Thursday, October 28, 2010

Where Obama dropped his molasses jug

By Donald Sensing


An Old South expression for making a major error in judgment is, "That's where he dropped his molasses jug," referring to consequences of an error so messy that cleaning them up will be difficult and frustratingly slow.

There's no shortage of pundits explaining how President Obama and the Democrats dropped their molasses jug. Last summer, former Obama promoter Mort Zuckerman of US News wrote that the main problem with Obama and administration is that they simply are amateurishly incompetent. The American Enterprise Institute's Marc Theissen wrote in late October that Obama dropped the jug just three days after inauguration when he dismissed Republican Congressmen with a flippant, "I won."

The president himself has said he spent too much time on policy and not enough time on PR work, which has long been the Democrats' favored fallback excuse ("We just didn't get our message out"). And they have another excuse: it's the voters' fault! We're scared and not thinking straight, as the president said very recently.

Well, fine. I think that the Democrats' most fundamental mistake is twofold. First, they did not understand that "Hope and Change" was a catchy campaign slogan but can never be a governing philosophy. Second, they made the most common Leftist mistake there is: they really believed that "unwashed middle" America (in Katie Courics' eloquent phrase) truly wants statist control of their daily lives.

The former first. Barack Obama did not understand that people say they want change but almost never actually mean it. Anyone who has become the chairperson of a volunteer organization, whether a civic club, the county chapter of a political party or, say (cough) pastor of a church, soon learns that what people say they want and what they will actually support are extremely divergent.

What they really mean is that they want change to affect other people but not themselves: "change for thee, but not for me." Each wants more of what he already has with no adversity in his personal situation.

In short, voters do indeed want to have their cake and eat it, too (which I wrote about here). What Obama does not understand even now is that the enthusiasm with which the majority of Americans embraced his campaign message of hope and change should never have been confused with their willingness to be the changees.

Second: Obama, like all "progressives," thinks that the masses are actually eager to be embrace statist control of their lives. The progressive world view is that ordinary people are basically incapable of living rightly. Therefore, they must be managed for their own good, and the more closely the better. Furthermore, they think that the masses agree. But we don't and we won't.

It is critical to realize, though, that "change for thee but not for me" is also the motto of the Political Class. That's why the president and his family are not going to be the beneficiaries of Obamacare. Nor will the Congress or its staff. The Political Class is more resistant to change than the rest of the country because they are far more heavily invested in the status quo. They have the power to micromanage us, but their rules for you and me never decrease their wealth or power.

Someone said awhile back, "It's November or never." Nov. 2's bell will toll not only for Democrats but also for Political Class Republicans. If their party fails in the next two years to turn the government back toward public service rather than overlord masters, 2012 will be a political bloodletting not seen since at least the elections of 1860. And we know what followed that election.

Update: Heh, just found this observation from earlier this year by the Denver Post's David Harsanyi. "Progressivism is the belief that we have too much freedom with which to make too many stupid choices."

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