Archive for Sunday, January 29, 2012

Obama rejects patience of politics

January 29, 2012


WASHINGTON — War, said James Madison, is “the true nurse of executive aggrandizement.” Randolph Bourne, the radical essayist killed by the influenza unleashed by World War I, warned, “War is the health of the state.” Hence Barack Obama’s State of the Union hymn: Onward civilian soldiers, marching as to war.

Obama, an unfettered executive wielding a swollen state, began and ended his address by celebrating the armed forces. They are not “consumed with personal ambition,” they “work together” and “focus on the mission at hand” and do not “obsess over their differences.” Americans should emulate troops “marching into battle,” who “rise or fall as one unit.”

Well. The armed services’ ethos, although noble, is not a template for civilian society, unless the aspiration is to extinguish politics. People marching in serried ranks, fused into a solid mass by the heat of martial ardor, proceeding in lockstep, shoulder to shoulder, obedient to orders from a commanding officer — this is a recurring dream of progressives eager to dispense with tiresome persuasion and untidy dissension in a free, tumultuous society.

Progressive presidents use martial language as a way of encouraging Americans to confuse civilian politics with military exertions, thereby circumventing an impediment to progressive aspirations — the Constitution, and the patience it demands. As a young professor, Woodrow Wilson had lamented that America’s political parties “are like armies without officers.” The most theoretically inclined of progressive politicians, Wilson was the first president to criticize America’s founding. This he did thoroughly, rejecting the Madisonian system of checks and balances — the separation of powers, a crucial component of limited government — because it makes a government that can not be wielded efficiently by a strong executive.  

Franklin Roosevelt agreed. He complained about “the three-horse team of the American system:” “If one horse lies down in the traces or plunges off in another direction, the field will not be plowed.” And progressive plowing takes precedence over constitutional equipoise among the three branches of government. Hence FDR’s attempt to break the Supreme Court to his will by enlarging it.

In his first inaugural address, FDR demanded “broad executive power to wage a war against the emergency, as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe.” He said Americans must “move as a trained and loyal army” with “a unity of duty hitherto evoked only in time of armed strife.” The next day, addressing the American Legion, Roosevelt said it was “a mistake to assume that the virtues of war differ essentially from the virtues of peace.” In such a time, dissent is disloyalty.

Yearnings for a command society were common and respectable then. Commonweal, a magazine for liberal Catholics, said Roosevelt should have “the powers of a virtual dictatorship to reorganize the government.” Walter Lippmann, then America’s pre-eminent columnist, said: “A mild species of dictatorship will help us over the roughest spots in the road ahead.” The New York Daily News, then the nation’s largest-circulation newspaper, cheerfully editorialized: “A lot of us have been asking for a dictator. Now we have one. ... It is Roosevelt. ... Dictatorship in crises was ancient Rome’s best era.” The New York Herald Tribune titled an editorial “For Dictatorship if Necessary.”

Obama, aspiring to command civilian life, has said that in reforming health care, he would have preferred an “elegant, academically approved” plan without “legislative fingerprints on it” but “unfortunately” he had to conduct “negotiations with a lot of different people.” His campaign mantra “We can’t wait!” expresses progressivism’s impatience with our constitutional system of concurrent majorities. To enact and execute federal laws under Madison’s institutional architecture requires three, and sometimes more, such majorities. There must be majorities in the House and Senate, each body having distinctive constituencies and electoral rhythms. The law must be affirmed by the president, who has a distinctive electoral base and election schedule. Supermajorities in both houses of Congress are required to override presidential vetoes. And a Supreme Court majority is required to sustain laws against constitutional challenges.

“We can’t wait!” exclaims Obama, who makes recess appointments when the Senate is not in recess, multiplies “czars” to further nullify the Senate’s constitutional prerogative to advise and consent, and creates agencies (e.g., Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board and Dodd-Frank’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) untethered from legislative accountability.

Like other progressive presidents fond of military metaphors, he rejects the patience of politics required by the Constitution he has sworn to uphold.

George Will is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group. His email address is


cato_the_elder 6 years, 2 months ago

Excellent column. Socialism is slavery. It has been inflicted on Europe for decades. We must not let it happen further here.

Jimo 6 years, 2 months ago

This from the court jester who said "The notion that the Bush administration is responsible for the state of our economy when Obama took over is the biggest lie promulgated by the Hard Left in my lifetime."

cato_the_elder 6 years, 2 months ago

On the contrary, it was, and remains, the biggest lie promulgated by the Hard Left in my lifetime. The state of our economy when Obama took over was caused directly by severe abuses in the mortgage lending market on the part of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, originally engineered by Jimmy Carter and then raised to the next level by Bill Clinton, and fully implemented thereafter by Franklin Raines, Christopher Dodd, and Barney Frank, among others. The Bush administration tried to rein in Fannie and Freddie's practices, to no avail. Raines, Dodd, and Frank all ought to be in jail for what they did. Of course, that's not what Jimo, the court janitor, has been spoon-fed by the Daily Kos, MSNBC, and Michael Moore.

Moreover, since Jimo has previously stated on this forum that, "The only feudalism we have in America is the concentration of the nation's wealth in the hands of a few," his radical views on forced wealth redistribution by government deprive him of any credibility.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

There is almost nothing factual in your post. And you want to call others liars.

cato_the_elder 6 years, 2 months ago

It's 100% factual, Bozo.

Find me an example of my ever having called anyone a "liar" on this forum.

I'm waiting.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

Distortions generated through willful ignorance and lies of omission are still lies, and that is a 100% accurate description of your previous post.

"On the contrary, it was, and remains, the biggest lie promulgated by the Hard Left in my lifetime."

This is a broadside directed at everyone you disagree with on this forum. So you even lie about calling people liars.

cato_the_elder 6 years, 2 months ago

Bozo, I've never called any poster on this forum a "liar," as you have just done to me. I often see it done on this forum by leftists like you. In the present case, I was merely responding to one of your fellow leftists having quoted a statement I'd made earlier, by emphasizing in rebuttal that the notion that the Bush administration is responsible for the state of our economy when Obama took over is the biggest lie promulgated by the Hard Left in my lifetime, and explaining why.

The Bush administration had nothing to do with the subprime crisis, which resulted from policies engineered largely by Democrats well before George W. Bush took office. Our economy was doing very well during the Bush administration before the subprime crisis took it down. The notion that the Bush administration was responsible for the subprime crisis is a bald-faced lie.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

You can't make the claim of lies being told without calling someone a liar.

And you're either lying or willfully ignorant if you think the Bush Administration has no responsibility for the subprime crisis-- there were plenty of economists pointing out that the crisis was looming early in the Bush Administration, but they did nothing but encourage it.

cato_the_elder 6 years, 2 months ago

That's complete BS, Bozo. You need to get out a history book. The Bush administration tried on multiple occasions to rein in Freddie and Fannie, but was rebuffed by politicians each time. Barney Frank said as late as 2007 that there was nothing wrong with either Freddie or Fannie. Liberal government lending policies caused the subprime crisis, Bozo, and that's what brought the economy down.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 2 months ago

Obama Looks Real Good although not perfect after 8 years of BUSHCO Wreckanomics and no jobs for about 19 million unemployed:

WE must all think about what republicans leave behind consistently for democratic administrations to clean up which BTW is no mean feat. Multiple offenses have made it difficult for America to catch up.

The magnitude of these events which is significant have cost millions upon millions their jobs,retirement programs and medical insurance!

In fact it appears to be established policy of republican administrations.

AND they are still trying to steal OUR Social Security Insurance dollars and give it to greedy Wall Street investors. This is simply unacceptable.

It's YOUR money, YOUR jobs. YOUR retirement plan and YOUR medical insurance

  1. The Reagan/Bush Savings and Loan Heist(Cost taxpayers $1.4 trillion)

  2. Wall Street Bank Fraud on Consumers

  3. Bush and Henry Paulson claimed many financial institutions were on the verge of collapse when in fact it was only three?

  4. Plus BUSHCO lied and took the nation into a multi trillion dollar war = monster money hole and thousands of dead people!!

tomatogrower 6 years, 2 months ago

Exactly. Look at California. They had to bring that liberal, Democrat, Jerry Brown in to clean up after another Republican governor.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 2 months ago

I certainly hope your comment was laced with a large part sarcasm that I simply missed. Otherwise, the only part that has any truth to it is that California has elected a liberal governor.

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

Actually, it often seems to me that it's conservatives who yearn for homogenous society that is marching in lockstep to a "strong leader", not progressives.

tomatogrower 6 years, 2 months ago

Aren't they the ones who are requiring loyalty oaths to their party?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

Gawd, George, that one was downright painful to read.

Yea, Obama's homage to militarism is also painful, but to attribute it to his "progressive" way of thinking is pure idiocy. Like Bill Clinton, Obama often abandons any progressive tendencies he may have and chooses instead to pander to the lowest common denominators that are the Republicans' bread and butter, grandiose, belligerent militarism and faux patriotism being one of their main pillars.

tomatogrower 6 years, 2 months ago

"“We can’t wait!” exclaims Obama, who makes recess appointments when the Senate is not in recess, multiplies “czars” to further nullify the Senate’s constitutional prerogative to advise and consent, and creates agencies (e.g., Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board and Dodd-Frank’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) untethered from legislative accountability."

The Senate has been in recess for a long time, even when they are in "session". Congress has become worse than the so called "welfare" queens. They get paid a lot of money with a lot of benefits. They are wined and dined by lobbyists, and they are just too busy with getting reelected to try and solve problems. So they get "think tanks" to write legislation for them. They hold up presidential nominations to make the president look bad, because that is their number 1 goal. Get rid of Obama. Not the economy. Not the wars. Obama.

I think that if there are enough votes to start a filibuster, then they should be forced to actually filibuster. Make them do some work. Make them speak and speak until they are blue in the face. Make them stay in Washington. Yes, it would keep them away from the wining and dining. But, hey, maybe they will lose some weight. A couple of senators should not be allowed to hold up a nomination. That is a dictatorship.

Every president since Washington has made recess appointments. Get over your pompous self Mr. Will. Is the US in economic crisis or not? What would it take to get your conservative buddies to act? What are the "job creators" waiting for? Romney has enough money to open several factories and create a lot of jobs on his own. He could run those factories with a small profit and still live quite well. What's stopping him? Politics?

Mike Ford 6 years, 2 months ago

like Bill Maher said....there's the real Obama and then there's the made up Obama that Falsehope, Cato, BAA, and the other imaginers make up to beat down in their imagination. SO much fun watching Dana Rohrabacher get lit up by Bill Maher the other night.

JayhawkFan1985 6 years, 2 months ago

George Will is an idiot. Why does LJW publish his crap?

Mike Ford 6 years, 2 months ago

make fun of people who expose you for the genuis you aren't.....priceless,,,,

JohnBrown 6 years, 2 months ago

From Kansas Gov. Brownback using big government to thwart Planned Parenthood to the American Taliban gunning for every abortion doctor, the American Right is all about telling other people what to do, and what not to do.

The Tea Party says "Don't tread on me", but they sure don't mind treading on others, either.

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