American Elephants

A 2010 Presidential Analysis: How Does It Look Today? by The Elephant's Child

Last night, while sorting through some papers, I ran across a lengthy presidential interview by Peter Baker of the New York Times, dated October 12, 2010, called “Education of a President.” I am always interested in trying to understand why this president is doing the things he does, so I had printed it out and saved it. The president gave Baker about an hour, and access to his staff.

Obama had learned in his first two years in spite of his anti-Washington rhetoric, that he has to play by Washington rules. It is not enough to be supremely sure that he is right if no one else agrees with him. “Given how much stuff was coming at us, we probably spent much more time trying to get the policy right than trying to get the politics right. There is probably a perverse pride in my administration — and I take responsibility for this…that we were going to do the right thing, even if short-term it was unpopular.”

Baker adds:”That presumes that what he did was the right thing, a matter of considerable debate. The left thinks he did too little; the right too much.

When Obama secured the Democratic nomination in June 2008, he told an admiring crowd that someday “we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth.

Obama agreed that it sounded ambitious but said he had made progress on each of those fronts. He said he makes no apologies for having set high expectations for himself and the country. In a big messy democracy like this everything takes time.

Baker said he met with nearly two dozen of his advisers, and “the view from inside the administration starts with a basic mantra: Obama inherited the worst problems of any president in years. Or in generations. Or in American history. He prevented another Great Depression while putting in place the foundation for a more stable future. But it required him to do unpopular things that would inevitably cost him.”

Obama came to office with enormous faith in his own powers of persuasion. He seemed to believe he could overcome divisions if he just sat down with the world’s most recalcitrant figures — whether they be the mullahs in Tehran or the Republicans on Capitol Hill As it turned out, the candidate who said he would be willing to meet in his first year with some of America’s enemies “without precondition” has met with none of them.

It is a strangely interesting piece. Peter Baker comes across as a committed liberal who is attempting to do a balanced, non-partisan interview. Clearly the new administration came in intending to change everything right away, were happy with what they had rammed through, and didn’t have any understanding of why the Republicans were so recalcitrant. The depth of ignorance of the principles and policies of the Conservatives is simply breathtaking. There is no understanding of why Republicans object to Democrat initiatives except that they are just bad people.

To better understand history and his role, Obama invited a group of presidential scholars to dinner at the White House. “Obama was curious about the Tea Party movement. Were there precedents for this sort of backlash against the establishment? What sparked them and how did they shape American politics? The historians recalled the Know-Nothings in the 1850s, the Populists in the 1890s and Father Charles Coughlin in the 1930s. ‘He listened,’ historian H.W. Brands said ‘What he concluded, I don’t know.'”

Republicans believe in the rule of law. They honor the Constitution. They think the Founders did a pretty good job of setting up an exceptional country. They believe in limited government, and they believe that government should be distrusted and held to those limitations.

Democrats believe in winning elections. They regard the law and the Constitution as annoying restraints on what they want to do. They regard taxpayer money as simply their due — government money to be spent to enhance their electoral prospects. They have no concept of incentives nor of consequences. ObamaCare will “provide care for the sick” and if Republicans object — it is because they don’t care about the sick. Democrats believe in intentions and feelings.

Democrats believe in Keynesian economics. President Roosevelt called it “underconsumption”— people weren’t buying enough stuff. The current administration called it lack of demand, and were sure that if they just pushed more money into the economy, gave people more money, redistributed more wealth, then people would buy more stuff and all would be well. Oddly enough that has not turned out to be a remedy for joblessness or business’ reluctance to hire. Nancy Pelosi even announced that unemployment payments would help to grow the economy.

Has failure driven a final stake into the heart of Keynesian economics? Don’t bet on it. Bigger bonuses, redistribution of wealth, more welfare, bigger pensions, expensive public works and civic projects have bankrupted Detroit, and are on the way to bankrupting other cities, and perhaps some states as well.

Obama announced proudly a while back that he had ‘saved Detroit from bankruptcy’ without any understanding that bankruptcy is a legal protection to allow a company or a city to retrench, get their act together and recover if possible. Detroit provides a very large lesson in governance. The liberal project does not work. It is failing everywhere.

You can buy votes for a while with generous welfare, generous food stamps, generous health care benefits, nice civic projects, generous salaries and pensions for those who work for the government, but at some point there isn’t any more wealth to redistribute and those who still have some have moved to a place where they aren’t trying to tax their wealth away.

The piece can be found in the archives of the New York Times Magazine. I can’t link to it for it is behind a subscription barrier, and I have apparently exceeded my 10 pieces a month limit.

The American Media Goes In for Rabble Rousing. by The Elephant's Child

Over the weekend, the rabble-rousers brought out the protesters, demanding the lynching of George Zimmerman. The facts of the case were clear, and it was more than unfortunate— it was a tragedy, not just for Trayvon Martin and his family, but for George Zimmerman and his family, for race relations in this country, and for the justice system.

The case began on February 26, 2012. A neighborhood watch volunteer observed someone walking through the neighborhood, in which there had been regular cases of break-ins and theft, in a suspicious fashion. He called the police, and followed the man to get his location and returned to his car. Before he got to his car he was jumped from behind, punched in the face, nose broken, and knocked down. The young man straddled him and began beating his head against the concrete.  Fearing for his life, Zimmerman pulled his gun and shot the young man. He claimed self-defense. The police investigated the entire incident, agreed that it was self- defense and declined to press charges.

At that point, the case became the property of the media. It took only 15 days for the Reverend Al Sharpton, pundit on MSNBC to begin attempting to rabble-rouse, as is his wont. John Nolte summarized the steps in a timeline of the 15 months in which the media embroidered the tale and falsified every detail, turning it from what it was — into a racist murder of a black child by a white man of Hispanic heritage — excused by a racist jury in a racist legal system in a racist America.

The President improperly involved himself in a local case, the Justice Department sent teams to organize and arouse demonstrations about the racist crime, and the Justice Department saw to it that the Sheriff was fired, that charges were brought against Zimmerman, and if he was exonerated in a case of self-defense, they would just think up some other charges to get him.

Heather McDonald of the Manhattan Institute writes about the poisonous claim that the American Justice system is racist, and the damage that has been done to race relations and respect for the law by careless, irresponsible media, looking for sensation.

Close on the heels of the “biased justice system” conceit, however, is the preposterous implication that the primary homicide threat faced by young black males comes from honorary whites such as George Zimmerman. “Our children are targeted. Our community is targeted,” Martin Luther King III told the NAACP national convention on Wednesday. Protesters at the Orlando, Fla., courthouse this week held signs proclaiming “Endangered species: young black men and boys.” The New York Times ran an article today about the “painful talks” black parents are having with their children about how not to get gunned down by whites. A nurse’s assistant in Missouri told the Times: The whole situation ‘“would just make me skeptical about what crowd of white people I put [my son] around.’”



Bill Whittle: The Lynching by The Elephant's Child

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