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The Courage to Dictate

January 29th, 2010 by Myrhaf · 10 Comments · Uncategorized

It gets harder as I age to force myself to watch SOTU’s or the Oscars. The presidential speeches have degenerated in our benighted age from their original constitutional purpose to a laundry list of ways the president intends to buy votes from special interests with the money I make. Why would I want to be reminded that I’m a part-time slave to a bunch of pretentious fools in Washington, D.C.? And Hollywood’s big night is a celebration of mediocrity in an art form I care less about every year. Given the choice of spending $20 on mindless spectacle and popcorn or staying home with a good book, the latter wins every time. I can make popcorn at home.

Reading around the internet, however, it looked like there might be enough in the speech for a blog post. So I watched the State of the Union speech on YouTube. The whole goddamn thing. Obama likes to talk about sacrifice. I sat through 69 minutes of his lies; that’s sacrifice enough.

If your mind wandered during this speech, you could always look at Joe Biden, sitting behind Obama, to see how you should be reacting. When Obama was serious, Biden put on a frowny face; in lighter moments Biden grinned like a jackass. How nice of Joe to serve as a kind of human cartoon of what we should think. After two centuries someone finally found something useful for vice-presidents to do.

Others have examined the lies. Alex Epstein summed the speech up in one sentence:

We need to rise above fear, hesitation, and partisan politics–to give the government all the power it needs to solve all our problems.

I think Obama was saying in this speech “I am not Bill Clinton.” He’s not a moderate, not a triangulator; he won’t run to the middle after an electoral disaster. He is an ideologue who believes his collectivist agenda is moral and he is not backing off an inch. If you listened to the speech out of focus, as William F. Buckley, Jr.’s son must have done, you might have admired Obama’s integrity and purpose. Obama posed as a reasonable man of common sense who can laugh off difficulties, a man who just wants to get things done to help Americans.

You have to think in principle. You have to remember that Obama wants to expand state power over the individual. His is the path to dictatorship. If you can’t keep that in mind when he talks, then you’re doomed to be a welfare statist and to wonder why those unreasonable people on the right hate him so much. They must be racists!

Everything in this speech was designed to bamboozle people so that Obama-Reid-Pelosi can forge on with their socialist program, despite the fact that most Americans don’t want it. In a remarkably partisan speech, in which he attacked the Bush presidency and the Supreme Court, he also attacked partisanship. In a speech full of lies he attacked cynicism. He knows his ideological comrades in the media will publicize the noble, if hollow, statements, and ignore the partisan lies. A concrete-bound mentality, a pragmatist, would have no idea what to make of this speech.

If you think in principle, you understand that when Obama says “I don’t quit,” he means, “I don’t care what the people want, I will force socialism on them for their own good.” That is the meaning of Obama’s resolve. He has courage to stick to his values, yes. But what values this man has! He has the courage to run your life for you even if you’re too stupid to appreciate it.

We discovered in 2009 that many Americans can think in principle. They see that Obama is destroying our liberty. They have rocked Obama’s party in three elections in the last year, and they’re not done yet. After the Massachusetts election Obama made an odd statement that I interpret as another shot at Bill Clinton:

“I’d rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president,” he told ABC News’ Diane Sawyer.

The captain will go down with his ship. If he does it will be because enough Americans were not bamboozled by Obama’s rhetoric. Those who can think in principle and understand individual rights — the Tea Party Movement — would be the reason Obama failed, and that would make them the most important political movement since the civil rights era.

UPDATE: If you think I was tough on Obama’s speech, check out the reaction over at PJTV.

Andrew Wilson looks at Obama’s economic ignorance. It makes me wonder what Mises would have made of this speech. He’d probably have yawned and said, “I’ve heard it all before in Germany in the 1920’s and 30’s.”

10 Comments so far ↓

  • Embedded I

    “But isn’t Obama showing good leadership, sticking to the ideals that elected him, rather than twisting with every political breeze? Isn’t he a man of integrity?”

    That’s the problem with a concrete bound culture.

    As a virtue, “integrity” depends on the other primary virtues: rationality, independence, productivity, justice, honesty and pride.

    A man who sticks to irrational principles, (statist solutions: fiat money & coercive regulation, business nationalization, appeasing terrorists etc.) is not a man of integrity. He cannot know what principle to apply when, except by reference to those he perceives as like-minded.

    Counting on others whilst appearing to lead, is a scam. He discards honesty and pride. Can he truthfully possess the virtue of “justice“? Check the link. What has he done with productivity?

    Obama abandoned all seven primary virtues, long ago —at least since he was connected to ACORN. That seems to be a moral standard most politicians and the MSM are happy to ‘achieve’.

    As Rand put it, “Integrity does not consist of loyalty to one’s subjective whims, but of loyalty to rational principles.” (my bolding)

  • Mike

    I thought the biggest wallbanger was Obama apologizing for “failing to communicate” his health care plan to the American people. After all, since he means well, if the American people only understood, they would support it! Since we’re too stupid to understand anything unless it’s properly spoonfed to us, Obama warmly apologizes for not being effective enough at the spoonfeeding and promises to do better next time.

    News flash, Obama: We understood your health care plan perfectly well. We reject it, and we reject you by association. Man up and recognize that.

  • Grant

    Shelby Steele made an interesting point about Obama a couple of years ago. Speaking about The President’s mixed racial – and thus, unfortunately, to a large extent cultural identity – he said that Obama has been forced throughout his entire life to repress his authentic personality in order to survive. On the one hand, he’s told by blacks that he’s not really black – and on the other, he’s told by white that he’s not really white. In other words, in a world where individual accomplishment doesn’t completely crowd out group identity, Obama has had to repress his individual identity (ie: his ability to think independently and honestly about anything) far more than someone who’s of one race.

    I don’t think Mr. Steele is thinking deeply enough about the issue – Obama would already have to lack a significant part of a sense of self in order for this to work – but it could definitely hold water as to why he’s so much more driven and ruthless than his collectivist/statist predecessors and peers. Unlike Mr. Steele, who finally told the world “screw you” – which stopped him from becoming any more collectivized than a run of the mill conservative thinker has to be – Obama has never said no to anything the culture has tossed at him.

    What this has to do with your post is that now that he’s won the Presidency – the top of the heap and the end of the road for a social metaphysician – he’s having an identity crisis. He’s unwittingly painted himself into a corner and he’s being forced to see just how empty his soul really is. This “scorched earth” policy which he’s been hinting at recently (eg: that “good one-term President” comment, and the unmistakably Orwellian tone of his SOTU speech) could just be a last-ditch effort to keep his fragile self-image from shattering.

    I suppose “they’re nothing without me” (ie: “at least I can control whether they come down with me”) feels a lot better than facing fully the truth and admitting to yourself “I’m nothing without them.”

  • madmax


    Interesting comments regarding Obama’s race. There are a number of race-conscious conservative writers that argue that Obama is in part so alienated from America because, as an angry black man, he *hates* America. I wonder if on top of Obama’s ideological reasons for hating America if there is in fact a connection with his being black. Black men like Thomas Sowell are literally one in ten million. I think that because of the tribalism spread by today’s Left – that most black and non-white people do not feel “connected” to America and secretly want to punish it. Modern Leftism has unleashed group think and the easiest form of group think available is race awareness. So I am inclined to think that Obama’s own race awareness (and this is a man who went to Farakkahn type church for 20 years) gives him an extra authoritarian drive and determination that a Bill Clinton did not have. For that reason alone, he is more dangerous.

  • Steve D

    “It gets harder as I age to force myself to watch SOTU’s or the Oscars.”

    For the SOTU, I’ll just read some of the commentary. I don’t know of a really good reason to watch these travesties.

    That goes double for the Oscars. Even in a perfect world this would be pretty subjective – now a days it seems to just be a platform for narcissists to complement each other.

  • Steve D

    “For that reason alone, he is more dangerous.”

    Potentially yes, but also more predictable. Think of any given issue. Obama is almost guaranteed to be on the wrong side of it. Bill Clinton was more random; on some issues I actually agreed with him (but probably not for the same reasons)

    The predictability makes Obama easier to combat and he makes it easier for people to see the other side. Failing to communicate? Communication is actually something that Obama does pretty well so long as his teleprompter is available.

  • Mike N

    Watching the speech there were several times I was so mad I had to get up and walk around. I just couldn’t take this stuff laying or sitting down. But then I reminded myself of Dagney’s first words to Galt in the gulch: “We didn’t have to take any of it seriously, did we.”

    And so it is with Obama. Sure he meant some of the things he said but in terms of principles which he did not say explicitly. His criticism of the SCOTUS’s recent decision shows his contempt for the rule of law and free speech all at once. His contempt for honesty, fiscal responsibility and just plain credibility was displayed with his promise of a spending freeze–next year. That’s like a thief promising to go straight–starting a year from now.

    His pledge to start more offshore drilling is one of those he didn’t mean. If he does mean it you can be sure there will be so many chains attached it will become worthless.

    I think the tea parties will be ramping up this year with a focus of voting out the lifers in congress in November.

    One thing scares me though. On Fox I heard one Republican strategist claim that the Republican Party must identify itself with the tea party movement. “Identify itself” are code words for take over or hijack the tea party movement. I will be attending some of these locally with other objectivists to make sure that doesn’t happen in the Detroit area.

  • Myrhaf

    Thanks to all for the intelligent comments. Embedded I, you’re right that Obama’s is a pretense at integrity.

    Mike N, I believe the Tea Party Movement at large is wary of Republicans. They want politicians to prove they’re dedicated to smaller government and more liberty. In a way, the Tea Partiers are doing the same thing the netroots are doing on the left: forcing the politicians to radicalize. The netroots pressure Democrats to be more statist, whereas the Tea Parties pressure Republicans to be more free market. But the great thing is that Independents seem to be with the Tea Parties. So far the movement has looked good to me because religion is not driving it.

    I love the argument Obama began to make in the SOTU speech and continued today in Baltimore. The spin is that if the Republicans do not compromise with the Democrats and work with them to pass such things as the health care reform bill and cap and trade, then they are being obstructionist for purely political reasons. This argument is designed to regain the affections of Independents. In other words, “compromise in big government policies or you’re just playing politics.”

    As I see it, obstructing socialism is the most patriotic and noble thing a politicians can do. No compromise with poison.

  • Joseph Kellard

    Though he was a liar and opportunist, Bill Clinton at least threw a bone to freedom when he talked about the era of big government being over (I believe he undercut that statement in the every next sentence)–and he did make some minor efforts to reduce goverment, such as welfare reform. Obama, so far, is throwing no such bones. On top of that, I watched Pelosi say that if she has to pole vault over obstacles to socialized (not her word) medicine, by God she’s going to do it. The Obama-Pelosi-Reid Democrats are the steamrolling statists.

  • madmax

    There is something else about the Obama-Pelosi-Reid Leftist blitzkrieg phenomenon. I wonder if it signifies that Leftists will be like this from here one out. Meaning that Leftists are now so openly committed to socialism that they no longer feel the need to hide it or attempt to accomplish it slowly. Are we witnessing the growth of an American Bolshivism? Where will this end? Civil war?