Obama has repeatedly reached for one of the lowest and most insulting rhetorical tricks in the book: begging the question. In his inaugural address, for instance, he labeled all criticis of government spending as “cynics” who “fail to understand . . . that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.” In other words, I’m right and the only question now is the details. He just wants “common sense” on gun control and other areas. Any high principled reason for avoiding the big government fad of the moment is cynicism and never accepted as a stand for high principle or constitutionalism, nor even as reasonable disagreement.
Consider his defense of the pork-laden “stimulus bill” authored by his fellow Democrats in the Congress:
In recent days, there have been misguided criticisms of this plan that echo the failed theories that helped lead us into this crisis — the notion that tax cuts alone will solve all our problems; that we can meet our enormous tests with half-steps and piecemeal measures; that we can ignore fundamental challenges such as energy independence and the high cost of health care and still expect our economy and our country to thrive.
I reject these theories, and so did the American people when they went to the polls in November and voted resoundingly for change. They know that we have tried it those ways for too long. And because we have, our health-care costs still rise faster than inflation. Our dependence on foreign oil still threatens our economy and our security. Our children still study in schools that put them at a disadvantage. We’ve seen the tragic consequences when our bridges crumble and our levees fail.
In spite of indefensible pork, a dubious theory of government spending increasingly discredited by economic historians, and a growing national debt that has more than a little to do with why we are here, Obama assumes his mandate is whatever he happens to want at the moment, regardless of how it deviates from his campaign themes. He did not run, after all, on big deficit stimuli but instead on “middle class tax cuts” and a return to sanity on foreign policy. In fact, he spent a lot of time criticizing Bush’s pork and fiscal irresponsibility.
One thing every elected official must understand is that his mandate is more often pretty weak; it’s not a license to do whatever he wants whenever he wants without regard to public opinion. People will turn against policies that were never explained earlier or seem extravagant and wrong-headed.
Obama’s own sense of incorruptibility may be his political Achilles’ Heal. Obama’s appointment of the tax cheat and former healthcare lobbyist Tom Daschle for HHS, the tax cheat Tim Geithner to the Treasury, and the occasional military lobbyist, William Lynn–it’s all just corruption with a human face, in this case the reassuring face of Obama. “Don’t worry kids, I know what I’m doing. I’m incorruptible, and me breaking my own promises for a ‘new tone’ and a ‘new ethical climate’ is not breaking promises. I know when to follow the rules and when to make exceptions.”
At times like these, we should not forget that he is a South Side of Chicago politician, a man formed in a a one–party–town of ethnic spoils and big government. Chicago is a place where no one, including the opposition, respects limited government and fiscal responsibility. It’s winner take all. Obama’s arrogance, his roots, and his free pass by the media are leaving him vulnerable to his tin ear for the apolitical sense by many Americans that a government spending spree during a recession may not be the best idea on earth. But, I guess all those people are just devoid of common sense and cynical.