As a Canadian, I am fully aware of how presumably rational and literate people can elect utter poltroons, nullities, and incompetents to political office. The Liberal prime minister from 1921-1930 and 1935-1948, William Lyon Mackenzie King, thought Hitler “might become one of the saviors of the world” and that “Kristallnacht might turn out to be a blessing.” When he was not busy turning away Jewish-German refugees from our shores, he was regularly communing with the spirits of his departed mother, Leonardo da Vinci, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and his beloved Irish Terriers (all, with the exception of one, named Pat). As poet Frank Scott wrote in a piece titled “W.L.M.K.,” “Let us raise a temple/To the cult of mediocrity.”
Naturally, we didn’t stop there. We put Liberal Pierre Trudeau into the PM’s seat largely because he seemed “cool” and wore sandals; Trudeau then proceeded to massively inflate the national debt, impoverish (and estrange) the oil-producing province of Alberta with an energy tax grab, clumsily attempt to repatriate the Constitution thus abetting the secessionist impetus in Quebec, and cozy up to Fidel Castro. Conservative PM Joe Clark couldn’t count properly and saw his government defeated during a crucial vote for lack of a sufficient number of members in the House. Conservative Brian Mulroney suffered from poor judgment in his choice of colleagues and a tendency to insouciant avarice that later landed him in hot water. Liberal Jean Chrétien, who liked to style himself as “the little guy from Shawinigan,” was really a cunning ignoramus who knew how to feather his nest and cling to power but nearly lost the country during the great referendum debate of 1995. Liberal Paul Martin couldn’t stop waving his arms during campaign speeches like a puppet gone berserk and pulverized the country with his numbingly repeated “Let me be clear,” which he rarely was. He lasted two years and change. (Interesting material can be gleaned from Canadian historian Michael Bliss’ Right Honourable Men.)
I have also bemusedly observed a succession of American presidents whom I would have been loath to invite to my supper table. One had to resign for approving a raid on rival headquarters. One thought we were about to enter a “new world order,” betokening his complete ignorance of history and human psychology. Another seemed to believe that the Oval Office was meant to double as a bordello, a man plainly devoid of moral standards but adroit at the practice of “triangulation.” This is the same man who signed the Motor-Voter bill into law that clogged the voter rolls with ineligibles, leading to gross ballot fraud and fostering still more ACORN corruption. His Republican successor succumbed to the drag-effect of his inept subordinates, stoked the national deficit, believed democracy was synonymous with elections and could be exported to cultures with no historical ground in which democratic principles could reliably take root, and during his second term turned his administration into a holding company for the Democrats.
Some PJM readers might ask themselves why a Canadian is so preoccupied with American politics. For one thing, America, as we used to say back when, is “where it’s happening,” for how America goes, so goes the world. Additionally, the immediate political and economic fate of my country is ineluctably tied to that of the U.S. We have the same enemies, our militaries are integrated through NORAD, we share the longest undefended border in the world, we buy property, visit, and vacation in one another’s lands, and of course, under the provisions of NAFTA, the U.S. is Canada’s largest trading partner. If America implodes, we go down the tubes with it.
Thus I pay close attention to the American political scene, which is always fascinating and always instructive, a bellwether for the future. This will explain why I have grown increasingly distraught when I consider what the American people inflicted upon themselves (and the rest of us) by electing a president on a dream and a catchphrase — a man with a dubious leftist background, with no relevant experience apart from serving two years as a junior senator, with little in the way of detectable credentials, boasting a CV with major areas blacked out, who enjoyed the mentorship of impenitent America haters, and who promised to “fundamentally transform” a country that didn’t need to be transformed, only responsibly governed.
The current American president is arguably the gravest mistake the American electorate has ever made and one it may not survive intact. It will inevitably come to regret its decision. This is not the place to run through the chronicle of Obama’s blunders, backslidings, broken promises, outright lying, despotic tendencies, shallow education, historical falsifications, ludicrous policies, betrayal of allies, and economic bungling (assuming this is not deliberate) — the record is accessible in all its details to anyone who wishes to consult it. What strikes me as most ominous, however, is that the American people have elected a president for whom the critical battleground in the world is not the Middle East or Iraq or Iran or even Afghanistan. For this president, the war he is declaring is to be fought right here on American soil against a late-awakened majority of his own countrymen, on whom he wishes to impose a political structure alien to their history, culture, economy, and feeling of exceptionalism. This is a president who is foisting a radical, far-left agenda on a center-right country and who will not be deterred from ramming his project into existence.
Indeed, one must really wonder, as Nancy Morgan has written, whether Obama is trying to bankrupt America, “adopting a strategy outlined by Cloward-Piven: overwhelm the system until it fails, and then replace it. … Based on Obama’s actions to date, reasonable people must allow for the possibility that the change Obama promised may include destroying the free market economic system in order to replace it with an economy regulated by government entities.” Similarly, if the Democratic liberal-left is so smart, Tom Blumer asks rhetorically, why are we so broke? And answers: “because they want us to be.” And as Nancy Coppock writes at American Thinker, “It is not alarmist to identify this situation as a coup d’état.”
Pajamas Media Chicago editor Rick Moran believes that “President Obama means well,” since “even at the risk of disastrous political defeat at the polls in November for his party, he is willing to undertake this imprudent, radical, and unnecessary change in the relationship between the governed and the governors.” I respectfully disagree. I suspect, rather, that what we are observing is an authoritarian personality and dogmatic political commissar intent on forcing his doctrinaire convictions upon the body politic regardless of the cost. It is, so to speak, to the Finland Station or bust. It’s either The Socialist Republic of America or it’s nothing. Let’s not kid ourselves. Obama and his catwalk crowd are not to be intimately equated with Lenin and his Bolsheviks, but they are definitely in the same snack bracket. As J. Robert Smith writes, “the differences … are significant,” yet “Obama, Pelosi, and Reid are decidedly pale reds.” Lenin, he concludes, “would be proud.”
We must not sell Obama short. He is a determined man. He is supremely confident in his oratorical powers, even if his rhetoric sounds somewhat wattled when he’s off the teleprompter. He has the backing of his party, the liberal intelligentsia, the mainstream media, and the teeming campus myrmidons. He is imbued with the theories of leftist revolutionary Saul Alinsky and has no doubt learned much from his friend and former neighbor, founder of the terrorist Weather Underground Bill Ayers, and has mastered what has come to be known as “Chicago tactics — “a machine,” according to Michael Gecan writing in the Boston Review, which “thrives on narrow or limited voting situations” and is predicated on “centralized power and influence.”
Obama’s presidential chutzpah knows no bounds and his primary impulse is winning above all else. But all this and more should be common knowledge by this time. What is not common knowledge is the extent to which the Cloward-Piven doctrine, which envisions the destruction of a capitalist economy and the democratic state on which it is based by spending the nation into financial collapse, seems to inform the president’s domestic strategy. This is the real meaning of Rahm Emanuel’s aphorism: “Never let a serious crisis go to waste.” Accelerated borrowing and debt, galloping inflation (and its twin, deflation of the currency), unaffordable government-controlled health care and the monopolizing of industries and banks, and endlessly expanding entitlement programs which the nation cannot pay for are the weapons of choice to parlay the “crisis” into the statist takeover of a free market economy. Like Shakespeare’s profligate King Reignier, the president is a man “whose large style/Agrees not with the leanness of his purse.” Those who claim with former director of Citibank, Walter Wriston, that nations, unlike individuals or corporations, do not go bankrupt, should think again. Zimbabwe argues otherwise. The miseries of Argentina between 1999-2002, staggering under the combined weight of unemployment, stagflation, and the flight of capital, furnish a paramount object lesson. Sound familiar?
A nation is not built from cyclopean stone. It is a fragile tissue of shared assumptions about the nature of its history, its social consensus, its cultural and political coherence, and its implicit sense of destiny which is always subject to the threat of unraveling into a tangle of loose strands. This is a process that has been gathering momentum for some time now. It did not begin overnight. We can trace this gradual dénouement (or unknotting) from the “progressive school” of education in the 1920s and 30s with its child-centered deprivileging of hard content in favor of method and personal experience, through the student revolution of the 1960s, to the affirmative action enterprise and self-esteem movement of the latter part of the last century, to the postmodern attack on the concept of verifiable, objective truth and the politicizing of the universities we see today.
Allan Bloom charted the impending disaster in his magisterial The Closing of the American Mind which, despite the beating he took for his views in the liberal press and the politically correct modern academy, was frighteningly prescient. This relentless disintegrative process has now come to fruition. America has been demonstrably Zinned and Zizeked. It is only a poorly educated, materially pampered, emotionally driven, and largely ahistorical electorate that could have put a man like Obama into power — a man, as we have noted, enmeshed in a circle of highly problematic friends and allies, with a very sketchy résumé, a patchy and volatile voting record in the Senate, and ultimately with no visible qualifications for the presidency — on the strength of a few resonant clichés and a skein of empty slogans.
One is reluctant to entertain suspicions of this nature, not only because they appear at first blush to be outrageously farfetched, but because they open one to accusations of conspiracy mongering, and we have had enough of such trafficking in the absurd. One can sympathize with the National Review Institute’s Matt Patterson’s hesitation to adopt the cynical attitude that sees an American president embracing a policy of “deliberate neglect, as Americans in desperate financial situations may be more likely to acquiesce to an engorged and gorging government.” “But I do know this,” he continues, “while Obama continues to fiddle his atonal health care tune, the flames of war and recession and fiscal collapse rage all around him.” No one who is not a true believer in the coming socialist utopia or a convinced Obamaniac can reasonably deny that the evidence is troubling, and moreover, disturbingly cumulative. And then we remember that echoing promise to fundamentally transform America — not merely “transform,” but to accomplish the deed “fundamentally.” That is the pivotal word. For Mitt Romney, who has just published the timely and important No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, such a transformation as envisaged by the president would lead to “unthinkable consequences” — except that such consequences have become all too eminently thinkable.
Perhaps America deserves Obama, the creature of a blinkered and self-deluded electorate, as we Canadians deserved our Mackenzie Kings, Trudeaus, Clarks, and Chrétiens. Nonetheless, we somehow managed to outlast the Beckian “idiots” we propelled into office. Maybe we just got lucky. But the world is a different place now and I am terribly afraid the United States may not be so lucky. Barring the unforeseen, what America’s enemies have not been able to do, America may do for them. The vultures gather round while the president and his minions are distracted by the campaign they are waging against their own country.
The balance of power is shifting in the Middle East. Iran is racing toward the nuclear bomb and replacing the U.S. as the dominant influence in the region. Syria accepts American gestures of reconciliation while continuing to harbor and subsidize terrorists. The Russian bear is resurgent. China, as the principal holder of American debt, has been given a free ride. Socialist Venezuela works assiduously against American interests in Latin America. Meanwhile, Obama is focused almost exclusively on drumming a ruinous health care bill through the legislature, hamstringing American business, leaving a drastic unemployment rate unaddressed, exponentially increasing the deficit, raising taxes and “redistributing” wealth. He is doing nothing to reduce America’s dependence on foreign energy sources by tapping its vast oil and gas reserves, but investing disproportionately in green consortiums which are at least a generation away from becoming even moderately efficient — if ever. He is printing money with abandon, floating unsustainable “stimulus packages,” and, no less distressing, cutting back American military might at precisely the time when it should be strengthened and projected. The prospect of crippling the nation both domestically and externally seems to be the plan. Or in any case, the facts seems to point alarmingly in that direction.
But one thing is for sure. If Obama is not stopped in his tracks and the measures he is proposing effectively parried, a “great reckoning,” to cite Shakespeare again, is heading this way “when a man’s good wit [is not] seconded with the forward child understanding.” Then we would find, like the Bard’s effete, deposed Richard II, that we are “sworn … to grim necessity.” But of course, we do not need to read Shakespeare to understand or describe the predicament we are in. We need only open our eyes and read the proximate world around us.