Monday, May 18, 2009

Obama Walking Backwards Toward a Precipice, or Wishful Thinking?

We are beginning…to see fissures in Obama’s Pentelic statuary. And the cracks will widen, because…he has taken on human nature itself, age-old logic, and common sense-opponents that even a Harvard Law degree and Chicago organizing are no match for…
Cracks in the Façade, Victor Davis Hanson, Pajamas Media, 5/15/2009

Read all of Hanson’s fine analysis at the link. It’s an excellent detailing of the folly of replacing practical plans with a hope that denies human contingency and which, confronted by such unpleasantries as ordinary human expectations and the law, resorts to bullying and rhetoric as a substitute for rational policy. We’ve had a lot of this kind of thinking over the last century. It’s sometimes startling to find out that the minds involved were not only Neville Chamberlain and Jimmy Carter, but an assortment of totalitarian dictators. If you see one of the few color documentaries from the mid-1930s in Germany, you may be startled by the message underlying the pictures of the great autobahns being built, the youth movement being exercised, and the gentle, uplifting talk about the New Germany, where a great social experiment will transform the defeats and sorrows of the past and lead to the great future. Much the same kind of propaganda was coming out of the USSR as well.

The tragedy, viewed from the actual history, is that such hopes are usually about agendas that are concealed from the public or, worse, about a leadership hopelessly out of touch with human life. Usually, it’s a mixture of both. And, America, for the first time in seventy-five years, is truly vulnerable to such fantasies. A bad mix of weak, or nonexistent, education for the young, a virtual absence of critical observation in big, commercial media, an astonishing lack of perspective in a population who have not experienced a big financial shock in their lifetimes, and, as Hanson has written about often, a population that seems to think they’re entitled to anything they want whenever they want it regardless of the cost, whether of the money borrowed, or the strategic risks of depending upon potential, and real, enemies for both credit and energy supplies.

Imagine Wiley Coyote, running off a cliff, hanging in midair in that wonderfully surreal moment of stasis before he falls, hearing a voice above him saying “hang onto my hand and I can save you.” In the cartoon, everybody would fall – puff of smoke far below. Romantics in politics never see that. Perhaps, it’s because they enjoy the sensation of weightlessness.


No comments: