[Rushtalk] We the Government
Winblows at lavabit.com
Sun Feb 17 16:21:57 MST 2013
We the Government
An inaugural address of striking liberal ambition and partisanship.
President Obama's second inaugural address won't be remembered for
stirring lines, but then its purpose seemed to be more political than
inspirational. Mr. Obama was laying down a marker that he has no
intention of letting debt or deficits or lagging economic growth slow
his plans for activist, expansive government.
Inaugurals usually include calls for national unity and appeals to our
founding principles, which is part of their charm. With the election
long over, swearing in a President is a moment for celebrating larger
national purposes. But Mr. Obama's speech was notable for invoking the
founding principles less to unify than to justify what he called
"collective action." The President borrowed the Constitution's opening
words of "we the people" numerous times, but his main theme was that the
people are fundamentally defined through government action, and his
government is here to help you.
On that theme, the speech was especially striking for including a
specific defense of the federal entitlement programs that everyone knows
must be reformed. Mr. Obama cited "Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social
Security" by name as "the commitments we make to each other." Typically,
such programmatic specificity is reserved for State of the Union
speeches. Mr. Obama almost seemed to be elevating them to Constitutional
Typically, too, inaugural addresses avoid overt partisanship. But after
mentioning those entitlements by name, Mr. Obama couldn't resist saying
that those programs "do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to
take the risks that make this country great."
The "takers" line was a clear shot at Mitt Romney's most famous campaign
gaffe. This should have been beneath a Presidential inaugural, but then
again it fits Mr. Obama's post- re-election pattern of continuing to
demean and stigmatize those who disagree with him as if the election
campaign is still on.
If you think this characterization is unfair, White House communications
director Dan Pfeiffer expressed the current mood in the West Wing this
way to the Washington Post on Inauguration Day: "There's a moment of
opportunity now that's important. . . . What's frustrating is that we
don't have a political system or an opposition party worthy of the
So neither the checks and balances of U.S. democracy nor the Republican
Party that controls one branch of Congress is worthy of President
Obama's grand aspirations. Presumably they must bow to his superior
moral purposes. It's important to appreciate how much such contemptuous
talk deviates from normal public White House respect for the men and
women a President must do political business with.
U.S. President Barack Obama gives his inauguration speech.
All of this suggests a second-term President less interested in
bipartisan accommodation than in aggressively pursuing the progressive
goals on behalf of what he views as a new center-left majority. One of
his most passionate moments was even devoted to addressing "climate
change," of all things.
He rarely mentioned the subject in the election campaign. But doing
something about global warming is a commandment in the modern liberal
catechism, and now Mr. Obama says it will be a major priority in the
next four years. He even used the stock liberal description that those
who disagree with him on climate change "deny" scientific fact. It's
another example of deliberately stigmatizing his opposition.
We were also struck by what Mr. Obama didn't say considering the day and
its symbolism. He spoke on Martin Luther King Day, a national holiday,
yet apart from a fleeting reference he barely mentioned the occasion.
This is odd because there could be no greater symbolism that King's
dream has been realized than the second inauguration of our first black
President on the opposite end of the Washington mall on which he gave
his most famous speech. It was a missed opportunity to bind up old
wounds, but perhaps an intentional one lest Mr. Obama understate the
need for even more urgent government action.
Americans want their Presidents to succeed, because they naturally
assume that when Presidents do well so will the country. Mr. Obama will
thus get a respectful hearing for his agenda, even if he has never been
as candid as he was Monday in asserting his liberal ambitions. But if
his second term does break down into more partisan gridlock and rancor,
let the record show that the President set the tone with his second
A version of this article appeared January 22, 2013, on page A18 in the
U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: We the
ObombA did not win erection, Trotskite RINO Mitt Romney threw the
election. -- Rush Limbaugh
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