The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, May 14, 2015


Over the past six and a half years, I have criticized the Obama White House for its many flaws, its lack of accomplishment and positive results on both domestic concerns and foreign policy issues, and on its often corrupt, divisive, and secretive politics. But for all of that, possibly the worst failing of this president and those close to him is a lack of self-awareness, an inability to recognize error or failure and adapt accordingly, and an ideological fervor that precludes any thought that opposing views may have even a smidgen of merit.

Recently, this failing was exemplified, not by Barack Obama, but by first-Lady, Michelle Obama, as explained by Heather Wilhelm:
Speaking at commencement exercises at historically black Tuskegee University last Saturday, first lady Michelle Obama told a crowd of bright-eyed graduates the following: “The road ahead is not going to be easy. It never is, especially for folks like you and me.”

Let’s pause for a moment to remember that the speaker is an intelligent, attractive woman who went to Chicago’s prestigious Whitney Young magnet school, then to Princeton, then to Harvard, then on to a rather mysterious six-figure job at the University of Chicago, which I’m sure was totally unrelated to her husband’s political work. Next, she was off to the White House, proceeding to globe-hop to places like Cambodia, where, in March, she booked 85 hotel guest rooms at a cost of $242,500 for 33 minutes of public speaking. This was a drop in the bucket, of course, compared to the estimated $44 million in taxpayer-funded vacations she and her husband have racked up over the years.

Ahem. Moving on. “There will be times,” the first lady continued, “when you feel folks look right past you, or they see just a fraction of who you really are. … My husband and I [have] both felt the sting of those daily slights throughout our entire lives — the folks who crossed the street in fear of their safety; the clerks who kept a close eye on us in all those department stores; the people at formal events who assumed we were the ‘help’ — and all those who questioned our intelligence, our honesty, even our love of this country.”

Whatever you think of the first lady’s complaints — and a reasonable approach might involve acknowledging that racism exists and agreeing that we need to combat it, while questioning the strangeness of one of the most powerful, privileged, and admired women in America repeatedly obsessing over her own past “daily slights” — that last phrase is rather breathtaking. In one fell swoop, it groups “those who questioned our intelligence, our honesty, even our love of country” together with a giant bushel of supposed racism. It also reveals a lot about the mind of Michelle Obama, who apparently assumes that the only reason you could possibly criticize her or the president is simple: You’re probably a racist.

This would certainly be news to, say, George W. Bush, a white president whose intelligence, honesty, and love of country were not only questioned, but raked over the coals with relish for years. Burned in effigy? Check! Repeatedly caricatured as a chimpanzee, The Joker, and Hitler? Check! Nationally lampooned as a total dolt? Check! Compared to Satan, the dark lord of the underworld, without a hint of irony? Check! Was that racism? Or was it just America being its usual, vociferous, half-crazy self?

Alas, among the Obamas, self-awareness is not a strong suit, and this particular deficit isn’t limited to the first lady. This week, at Georgetown University, the president bemoaned the scourge of private schools, driven by “an anti-government ideology that disinvests from those common goods and those things that draw us together.”
This, of course, spoken by a man who sends his own children to private schools.

Many of us who went to public schools (and many more who went to private ones) do have a surprising (to Obama) ability to look at the accomplishments and failings of Big Intrusive Government (B.I.G.) and draw rather different conclusions. We have concluded that profligate spending does NOT help the average citizen, but does enrich the anointed (connected) businesses and individuals who cozy up to the political class. We notice that many politicians enrich themselves and leave office as millionaires, that incompetence, waste, and inefficiency reign, that there is no accountability, that thousands of new regulations are choking the growth of businesses, that a dependency culture (often encouraged by the Democratic party) hurts, not helps, the minority populations that Michelle Obama claims to empathize with.

As a result, many of us have come to the conclusion that government must serve a role, but that role should be significantly limited. How limited? A 10 percent across-the-board cut in federal programs would be a good start, but we couldn't have that, could we? After all, that would be taking a "meat cleaver," where we need a surgeon's scalpel, right? Any substantive cuts to actual spending is anathema to the political class. After all, they gain their power from the ability to tax and spend—nothing else matters. The more taxing and spending, the more power. It's really pretty simple, and also pretty depressing.