I had this awful feeling, a few months into Obama’s presidency, that he had no wish to lead the nation, but to rule it. One of his minions (I can’t remember who, sorry) had actually used the phrase “when Obama rules” prior to his inauguration, but I’d excused it as a misspeak. Now, I am not so sure.
In five years of blogging, I have never called a president by anything but his name or his title. I have booted people who have tried to call past or current presidents by foul nicknames. President Obama is President Obama. But I am starting to wonder if he should not also, quite accurately, be called President Opposite. Increasingly one gets the sense that everything he does is accompanied by the hypnotic words…“what you see me doing, is not what I am doing…who do you trust, me or your lying eyes?”
The press calls it striking a delicate balance:
The Obama administration struck a delicate balance on executive pay Thursday, blaming flawed compensation packages for encouraging disastrous risk-taking but insisting it doesn’t want to dictate how corporations reward their top people.
Translation: Do you see me dictating how corporations will compensate their top people? Now, I’m not doing that…but here is what I decree these corporations will do…
Gene Sperling, a top counselor to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, conceded to a congressional committee that imposing compensation caps on companies could lead to a flight of talent. “I can say with certainty that nobody in the Obama administration is proposing such a thing,” he said.
Translation: Yes, this is exactly what the Obama administration is proposing.
…he and officials with the Federal Reserve and the Securities and Exchange Commission laid out a case for how payment structures rewarded short-term gains at the expense of long-term performance and contributed to the nation’s financial crisis.
The administration plans to seek legislation that would try to rein in compensation at publicly traded companies through nonbinding shareholder votes and by decreasing management influence on pay decisions.
Remember when President Obama said he didn’t want to run corporations? He didn’t think it was the role of the government to run corporations? He just wanted to see the economy set right?
Can this brilliant, Harvard Law grad explain how-with unprecedented spending, an unprecedented and unsustainable deficit and inevitable tax increases looming before every person in the country-he is going to “fix” the economy by overseeing reductions in pay, thus decreasing the very tax base he needs to exploit, in order to sustain his spending?
My father dropped out of High School during the depression, to help his widowed mother; even though he did not have an Ivy-League education, he understood that you collect more tax revenue when people are employed and earning good money than when they are unemployed, or limited in their earnings. Good heavens, in 2006, even the NY Times had to admit that stoopit Bush and his stoopit tax cuts had resulted in high employment and such a record-level collection of tax-revenues that the deficit was being paid down a head of schedule!
Obama wants to punish the high-risk takers? Geez, that’s every parent in the nation. That’s every creative thinker who goes out on a limb, or dares to think outside the box. That’s every starry-eyed kid who dares to dream a “foolish” dream. That’s everyone who has ever looked at a problem and devised a solution. Risk has come with every great bridge, every skyscraper, every airplane, every cesspool!
Obama wants to discourage risk? That means he wants to discourage America, itself! The nation was founded on a great risk! It has flourished on great risk! It has lifted up and sustained other countries thanks to its willingness to take great risks!
Does Obama know anything about history? Does he understand that a Berlin Airlift cannot happen unless a nation has a mindset that welcomes risk and challenge? The Marshall Plan could not have evolved without risk. We would not have reached the moon without a mindset that saw risk and shrugged. We would not have toilets if a capitalist had not taken a chance, held his breath and flushed.
What sort of American president is this, who tells Americans to “stop acting like Americans? Go to sleep; stop dreaming glorious dreams!”
America has been the country millions of inventive, creative-mad people have wanted to come to because it was the country that would allow them to run with their madness, give them the freedom to take their risks, and see what they could make of their lives and their visions. Liberty demands that human people – imbued with the Divine Spark of creativity – be allowed to use their gifts, to take them as far as they can.If we’re not supposed to take risks, if underachievers are to be penalized when their attempts fall short, then America will cease to be America, vibrant America, alive America. She will go to sleep, like most of Europe. She will offer to the world all the inventiveness, joy and wonder we see offered by Cuba, the old USSR, sad old England, and worn-out France. But it will be a terrible sleep, without the dreams.
A while back I wrote:
America’s honor is no illusion. Imperfect as it may be this is still the land to which – in large or small ways – every free nation owes its current liberty. This is the nation that has routinely sent its idealistic young men off to foreign lands, to die there, not for empire, not for real-estate, but for the protection and advancement of that unseen thing that is freedom, the strengthener of the human spirit, the burnisher of human potential. First Children and their motley co-horts aside, this is still the nation to which millions of creative or industrious people wish to come, it is the nation to which the oppressed call out for rescue and relief.
Obama said he wanted to bring “hope” to America. He kept using that word; I don’t think he understood what it means. What President Opposite is offering is the opposite of hope:
When folks feel good about what they are doing, when they feel like they have some control over the direction their lives take – they have hope. And hope is not simply a feeling. Hope says, “awake, O Sleeper, arise from death!” Hope is the builder of bridges, the tamer of winds, the harnesser of ideas and possibilities. A poor man with hope is immeasurably richer than a wealthy man without it, because he carries within him the spark that can alight a thousand tomorrows.
By the curb, toward the edge of the flagging,
A knife-grinder works at his wheel, sharpening a great knife;
Bending over, he carefully holds it to the stone—by foot and knee,
With measur’d tread, he turns rapidly—As he presses with light but firm hand,
Forth issue, then, in copious golden jets,
Sparkles from the wheel.
– Walt Whitman “Sparkles from the Wheel”
Hope sparkles from the wheel, and all possibility is contained therein. And the man who can sharpen his own knife, and teach his children that craft, will never be helpless or hungry or cast aside as worthless. He will, therefore, be at peace, and so will his house, and columnists will write about it in wonder.
I never, ever thought I’d live to see the day an American president told America to stop, just stop, being itself. The opposite of hopeful. No risks. Tight controls. The opposite of America. Weep, folks. Put your dreams away, and weep.
Mr. President – if you want to pursue a policy of “opposites” then may I respectfully suggest that you adapt the George Costanza theory. Think of whatever it is you want to do, and then…DO THE OPPOSITE. Please. It might save the nation. And your foundering and panicking and slowly awakening party, if you care.
Easing Into Exec Pay Limits
Is Obama’s Economic Maneuvering Room Already Exhausted?
The Mythological “created or saved”
The High Risk President.
AMA rejecting Obamacare (H/T)
About that Kennedy-Dodd bill…
The Health Care Trojan Horse
Obama misleads on Health Care
Is the left scared?