Is Obama a Visitor From a ‘Morally Superior Civilization’?

David Brooks from The New York Times envisions President Obama as someone who “sometimes . . . governs like a visitor from a morally superior civilization.” Let’s see, support for homosexual marriage, killing pre-born children (called being “pro-choice”), forcibly taking money from some people and giving it to people who did nothing to earn it, and counterfeiting money in the name of stimulating the economy, is said to be “morally superior” behavior. By what standard? By whose authority?

Chicago has had 500 murders in 2012, and what does President Obama call for in the state of Illinois? The legalization of homosexual marriage. But there’s more:

“The urgency with which the state’s Democrat-dominated legislature has taken up the issue of gay marriage over the past two years contrasts sharply with its refusal to tackle the pressing problem of state debt. Illinois has the lowest debt rating of any state, according to some ratings agencies, and has the nation’s worst public pension crisis, with unfunded liabilities approaching $100 billion. Gov. Pat Quinn (D) raised income taxes 66% two years ago, which barely made a dent in the state’s deficits but was quickly followed by the nation’s worst job losses.”

“Obama has not urged the state to deal with its deficits, debts, and pensions, nor did he do so as a state senator.”

Please tell me, Mr. Brooks, where is this “morally superior civilization” so we can send President Obama back to it?

No one is “morally superior.” That’s why the President takes an oath to uphold the Constitution; it’s an admission of moral inferiority. “In questions of power,” Benjamin Franklin wrote, “let no more be heard of confidence in man but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the constitution.”

The fact that he and so many members of Congress don’t keep the oath they swore to uphold is prima facie evidence that not one of them is morally superior.

James Madison said it best in Federalist No. 51:

“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”

What Mr. Brooks needs is a standard for morality. He doesn’t have one, and neither does the President. Most politicians don’t have one.

Mr. Brooks’ comment about the President being a “visitor from a morally superior civilization” reminds me of what philosopher Richard Rorty (1931–2007) described in a lecture:

“Aliens from another planet, with vastly superior intelligence to humans, land on earth in order to consume humans as food. What argument could you make to convince the aliens not to eat us that would not also apply to our consumption of beef? ((Quoted by Richard Mankiw at

Who gets to determine what constitutes a “morally superior civilization”? It’s quite easy when you start with humanistic assumptions and believe that the State is the guiding light for all that’s good and right. Those with unabridged power can claim that even the most evil practice is morally superior “from a particular point of view.” Do we think the Communists and Nazis sold their programs to the people as something less than morally superior?

“Morally superior” politics today is based on who a politician can get to support him. This is accomplished by doing morally inferior things.