July 1st, 2009

Leon Wieseltier gets it—and yet doesn’t get it

In the New Republic, Leon Wieseltier criticizes the weakness of Obama’s support for the Iranian protesters. Wieseltier correctly points out that by his tepid response, Obama refused to take the leadership role that would have meant a great deal to those defying the mullahs’ regime. As president, Obama is hardly a passive observer like the bulk of the American people; his words might have actually meant something:

If all of us support the dissidents but the president does not, the dissidents have an American problem. If none of us support the dissidents but the president does, the dissidents do not have an American problem. And either way, the president is “meddling.” Obama’s parsimonious performance in the first weeks of the rebellion in Tehran, the disappearance of his eloquence and his championship of change, was an attempt by the president to impersonate the rest of us, to be just another saddened consumer of tweets and feeds. Hence his refrains about “bearing witness” and “the world is watching.” That is uplift for a demonstration, or a vigil. Witnessing and watching are varieties of passivity. The rest of us witness and watch, because we can do little else.

Wieseltier supported Obama for the presidency, and it’s instructive to go back and look at his reasons for doing so. Wieseltier is basically a liberal, but one who defies easy categorization (a Scoop Jackson liberal?). As he wrote back then:

I want universal health care and I want an interventionist foreign policy. I believe that the American president should help people in distress, at home and abroad–not all of them, but a lot of them. I like capitalism, but not religiously, and I feel the same way about diplomacy.

He also was made very uneasy by the Ayers and Wright revelations and how Obama handled them. But in the end, he was won over, with one caveat:

Obama is a smart man. He is a decent man. He is an undangerous man, in the manner of all pragmatists and opportunists. He reveres reason, though he often confuses it with conversation. His domestic goals are good, though the titans of American finance, the greedy geniuses of Wall Street, may have made many of those goals fantastic. He will see to it that some liberalism survives at the Supreme Court. This leaves only the rest of the world. What a time for a novice! I dread the prospect of Obama’s West Wing education in foreign policy: even when he spoke well about these matters in the debates, it all sounded so new to him, so light.

I wonder whether Wieseltier would call Obama an “undangerous man” now. Perhaps he would, since they seem to still share many domestic policy viewpoints such as demonization of Wall Street and a desire for liberals on the Court. But we now know that the note of warning and dread that Wieseltier sounded about foreign policy has been vindicated, as Wieseltier also seems to be thinking.

Notice, however, that Wieseltier still considers Obama’s foreign policy faux pas to be the result of Obama’s ignorance, both then and now. In his earlier piece, he referred to dreading the prospect of Obama’s education in foreign policy (this was also the point of Hillary’s 3 AM campaign ad; wonder what she’s thinking now, as she goes about Obama’s business). And even in Wieseltier’s recent piece on Obama and Iran, he writes most tellingly [emphasis mine]:

Will [Obama's] mincing cease? Will the realist get real? In recent days Obama has begun–not under pressure, of course–to “condemn” and to “deplore.” The oppressed people of Iran may now endure what other oppressed peoples have endured: the learning curve of an American president. It is the insult that history adds to their injury.

I used to believe—or at least, to consider it the most likely possibility—that Obama was merely ignorant and naive, too, and that he might learn better with time and experience. Now, although I still hope that, I believe it to be highly unlikely. The missteps are too many to be missteps, the path too straight, the pattern too clear: Obama does not care about human rights or liberty abroad or at home. He has more in common with thugs than with those who would oppose them. And he believes in amassing and using as much power domestically as he can get his hands on in any way possible.

66 Responses to “Leon Wieseltier gets it—and yet doesn’t get it”

  1. Jamie Says:

    I’m at war with myself over your last point: is he ignorant or working on an agenda with which I vehemently disagree? (See how carefully I avoid the word “evil”!) The world is a (marginally) more sensible and less threatening place if the former, but the latter makes more sense. Sigh.

  2. neo-neocon Says:

    Jamie: I understand, but my war with myself on that point is over. I will be writing a post about that very topic, probably tomorrow.

  3. br549 Says:

    I have believed your last paragraph above to be the real Obama since long before he was elected. There are places one can go and replay statements he has made over and over. Limbaugh’s show for one. Thank God someone is doing it. And they are sound bites of his own voice. Nothing to dispute.

    He is who he said he was. He is doing what he said he would do, and acting, as expected, by anyone who heard him when he said those things.

    He is a typical liberal in one manner. He is “tough” on those he believes will respond in a civilized manner. He “sides with” those he fears, or those who believe as he truly does underneath the facade.

    He either fooled a lot of people, or half our country is socialist / communist at heart. Either way, the America I love is changing into something I do not recognize.

  4. huxley Says:

    He reveres reason, though he often confuses it with conversation. — Wieseltier

    This drives me crazy. I have seen no indication whatsoever that Obama reveres reason. None.

    He reveres his father, he reveres his leftist background and the figures thereof, he reveres creating the impression that he is a reasonable man, and an intelligent man (eyes-roll) but no more than that.

  5. neo-neocon Says:

    br549: The thing is that you are correct in that Obama said those things. But he said many other things that contradicted them. And the alarming things he said were fewer and further between, overshadowed by the number of neutral and/or conventional (and misleading) positions he took. This is what confused some people—enough to have elected him. Whether they are still confused, and how long they will remain so, and whether enough of them have seen the light to act in time, is the question (and, as I said, these issues are the subject of a planned post for tomorrow—perhaps even a two-parter).

  6. Darius Says:

    It’s funny you mention looking at his pattern.

    I long ago noticed several about him.

    My wife STILL thinks I’m overreacting from listening to “hate sites” when I say he has no respect for the military. I’ll grant that he hasn’t outright said “F**K YOU,” but from statements like “Just air raiding villages” show that he doesn’t understand what the military is doing and is also defaulting to progressive tropes about what the military is (and doesn’t have the respect to take the time to learn and correct that lack). This was reinforced in many small ways. I’ll admit he has visited the troops overseas, but always in campaign photo-op mode, never just to visit, quietly like Bush has. Top it off with the time he came up with two explanations for why he couldn’t be bothered to visit a military hospital in Germany before settling on a third one that was not provably false (somehow, not scheduling it in the first place, showing up without campaign retinue, or simply telling the truth the first time never occured to him).

    Patterns patterns patterns – kindness and gentleness to our enemies, sternness to our allies.

    Or speeches. Sure – he’s promised everything to everyone. Notice though, that outside of “safe havens” like the dinner of the bitter clingers quote, that every time he’s given a bluntly socialist answer, it’s been when he’s caught off guard. Cap & Trade WILL ruin the economy. Taxes are about enforcing fairness. Spreading the wealth.

    It’s amazing how often his blunt answers, and not his prepared, teleprompter-fed statements, lean left.

  7. neo-neocon Says:

    huxley: Well, Obama reveres sophistry, giving the appearance of reason to someone like Wieseltier, who wanted so badly to believe in Obama instead of his own lying eyes.

    I also have seen little evidence of reason in Obama, except for the aforementioned sophistry. He is very clever, however, which can also be mistaken for reason.

  8. Ozyripus Says:

    Neo: Doesn’t Allan Bloom have appropriate comments on the character of Obama and those who support(ed) him? I’m only 22 years late reading Bloom (hat tip to you), but nothing like the school of experience for solid teaching — also the most expensive.

  9. huxley Says:

    neo — Yes, Obama is a consummate propagandist, which is not the mark of a man who “reveres reason.”

    His speeches have flair, but do not bear close reading. His knowledge of history is either extraordinarily weak or he is lying as a means to his ends. He has left no written trail as a lawyer or academic or student in which his reasoning might be judged. He has no record with science, math, or the classics. His memoirs make no mention of him curled up with Plato, Aristotle or even Bertrand Russell. He has no record of close association with men or women who revere reason–instead we have Michelle Obama, Rev. Wright, and Bill Ayers.

    It just drives me crazy.

  10. Harry McHitlerburtonstein Says:

    That was a pretty powerful final paragraph Neo. I dont want it to be true either. I’d like it to be just partisan rhetoric. My actual fear is that it is the truth. It’s the truth and there’s nothing we can do about it. The left owns Congress and the media message. It’s a perfect coup and we’ve done it to ourselves. If I had read this in a novel I might have shrugged this off as far fetched. I wish it was.

  11. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

    Wieseltier has clearly misinterpreted much of what he has seen in Obama, talking himself into positive spins. Nonetheless, I am encouraged by this gentleman. He does some thinking for himself, he does not deny what he sees in front of him (though he might make excuses). Fifty percent of folks like that come around, and they make great allies, because they don’t take our word for things either, keeping us at our best.

  12. grackle Says:

    Wieseltier, and others that supported Obama despite reservations(Ann Althouse comes to mind), are working hard to try to ease their consciences and keep their self respect by debating whether it is ignorance or deliberate agenda that explains Obama’s behavior. Would ‘cognitive dissonance’ be the proper term – or just good old fashioned, ‘rationalization?’ They want very much for it to be ignorance so that is what they will cling to. I want to scream at them: IT DOESN’T MATTER WHY, YOU IDIOTS!

    The lesson is to never vote for a candidate because they seem nice or because they seem to mean well. Always go back to their political record(if there is any) or at least examine closely with whom they have associated and their past beliefs(if they’ve professed any). And if there is no political record or any other record with which to judge them? Support their opponent because you should not support a candidate about which nothing is known.

  13. chuck Says:

    is he ignorant or working on an agenda with which I vehemently disagree?

    They aren’t mutually exclusive. I think he is ignorant. I also think he has a narrowly formed left outlook. It isn’t a thought through outlook, but rather it is full of the received slogans of the left and the anti-military, anti-US prejudice that informs them. I also don’t think Obama cares about people. Put that all together and he doesn’t so much have agenda as he is what he is, and what he is doesn’t have much in common with what we would consider American values or American respect for the democracy.

    What I found bizarre during the campaign is the way people saw themselves in Obama. They would make statements about what he was thinking, but somehow that what precisely what they themselves were thinking. It was disturbing see this among very intelligent people, indeed, very intelligent people seemed unusually susceptible. It seems there are very few who are intellectually equal to themselves, most surrender to their own brilliance without a fight.

  14. armchair pessimist Says:

    I’ll live up to my name and say that at least half the country is too stupid and degenerated to care about anything except their panem et circenses. This in turn raises the philosophical question whether people have the right to waive their freedom and give away their country.

  15. Nolanimrod Says:

    TNR eviscerated John dos Passos because he was suspected of being insufficiently Stalinist in his writings on the Spanish revolution insofar as having the bad taste to mention his friend Paso Robles’ murder by Stalinists. Reading the vicious ad hominem attacks from the TNR of the period sounds a lot like the elevated Bushitler discussions of our own era, and I don’t think the mag has changed much in the interim.

  16. huxley Says:

    armchair pessimist — Could be but many smart, decent people went for Obama also.

    Ann Althouse, Megan McArdle, Warren Buffet, most of my friends and family, nearly everyone at the Episcopalian church I attend, and our occasional participant, Mitsu.

    Obama’s “I am a blank screen” trick worked shockingly well for quite a lot of people I otherwise respect.

  17. huxley Says:

    Nolanimrod — TNR is still a nasty piece of work. I happened to watch Shattered Glass a few weeks ago about the Stephen Glass scandal in which he was caught fabricating more than half the stories he wrote for TNR.

    The film ends with an understated sense of triumph of truth over lies, and TNR sucking it up and doing the right thing. Nonetheless, nine years later TNR got in the same trouble again with the Beauchmap affair, printing stories that appealed to TNR editors but weren’t true.

  18. neo-neocon Says:

    Nolanimrod: I’ve written about John Dos Passos and his history with the Left on this blog before, here. Indeed, it is a sad and cautionary tale—to anyone paying attention.

  19. rickl Says:

    neo-neocon Says:
    July 1st, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    And the alarming things he said were fewer and further between, overshadowed by the number of neutral and/or conventional (and misleading) positions he took.

    A case in point is Obama’s campaign promise that “95% of Americans will get a tax cut”. It sounded almost Reaganesque, and he hammered that point relentlessly as the campaign came down the home stretch.

  20. expat Says:

    chuck,

    I lean in your direction. He is ignorant and has adopted the glib leftist slogans without questioning. But ultimately, I think it is his narcissism that motivates him. Parrotting the “intellectuals” has brought him a long way, yet he isn’t really committed to the people for whom he supposedly fights. He would throw any postion under the bus to avoid having his self image challenged. He has certainly learned to play the power and manipulation game, but there is something different about him. It’s as if he doesn’t really want power for power’s sake, but rather that he thinks he is so great that whatever he does will be a fantastic achievement. That’s why he doesn’t care what is in the health care or cap and trade legislation. He only cares that he gets credit for it.

    He describes himself as a pragmatist to hide the fact that he really doesn’t care about anything enough to risk ending up on the losing side. He doesn’t even admit to himself that he has changed positions because that would imply previous falllibility. He certainly has an agenda he will crack heads to push through. But the goal is not the agenda; it is the accolades he will receive from the leftist elite.

  21. rickl Says:

    Not to toot my own horn, but I also had Obama pegged pretty early on, long before the election. I can’t think of a single “Aha!” moment; rather it just gradually sank in as a result of my voracious internet reading.

    I’m sure FredHjr helped, along with various people at Gulf Coast Pundit. That blog is now defunct but has been very quickly reincarnated as Grouchy Conservative Pundits. I consider it my “home base” on the internet, and its forum structure means that any member can start their own threads on any topic that interests them. I read countless links and quotes about Obama, his mentors, and associates well before the election. So his actions and policies since his inauguration haven’t surprised me a bit.

  22. waltj Says:

    “…Sure – he’s promised everything to everyone. Notice though, that outside of “safe havens” like the dinner of the bitter clingers quote, that every time he’s given a bluntly socialist answer, it’s been when he’s caught off guard…”

    The novelist David Eddings had a passage along these lines like this in one of his books when unmasking a deceptive villain: “What language do you curse in when you stub your toe? That’s your true native tongue.” Well, every time Obama figuratively “stubs his toe” in surroundings he thinks friendly (bitter clingers), or when caught off-guard (Joe the Plumber), he defaults to the leftist, elitist, socialist answer. It’s been clear to me for some time now. That’s Obama’s mother tongue. He learned the language of moderation later in life, but imperfectly, and he only mouths the words without grasping or even having any real sympathy for the concepts behind them. And “undangerous” would be the last term I’d use to describe him.

  23. Richard Aubrey Says:

    If Wieseltier and others are now trying to make the case that he’s ignorant (“innocent”), that means they now have a problem with what O is doing.
    I guess that’s the first step.
    However, there will be a limit to the climb-down. Many of O’s supporters were so vehement, and so vile to his opponents, that straight-up admission of screwing up will be impossible.
    I doubt many will go beyond ignorance. Even when, as we have seen, most other folks, however ignorant, would have already been learning.
    What happens when O doesn’t “learn” to the satisfaction of Wieseltier and similar folks? Either O is dumber than a box of rocks–can’t say that because talking about how smart he was was talking about how smart you were–or he means to do what he does and wills the result.
    That means those who voted for him with eyes wide shut are complicit in the very actions they deplore.
    I’m not anticipating many complete admissions of fault among his supporters no matter how bad things get.

  24. Terrye Says:

    I never trusted Obama. I think he is a self absorbed little liberal who believes that he can fix everything, if only people will do as they are told.

    I was surprised at how many rational people voted for Obama. I think they wanted to be part of history and I think they were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, and it was a mistake. A big mistake. And we we all pay for it.

    Jimmy Carter with delusions of grandeur. That is Barack Obama.

  25. neo-neocon Says:

    Terrye: I have come to believe that Obama is far to the left of Jimmy Carter. He is also different in that Carter was relatively honest about his beliefs, whereas Obama is a dissembler and is charismatic besides, which Carter was not.

    In short, Obama is far more dangerous than Carter. And when many non-Leftist “rational people” voted for Obama, they were not doing so for rational reasons. They were reacting from the emotions and the gut, wanting hope and change and wanting to believe that this nice cool articulate black guy would be just what they wanted him to be.

    The fact that he was running against the rather uncharismatic and lethargic McCain didn’t hurt, either.

  26. waltj Says:

    “…a self absorbed little liberal who believes that he can fix everything, if only people will do as they are told.”

    You should copyright that, bottle it, and save it. That’s as complete and accurate a thumbnail description of Obama as I’ve seen yet.

  27. Rick Caird Says:

    Neo-neocon,

    Grackle made a point earlier that a lot of the Obama voters are staring to believe they were mislead but are not quite ready to admit it. That is probably the reason Obama’s poll numbers are staying up. It hard for someone to flat out admit that he voted wrong. That takes some time.

    Those of us who are somewhat political junkies and were paying attention during the campaigns are not so surprised. The left is getting what it hoped for and the conservatives are getting what we feared. That is why the Rasmussen strong approve/strong disapprove numbers are pretty much even. It is the ones in the middle who are starting to waver. That it has taken less than six months is the surprise.

  28. Oh, bother Says:

    Wieseltier wrote, “Obama is a smart man. He is a decent man. He is an undangerous man, in the manner of all pragmatists and opportunists.” Several commenters have remarked upon the word, ‘undangerous.’ Others have debated whether he is smart. I suppose that leaves it to me to say: he is not a decent man. Decency requires trustworthiness, consideration for others, humility — the list is long, and I don’t see any of it.

    I never trusted Obama because he’s a Chicago Democrat. That says it all. We’re all finding out what that means.

  29. Artfldgr Says:

    napoleon, tiny undangerous man when not in uniform… kim jong, not imposing at all, tiny, sickly even… mao, not dangerous looking, almost comical.. hitler, sickly pale, short, nothing like the paintings…

    all of the above were EXTREME pragmatists. one could say that their pragmatism knew no morals.

    [deleted 2 pages] :)

  30. Matt Says:

    It’s funny because none of you actually like Obama and most of you attack him when he says or does anything. So how could his words have actually helped the situation in Iran? Does Iran even listen to us anyway? Their leaders laugh at us.
    The few Iranians I know think he did all he could. They were more concerned about their own people and less concerned about what Obama can do.

    Now, maybe some of you want a war with Iran just for fun since that seems to be your only other option. Or do you want some dumb covert operation – cause you know those work so well….
    We can agree to disagree but it’s a fact that the President [no matter who he is] can do much in these situations except saber rattle, drop bombs, or condemn the action. Which would you prefer?

  31. neo-neocon Says:

    Matt:

    Did you even read the Wieseltier article? He tackles the question of what Obama’s words could have done for the people of Iran.

    I’ll add to his thoughts, though, by saying that Obama’s words signal to the laughing leaders of Iran to go right ahead and laugh some more, because they have nothing whatsoever to fear from weakling Obama, who is stepping all over himself to lick their boots in hopes that they’ll “dialogue” with him and get the opportunity to fool him and laugh at him even more.

    And of course you know that it is hyperbole when you say that people here attack anything Obama says. It’s true that Obama does say many offensive things, but although I can hardly even begin to cover all of them, not everything he says is offensive. Some are merely innocuous, some are platitudes, some are perfectly fine. But the things he says that are offensive are blatantly and profoundly offensive, and there are many such things.

    As for the “few” Iranians you know—not a large sample. And of course most Iranians, and/or Iranian-Americans, would understandably be less concerned with what Obama might be able to say to the Iranian people and more concerned with what’s actually happening in Iran—that goes without saying. But it does not mean that what Obama did say was right, or helpful, to their cause.

    Words matter. No one is suggesting that any words Obama could have said would have changed anything the mullahs did, but firmer words, spoken quickly and decisively, would have given them a smidgen more respect for the man they were dealing with. Obama’s tepid response, as well as his terrible reaction to events in Honduras, signal to tyrants everywhere that he is either a pushover, or is actually their friend. At any rate, they have nothing to fear; they know he will not oppose them.

  32. Colin Says:

    Something that I’ve been thinking about (call me the eternal optimist) is how Obama is going to behave once he’s out of office. Jimmy Carter’s record is clear, and as you mentioned, Neo, Obama is pretty clearly to the left of Cartern in any number of ways. How much damage can an ex-President do? Jimmy Carter has gone around the world giving succor to terrorist groups and defending the rigged elections of leftist strongmen. What could Obama do? Go the full Ramsey Clark route? It worries me.

    Still, it’s a nicer thought that thinking about what he can do while he’s still IN office!

  33. Artfldgr Says:

    Matt,
    What the leader of the only super power says or does not say makes a difference. which is why many are annoyed with how these representatives make us look.

    right now, they are hanging the leaders of the protests. there is a lot of squawking over the ones on monday, but you can be sure there are a lot more things going on among people who are invisable to the world.

    if obama was not so clearly on alma’s side, they would know that he was watching and as in the past they would be unsure of what he would do knowing what he could do.

    the people might reignite the fight because of the hangings, and the hangings could then be feared to cause them to get support. the worst fears would be that they seize some control and another country recognizes them (which means they are then real in the world, and can buy weapons and make deals).

    however the mullahs and others know that obama is not going to do anything. the protesters are now hoping that they got away with it and no one is going to come knocking on their door.

    and now they know that if obama will not stand up against them as a means to regime change and a better position on nuclear arms, he certainly will not do something stronger against them.

    that is, if he was too weak to support in words only, then he sure is too weak to use troops and act decisively.

    ultimately whether obama is ignorant (doubtful) and operating on classic public consumption marxism, or is completly tied to a certain past and is moving with complete competence, he is completely predictable now. he might even believe that once this is done he will be a hero for the cause of global socialism. but given the way he has operated and moved, his responses are pavlovian.

    they know all his tells and he has no more cards.

    everyone is and has been recently calling on every one of the hands

    the reason that the image of nero fiddling while rome burns has lasted so long, whether truthful or not, is that it resonates with those who understand the kind of evil that enjoys the fruits of its own chaos and meddling.

    that is the more we suffer the more power he feels. and the more he can make us suffer and we dont/cant do anything, the more powerful he will feel.

    thats why the honduras thing shook him

    the best modern pop example is from the 13th warrior when they killed the large man by pressing a fight. to quote the movie

    “now he has to calculate what he cant see”

  34. Gray Says:

    He has more in common with thugs than with those who would oppose them.

    I had that epiphany just before the election and posted it here (though I forget what particular enormity prompted that realization) :

    “Oh, my God. He’s a bad guy.”

    He’s a bad guy. I can’t state it any more plain.

    Forewarned is forearmed. You are still waaaay ahead of the curve on this realization. Soon we will all know it, even Matt, though he may never admit it.

    I also predicted an “oh, shit” moment for even the dirtiest Obama-licker when they realize what they did.

  35. neo-neocon Says:

    Gray: for many Communists, that “oh shit” moment didn’t happen until they were about to be executed.

  36. Gray Says:

    “plainly”. It’s been a long several weeks….

  37. Gray Says:

    Gray: for many Communists, that “oh shit” moment didn’t happen until they were about to be executed.

    Hey, c’mon, I’m supposed to be the one with one with the mordant comments….

    You make a pithy and true observation. Wretchard’s recent posts on that were chilling.

  38. Gray Says:

    I want to see Matt et al. nail their colors to the Zelaya mast.

    (Followed by Zelaya and his narco-terrorist kleptocracy Obama supports.)

  39. Oblio Says:

    “Bad” doesn’t seem like the right word. We are in uncharted waters. Never before (or so I believe) have we had an administration so committed to a symbols, narrative, and fantasy. A date with reality is in the stars, both abroad and at home, and bitter will be the reckoning. Reality will have a way of instructing a significant proportion of Mr. Obamas 53%.

    How many independents will stay with him when they see this Administration selling out our allies to appease our enemies. Tough times are ahead for Iraq, which will bring back the toxicity of the war debate. The question will be “Who lost Iraq?” It will be interesting to see how much of the Jewish community will stay on board as the Administration’s position starts to become indistinguishable from that of the Palestinian Authority. If and when our East Asian allies start to falter in the face of Chinese pressure and US timidity, won’t questions be asked?

    Or when New York and California try to stave off their days of financial reckoning by sucking down more and more money from Washington, don’t you think that a lot of people in other states will cut up rough? Or when overturning DOMA moves up on the agenda for a guy who swore he didn’t support gay marriage? Obama has written a lot of blank checks that he can’t cover.

    I’m with Artfldgr that Obama’s foreign policy behavior is both predictable and weak, which spells big trouble.

    We need to work on finding some politicians who have enough guts to stand up to him. That’s what we have been missing.

  40. neo-neocon Says:

    Gray: There seems to be a scarcity of blogs on the Left defending Obama’s position on Honduras. I’ve done a shortish search, and haven’t found any. If anyone can provide a link to one, I’l be curious to see it.

    I think that the only way to defend what Obama has done would be to be in favor of socialist overreaching and defying a country’s constitution (that’s Obama’s position, I believe), or to deny the facts of what happened in Honduras.

  41. betsybounds Says:

    Well I must say that a lot of the things I feared under the Clintons are coming to pass under Obama. The Clintons were the merest of pikers, wannabes–perhaps a prelude. I have given up avoiding the word “evil” with respect to our president. I think he intends not to govern, but to rule, and his rule is not benign. He’s doing it now, and he has set about doing it from the beginning. Let’s see, how many of these czars does he have so far? They answer only to him, and they serve to short-circuit the established Cabinet structure and process. And there’s no reason to think there won’t be more of them to come.

    He has given the Democrat Congress nearly free rein to craft (if you can call it that) these recent bills. I don’t believe it’s any accident that the results so far have been sheer chaos, and there is more to come. I don’t think Obama cares. The more chaotic the laws are, the more chaos they will produce in our country–and so the better they will suit his purpose. I tremble to say this, but I think his purpose is to destroy this country. It maddens me, it sickens me more every day. And, yes, it frightens me.

    Just for example, they’re talking about taxing miles driven rather than gasoline purchased. Nothing new, really, but it’s serious this time. Think about that, and forget about energy conservation. We will be being watched. Nothing George W. Bush ever contemplated, The New York Times et al. to the contrary notwithstanding, began to approach that trick. The conflicting motives given for the Cap-and-Trade bill–job creation, climate salvation, national security, energy independence–are not creditable. It won’t create many jobs. The climate does not need salvation. National security is not bound up with carbon. We get by far the greatest majority of our petroleum from Canada and Mexico, not the Persian Gulf region, so the notion that we are buying our oil from those who fund terrorism, and from whom we need to establish “independence,” is pure bunk. Yet all these rationales were advanced as reasons to pass the bill in the House. The truth is that they dare not tell us the real motive, and the haze thrown up by the pseudo-motives does not disguise the fact that the only real possibility is that it gives the government–which is, in fact, Obama–control. The same thing will be true of the health care plan. It will not be about access, it will not be about cost control, it will not be about wise use, and it will not be about establishing competition in the already fiercely competitive business of health insurance. It will be about control.

    I don’t know precisely where we’re going from here, but I don’t think it’s going to be good. I think Wieseltier is saying, “Yes, it’s a graveyard,” even as he whistles past it–I think he knows what’s up (I’ve read him for a long time and respect him a good deal, though I’m more conservative than he is) and cannot quite bring himself to face it. Soon enough, though, he won’t be able to avoid it any longer.

    Soon enough, none of us will.

  42. Gray Says:

    I think that the only way to defend what Obama has done would be to be in favor of socialist overreaching and defying a country’s constitution….

    Can the defenders not see this, or are they rooting for it?

    (I would have enjoyed Fred’s take on this, dammit….)

  43. SteveH Says:

    I’m in the process of reevaluating these “reasonable” people that put Obama in office. I can’t find anything reasonable about them.

  44. Oblio Says:

    We will need to welcome a fair number of them back.

    Guys, the tide is already turning. The problem right now is to figure out how to re-energize the opposition with a winning platform. The self-destructive and stupid behavior of the Republican politicos passing belief and it has to stop.

    Is anyone following the story about how McCain’s senior campaign officials were leaking to NYT during the campaign to smear Palin? How was that supposed to work? Hello?

  45. Gray Says:

    I think Wieseltier is saying, “Yes, it’s a graveyard,” even as he whistles past it

    That’s an excellent turn-of-a-phrase.

    Nail. Head. Bang! (as El Vanderleun might say.)

  46. Artfldgr Says:

    I guess Obama just gave chavez the go ahead

    US suspends military relations with Honduras
    apnews.myway.com/article/20090702/D996022O0.html

    The administration appeared to be counting on the threat of Honduras having its OAS membership suspended as leverage in getting Zelaya back in power. While the administration joined the OAS in calling for Zelaya’s unconditional return, with no limits on his presidential powers, it also seemed open to some form of compromise.

    The coup, the OAS resolution said, has produced an “unconstitutional alteration of the democratic order.”

    Calling Zelaya’s overthrow an “old-fashioned coup,” Insulza said: “We need to show clearly that military coups will not be accepted. We thought we were in an era when military coups were no longer possible in this hemisphere.”

  47. Oblio Says:

    Wretchard links to Gibbs refusing to rule out income taxes on people making less than $250,000.

    http://pajamasmedia.com/richardfernandez/2009/07/01/a-posteriori/#more-4844

    Do you think people will fail to notice that from Mr. I’m Only Going to Raise Taxes on the Rich?

    By a 2:1 margin, people think Cap’n'Trade will hurt the economy. http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/environment/42_say_climate_change_bill_will_hurt_the_economy

    Time to stop analyzing Mr. Obama’s character and to start getting practical.

  48. Artfldgr Says:

    The Honduran Congress has voted in a new government more favorable to the traditional business and ranching elite to replace Zelaya, who was toppled for trying to extend presidential term limits in power.

    The president also upset the army, judiciary and members of his own Liberal Party for taking Honduras to the left.

    In further signs of isolation of Honduras, the Inter-American Development Bank said it was pausing all new loans to the country until democracy is restored, while Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said Europe will not talk to the new rulers if they attempt to get in touch.

    democracy is the key word here…
    and it all sounds confusing…

    that is unless democracy means something else when they say it. the way peace is defined as no more opposition to socialism.

  49. jon baker Says:

    Artfldgr,
    Oh my. if you are saying Chavez is going to move into Honduras- oh my. My great fear up till now was that US troops would be sent to do the dirty deed. Lets see, how long till the next Mexican Presidential elections? That lefty from Mexico City almost won last time…..

  50. jon baker Says:

    I wonder, with all this debt, will the Chinese buy American non interference on the Taiwan issue?

  51. Artfldgr Says:

    i dont know that he will or wont… all i know is that with everyone calling it an illegal coup

    that the people and the state have no right to remove a leader and the WORLD has every right to reinstate such as if they are kings, not elected officials.

    at least thats what it seems to parallel…

  52. neo-neocon Says:

    It seems that Honduras is fast becoming the Israel of Latin America: isolated by the international community, accused of wrongdoing where none exists, and “meddled with” by all and sundry.

  53. huxley Says:

    Guys, the tide is already turning. — Oblio

    Bang! It’s not going to get any better for Obama. Hence the rush on cap and trade and obamacare.

    It is entirely possible that by 2012 Obama will drop through Millard Fillmore/James Buchanan levels of presidential credibility.

    I will not be surprised if Obama has a nervous breakdown when he loses the support he has experienced since he was a teenager.

  54. Gray Says:

    that the people and the state have no right to remove a leader and the WORLD has every right to reinstate such as if they are kings, not elected officials.

    Of course: with God deposed, the Will of the People, as distilled, molded and transmitted by the Holy Media, confer “divine” authority now.

    It’s medieval, but filtered through the worst excesses of the French Revolution.

    “Les Gens C’est moi!”

  55. jon baker Says:

    Neo- You need to see this. It gives some hope.

    http://newsbusters.org/blogs/mitchell-blatt/2009/07/01/helen-thomas-chip-reid-question-white-house-control-media

  56. Perfected democrat Says:

    “It is the insult that history adds to their injury.”

    Speaking of adding insult to injury, now Al “the clown” Franken wins by 225 votes, sealing Obungler’s “friendly” congress in the most dangerous kind of way.

    From Minnesota Ripe for Election Fraud
    Monday, November 10, 2008 | FoxNews.com
    By John R. Lott Jr.

    “With ACORN filing more than 43,000 registration forms this year, 75 percent of all new registrations in the state, Minnesota was facing vote fraud problems even before the election. Even a small percentage of those registrations resulting in fraudulent votes could tip this election.”

    The proverbial shit is fast in flight toward the fan… What can we do? Get in their dishonest faces! Thanks for an exceptional post and commentary here tonite, it gives me hope…

  57. br549 Says:

    If we will be taxed for miles driven as opposed to fuel consumed, what’s the benefit of owning a Prius vs. a semi loaded with cast iron pipe? Many drive for a living, or at least drive great cumulative distance in performing our jobs at various and sundry locations.
    That is being penalized. Is he going to track combines at harvest time? Tractors? Fork lifts moving stock around in warehouses? Piece of cake with GPS. The very size of the U.S. ensures this type of tax to be a gold mine for Obama’s plan.

    I mean, come on. How long can one sit and wonder what this guy is truly up to?

    Oh, and Matt, what happened to the Iranian hostages the day Reagan took the reins?

  58. Artfldgr Says:

    ok,
    so one now believes that they have been on this angle from before the election. sooooooo… does everyone realize that they are ahead of us and most here are playing catch up? that they are lagging?

    they already know what will happen, and so they are already ready for it.

    you can see hints but what comes after you have office and your changing everything?

    well, eventually realization comes… which is what is slowly happening now.

    so now their job, which was already started (and dont sloppily by napolitano), is to move the various and sundry rules in such a way that they can end the counter revolution without waking more up till it doesnt matter.

    everyone is talking about 2010 elections. guys. if this is any kind of power grab, or this is working towards some form of reformation. do you think that they will let things fall apart in less than a year? no… they are going to slam so much legislation through, then bog down the process after 2010 so the machine grinds stuck on their settings.

    Honduras is something they are trying to control. they DESPERATELY dont want a large number of americans reading and understanding what really happened there, so they are trying to freeze the lable of a coupe, or a military coupe.

    it was not a coupe. but they are going to paint it in everyones mind that way sure as you all have qwerty keyboards.

    they sure do not want the american people to get the idea that they can riot and impell or compell the military to remove the leaders who have violated oahts of office, or are not fit to serve, and then allow what remains to re-elect new officials in the same old way… this fulfilling the area of the constitition that states when our state has overstepped, we can overstep back.

    honduras made that passage a reality and a power of a democratic REPUBLIC to maintain itself.

    most are not listening that they are referring to us as a democracy and them as a democracy but acting as if that means communism. well the soviets said they were a democracy of the people, and now they refer to themselves as a sovereign democracy… so they are all, including obama in his words, saying the same thing with acceptable synonyms.

    acceptable synonyms is a concept that americans seem not to be able to understand even as they use them!!! thats wack, hot, cool… all acceptable synonyms for not good, and good in a certain way… well progressive is an acceptable synonym for communist. neo liberal is an acceptable synonym for socialist. socialist is a more acceptable synonym than communist.

    and so the game goes round….

    but if you have read enough of them to understand this, or even read the key document where someone declares the answer to this question is to do this and this and this, saul alinskies book is that. (actually his book is a very carefully constructed mental virus that other types of state have immunity to, but a free open state does not. you dont have to take control of a state, you only have to drop his mind bomb into it, and the devious, power hungry and others within the state will all gravitate and go from feeble to organized and effective. the state will then become ineffective, and you then have your situation in the long game).

    I mean, come on. How long can one sit and wonder what this guy is truly up to?

    as neo said, some only woke up when the gas came through the shower heads, or when they were dragged out of bed and sat shoulder to shoulder in a tiny room, silent, hearing the screams of the suspects in the other room specially modified for such work (you think the rooms in saw or hostel were made up? they are similar to the rooms from history. and right now the russians are selling adventure cruises on their armed luxury yachts trying to bait african pirates so that they can kill people as a vacation)

    like jonas goldberg said. it probably will not get that way here. we are more in a huxley world than a 1984 world… we are more in a situation where we have drugs, entertainment, work and have no time to realize the wall constructed around us.

    what they fear is people realizing their real world options and acting on them, which as you can see, they will do if they realize what they can do.

  59. Artfldgr Says:

    how obama does it: leave the hard parts blank and let each person fill them in with something they find reasonable to themselves… in this way you dont sway the group through argument you sway them by making a swiss cheese argument in which they fill in the key blanks and impossibilities and solutions with their own assumptions and in that way you win all who fill in blanks (most).

    the majority have been trained by movies and classes to fill in the blanks with your own story…

    the outcome is that most dont put a place marker in the blanks remembering they are blank. their minds make it all tidy, and so they never realize that he never said anything.

    this is how you sway the whole larger mass rather than the largest mass on the side of the best outcome for all which is always smaller than the number of imaginitive people filling in the blanks with the perfect argument (for them) to give benifit of the doubt towards the end they want most rather than the actual end.

  60. Richard Aubrey Says:

    On the Volokh Conspiracy board, there was a thread which got to similar questions.
    One commenter said something to the effect:
    If you are going down a road marked “This way to Gomorrah” and you reach Gomorrah, your protestations that you wanted to go elsewhere–and that therefore this isn’t your fault–are meaningless.
    You are morally accountable for ignoring the signs.
    O and his supporters are AT BEST morally accountable for ignoring the signs.
    On the other hand, they may be willing the results, in which case their protestations are dishonest from the start.
    In no way are they morally innocent.

  61. Hong Says:

    Neo,

    It sounds to me that you also believe, like Rush, that Obama’s seeking a third term. It’s a frightening concept but I agree. No President since Roosevelt has had the shameless audacity to override the legal framework of Capitalism like this one. It’s likely that Obama will lay the groundwork for a leftist agenda that will stain the free market system in this country forever. I’m gratified that more Americans are reaching this conclusion but for how long? Americans have short memories and they’re getting no help educating themselves from the Obama media. I don’t think Obama will get that third term but I think he’s succeeded in bullying a generation of Republicans from speaking out or running in opposition to his ideology. Except for the same faces of Newt, Rush, Cheney, Rove and company, I see no one new. Where are the new Republicans to be the voice of opposition? And please don’t say that twit Megan Mccain. lol

  62. Tom Says:

    Let’s take the gloves off and keep ‘em off.
    Obonga (used in memory of FredHjr) is doing his level best to destroy us. Artfldgr is right in observing that Obonga et al. are girding up for 2010. They will not be defeated without bloodshed.

    I have for a time felt we are facing a President-for-Life. The whole process, since Obonga started his US Senate run, has been a political Perfect Storm. And we’re in the boat.

    Theses are the darkest days for the American Republic since 1860. The outcome is in grave doubt.

  63. Old Dad Says:

    Obama is a con on the make. He has used and then trashed people all his life. Witness the growig body count under his bus. His schtick is lefty elitism, but he has no firm convictions. Hence, in unguarded moments he appears shockingly shallow, as with Joe the Plumber.

    This gig is all about Obama, and a major subplot is revenge. He’s going to once and for all stick it to the man. His mother couldn’t. His father couldn’t. Now he can. That explains his carelessness, his recklessness. The size of the mess is the point.

    It’s important to note how Obama has behaved in his private moments–extravagant parties, ridiculous food, multimillion dollar luaus. We see the thug in all his glory. Let them eat cake.

    The facade will crumble, but it depends in no small part (unfortunately) on the media. Obama is incapable of supporting a sustained, rational, discourse. He’s smart, but not that smart, and he dosen’t know much. In an odd way, he’s lived a very sheltered life.

    My guess is that Putin will eat him up. Unfortunately, the spectacle may occur behind closed doors. The Emepror is naked.

  64. neo-neocon Says:

    Tom: please take a look at this.

  65. Tom Says:

    Neo-
    Feelings (on Pres-for-Life)…How do I get these feelings? I’m not singing, either. When one’s dark fears are repeatedly realized, one begins to get these feelings.

    Thanks for your diligent homework.

    Serrano (D-Bronx) has no cosponsors yet, which doesn’t mean much these days. At last count, the Dems hold well less than 67% of state houses, so the Republic may yet stand. But no one of us can afford any complacency or confidence.

    Dark days.

  66. Pragmatist Says:

    In the NAZI Night of the Long Knives many Brownshirts died with ‘Heil Hitler’ on their lips such was their sublime gullibility and incapability of understanding that their Fuehrer could have betrayed them and their socialist beliefs.
    The same thing is happening to American liberals now they cannot or rather will not believe that the ‘hope and change’ THEY voted for is not the ‘Hope and Change’ that LIAR Messiah and BOGUS POTUS is forcing on them.
    It was ever thus gullible, hysterical, emotional worshipers are ALWAYS the last to wake up and smell the coffee.

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About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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