President Barack Obama made his case for a second term last night in Charlotte. Today, opinions vary about its impact, from—commentators are using baseball analogies—a grand slam hit to a swing and a miss. This is hardly surprising in the context of partisan interpretations.
However, it is also not surprising that opinions would vary about Barack Obama and anything he says, or does. It is his stock and trade to say one thing and mean another, not unlike most politicians who will utter almost anything it will take to get elected or re-elected. Nothing new there either; politicians lie.
A man whose insight I often respect is Thomas Sowell. In a recent article he comments on the documentary film 2016, based on Dinesh D’Souza’s best-selling book, The Roots of Obama’s Rage.
The main point of the film is to establish that Obama’s ideology differs from the image he presents publicly and that he is able to convince audiences about his public persona because of rhetorical gifts. At the risk of being indelicate, this interpretation suggests that Barack Obama is a better liar than most.
Philosophically it means that Barack Obama is evasive in facing reality. One of the takeaways from the Obama speech last night was that it was visionary rather than providing specifics. It actually sounded more like a State of the Union address, given presumptively by a president who assumes he will have more time in office, rather than someone arguing for his particular ideas and giving people a reason to vote for him again.
He is unwilling or unable to face the reality of failure head on, evading it himself and trying to shield people from the truth with soaring rhetoric.
This is some kind of vision to be sure, but of what? Here is a clue. In commenting on the Republican platform, in which candidate Mitt Romney at least presented a specific, five-point plan of sorts, the president said this:
Now, I’ve cut taxes for those who need it….But I don’t believe that another round of tax breaks for millionaires will bring good jobs to our shores, or pay down our deficit. I don’t believe that firing teachers or kicking students off financial aid will grow the economy, or help us compete with the scientists and engineers coming out of China. After all that we’ve been through….We’ve been there, we’ve tried that, and we’re not going back. We’re moving forward. (Emphasis added.)
There is his ideology and his vision. It’s China. He wants America to be more like China. If philosophical principles are adopted early in life, as indeed they are, and are difficult to correct as you mature, then Dinesh D’Souza might be on to something. A major point of the film 2016, according to Sowell’s review, was that Obama’s ideology was formed in his youth overseas in time spent with mentors and friends in Indonesia and Africa. The contrast of philosophical principles in the so-called Third World with those of a former brilliantly productive and peaceful America could not be more striking as exact opposites.
If the vision is to be another China, I’d rather choose the China of the Song dynasty around the 10th to 13th centuries. Property rights and sound money were introduced then, for example.
Modern China is a repressive, communal, centrally planned military-industrial complex of state-owned enterprises. Its productive output comes at a horrible cost in human suffering to this day. The least Americans could hope for would be that Obama would come clean about his vision rather than stirring the faithful to some undeclared national socialism.
©Copyright 2012 Edward Podritske