Once upon a time, Barack Obama gave his first inauguration address. Back then I remember a friend (or two) who didn’t want to think of himself as a state-worshiping, irrational adorer of Big Government with a hunger to be rescued from the cruelty of reality, but rather as a reasonable guy who didn’t give in to “extremism.” So he really loved this part of Obama’s teleprompter script:
Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions, who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short, for they have forgotten what this country has already done, what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage. What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.
The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account, to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day, because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.
Let’s mildly address the first things Liberals will say when they compare Obama’s bright words to the ashes of his legacy: Republican obstructionism—or “sabotage” as all the kids are calling it these days. It would all work beautifully if only the evil hobgoblins we blame for all bad things had not worked against us.
But—even if we give you all the economic fallacies you need in order to pretend your plans could ever “work,” and even if we submit to your pejorative descriptions of Republicans not acquiescing to you—the bottom line is that the Republicans were elected by people who thought your plans were dangerous and damaging. Obama claimed Barney-like powers for the imagination when it was “joined to common purpose.” There wasn’t any common purpose. Obama’s election didn’t signal there was one. Frankly, the Democrats knew they were facing popular opposition but forced the Affordable Care Act on the American people because they really don’t even truly believe that their “common purpose” is necessary. The government can simply impose the Leftist imagination on people and it will “just work.”
So what do we have? Have those “who manage the public’s dollars” ever been “held to account”? No, the Pentagon still can’t pass and audit and last year, under Obama’s watch, Homeland Security joined them. Is there any sign of programs being ended when they don’t work? I don’t need to answer that. How about “vital trust between their people and their government”? I’m actually somewhat appreciative of Obama’s work here because I don’t think trust has been anything but gullibility allowing the government to do bad things for a couple of decades or more.
The fact is, we are not only suffering because of recent “big plans,” but with social security and the Federal Reserve we are seeing the long term consequences of “what this country has already done.” So is this government that “works”? The President tells us: “What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.”
Well, Barry, I’d advise you to watch out for the fissures forming underneath your own feet. We’re all seeing the economic and ethical arguments apply all too well.