Saturday, August 6, 2011

Isn't it time we grew up? - by Roger Kimball


August 4, 2011 - 6:32 pm - by Roger Kimball

A couple of days ago, when the Dow lost 265 points, I said that it was “naked emperor time in Washington.” The Entitlement Express was finally screeching to a halt at the end of the line. But that wasn’t all.
The hypertrophied Potemkin Village that is Washington, D.C., was also coming to the end of its line. When Barack Obama (I was going to write “Barack Hussein Obama,” but some of my liberal friends tell me it is bad manners to do so, because . . . well, I’m not sure why, but I am happy to forbear mentioning his middle name) — anyway, when Barack Obama was just Senator Obama on the hustings, there was a lot of talk about his lack of experience. He had never run anything. He was a typical hothouse product of our self-satisfied liberal elite culture: untested, insulated from reality, but marinated in the intoxicating certainty that the liberal consensus he represented was the key to enlightenment and prosperity — provided, of course, that those angry, narrow-minded people who “cling to guns or religion” would get out of the way.
Back then, in September of 2008, I suggested that experience, while not the only important qualification for a presidential candidate, was at least one important thing. “Leave aside for a moment,” I wrote,
the most serious questions about Obama: 1) the question of who he really and where his true allegiance lies, and 2) what he and his team would do to the country’s economy, civil liberties, and standing in the world – leave aside those momentous issues for a moment and just consider his stunning lack of experience. It’s not only that he is a first term Senator, it is also that he is a first-term Senator who has been ostentatiously hors de combat when it came to voting.
Voting “present” may be a sign of political calculation; it is not an attribute of political wisdom, insight, or leadership.
In his State of the Union address in January 2010, Barack Obama predicted that his menu of liberal nostrums — higher taxes, greater state control, “investment” in so-called “green” industry — would create “countless jobs.” In a way, I suppose he was right: the jobs are “countless” because you cannot count them: they do not exist.
The Associated Press today: “Dems warn long-term jobless could derail recovery.” Do you think so?
But of course the big news today was a number: 512 — the number of points the Dow lost. Some one with a calculator can tell us how many billions of dollars that represents. You don’t need a calculator to know what it means about the people we’ve elected to lead us, above all about Barack Obama, the smooth-talking neophyte who thinks economics is about redistributing wealth instead of (what it is really about) creating wealth.
The American poet Frank O’Hara wrote a poem whose title I’ve always admired: “Meditations in an Emergency.” That’s where we are now: you can tell it’s an emergency by the panic you smell in the air. It will get worse. And as it does, more and more people will recognize an important fact: that Barack Obama is presiding over a Potemkin Village. He hasn’t a clue about what to do to salvage the U.S economy. How could he? He was brought up on the anti-growth, statist nostrums that forsake basic human psychology for the sake of utopian schemes: forget about anything so crass as incentives! We here who are in charge will tell you how to make an electric car that no one wants but that you should buy it becuase it is “good for the environment!”
I want to underscore the fact that it is not just Barack Obama who is living in la-la land. It’s the whole apparat. The suits in Washington have ingested and then regurgitated the neo-Keynesian socialist pabulum that mesmerized elite opinion some time in the 1960s and has never let go.
But we are letting go. By “we” I mean the people who these fools and scoundrels in Washington have misled. They couldn’t help it. They don’t know any better. How cruel it is going to be when the mentally-challenged Joe Biden is exposed as the Grecian formula empty shell that he is. And Barack Obama . . . It was a good show while it lasted. If you closed your eyes and said “spread the wealth” he might have seemed, for a moment, like a serious politician. Really, as everyone sees now, he is a Gatsby-like figure who smiles and smiles but is imploding before our eyes.
On a summer-stock stage, it might have been an illuminating melodrama. Alas, we threw caution to the winds and elected someone who resented this country, was suspicious of wealth, and whose reflexive commitment to left-wing nostrums would gravely damage the most productive economy the world has ever seen. Tens or hundreds of thousands of people will suffer because of our naïveté and Barack Obama’s malevolent stupidity.
How much worse does it have to get? It’s time that we grew up and demanded that the people entrusted with the nation’s business acted like adults.