If You Had Any Doubts Before Now that Obama Was a Dishonest Intellectual Lightweight, Read His 2d Inaugural
Obama delivered his Second Inaugural Address yesterday. Despite paeans from the usual suspects (e.g., Chris Matthews, who should really get a freaking room) that compared Obama’s speech to the Gettysburg Address or Lincoln’s Second Inaugural FFS, in reality it was just a predictably turgid pile of progressive platitudes.
The speech was chock-full of typical Obama tropes. The most typical-and most despicable-of which was his old standby, the Straw Man. Is Obama capable of giving a speech without one? Speech, hell: is he capable of uttering 3 sentences without resorting to this most grating of rhetorical tricks?
For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias. No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people.
Pardon me, but WTF ever said “a single person” can achieve great things? (And by the way, “training teachers” doesn’t come first in any list of Great Accomplishments, except at an NEA convention.)
Let’s consider Edmund Burke. Did he assert such a thing? No, that great conservative spoke of “little platoons”-private cooperative endeavors.
What about De Toqueville? Again-no. He wrote about the American genius of private associations that citizens formed, spontaneously and independently of government, to achieve the benefits of cooperation. Yeah. Collective action. Without government.
The late, great James Buchanan? No. He showed in his Theory of Clubs how private cooperation could produce (excludable) public goods.
Look. Firms are cooperative enterprises that engage in collective action to produce things that people value. Markets facilitate cooperation between diverse individuals who may not even know of each others’ existence, and who do not intend to cooperate, but end up doing so while pursuing their own self-interested objectives due to the way that price signals convey information about benefits and costs, and provide powerful incentives to act on that information. The price system coordinates, and thereby permits multitudes to cooperate.
In other words, the market system is a mixture of cooperation and competition.
In contrast, in Obama’s cramped vision, government and government alone is the sole nexus of cooperation in society. That it is coercive “cooperation”, rather than voluntary cooperation (a la Burke, de Toqueville, or firms operating in markets) escapes his attention, or at least doesn’t bother him one whit. To him the alternatives are: cooperation mediated through government and government alone, or atomistic competition, red in tooth and claw. A regurgitation of the Social Darwinian crap he heaved up a year or two ago.
I do not know whether Obama’s Straw Man is the product of extreme intellectual limitations or extreme intellectual dishonesty. I’m voting “both” actually. But regardless, it is embarrassing to witness such a display, and even more embarrassing to see it praised as some great oration.
The real Straw Man here is Obama. Straw Man as in the Wizard of Oz. Because he really needs a brain.