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Ed Driscoll

Mourning in America

September 22nd, 2010 - 12:22 pm

Glenn Reynolds links to video of, as he puts it, an Indiana Law grad who asks President Obama: “Is the American Dream Dead for Me?”

As Glenn notes, Obama never answered the question; if he did I would suspect it would some sort of variation on his astonishing answer in early 2009 regarding American exceptionalism:

“I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism, and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.”

As I wrote last year:

[It's] is a perfectly Clintonian “I didn’t inhale” sort of response: I’m willing to pretend, for the purposes of the more ceremonial aspects of my current position, to believe in the charade of American exceptionalism. But as a dedicated transnationalist, I’m far, far beyond such a petty antediluvian concept, myself. After all, those modern day “Greeks” and “Brits” are living on history that’s increasingly in the rearview mirror. They and plenty of other exhausted former empires believed in their own exceptionalism, and didn’t they seem awfully foolish in retrospect when their period in the sun expired, leaving behind nations a shell of their former selves — a moment I’m doing my best to engineer, myself.

Or as Obama said as a candidate in August 2008, in one of his disastrous, but highly informative forays away from the teleprompter:

“America is …, uh, is no longer, uh … what it could be, what it once was. And I say to myself, I don’t want that future for my children.”

So instead, we’re passing on mountains and mountains for our children — and one of Glenn’s readers seems prepared to lower the expectations for his progeny:

I think the notion of the American Dream needs to be recalibrated — especially the whole question of whether your kids will be better off than you.

The standard-of-living floor has risen so much over the past 60 years or so that it’s difficult to quantify an increase, or to set realistic expectations. It’s kind of like my grandmother who passed away at 93 — as I got older I told her I was jealous of the advancements she witnessed, from seeing her first car while riding in a horse-drawn cart to indoor plumbing to the moon landings, and that I didn’t think anyone outside of her generation will ever see such a radical change. My father immigrated from the middle east and his arrival to the US may as well have been to another planet.

Given that past and the fact that the “poor” in this country have microwave ovens, cable TV and cell phones, and technological advances seem focused on laptops and phones, what does an increased standard of living look like anymore and how does that translate to thoughtful and achievable “American dream”?

This will be a critical concept as we try to pull ourselves out of this financial mess.

To which Glenn adds in response, “Hmm. Well, we could focus on whether our kids are more free than we were . . . .”

Hey, there’s a thought, which brings to mind a key question for November:

“Are you better off than you were four years ago, when the Democrats took control of Congress?”

And just as Kyle-Anne Shiver dusted off then-Candidate Reagan’s defining line from the fall of 1980, Citizens for the Republic have created the perfect video inversion of President Reagan’s iconic 1984 ad, found via Steve Green. It brilliantly documents, in appropriately elegiac tones, the sentiment felt in much of country these days:

YouTube Preview Image

Steve also spots Kathleen Parker, the Washington Post’s conservative in name only pundit, having second thoughts about the president she’s been flaking for:

Is it true? Is Obama responsible for our near-dire circumstances?

I have never been a fan of presidents who place blame on their predecessors or who accept credit for events that couldn’t have been engineered so soon in their tenure. Politicians will always massage the data to tell the story their way. Bill Clinton’s happy economy surely owed some credit to Reagan. George W. Bush’s ill fortunes surely had at least some of their roots in Clinton’s lack of attentiveness. Obama clearly inherited a load of fertilizer, but his policies also have exacerbated those effects. Obama’s successor most certainly will benefit or suffer to some degree from seeds the current president planted.

Nevertheless, it is probably fair to say that Obama’s ideas were too big for America’s appetite. It would have been nice had he made a few incremental repairs to the economy and left the transformative events for a less stressful time.

Sorry, you can’t continue to hold yourself out as a conservative with the language in that last paragraph — because it implies that you’re absolutely onboard with the president’s transformative ideas. You just wished it was a nice sunny day when we strapped ourselves in to take the plunge on the Obama Roller Coaster, rather than bad weather. That sort of language should get Kathleen permanently drummed out of the VRWC, at least until she issues a mea culpa.

Speaking of which, as Steve writes:

The American public was sold out by Parker, David Brooks, Peggy Noonan and Chris Buckley — all those conservative commenters who helped Obama pass himself as a moderate. Look, the Complicit Media was 100% in the bag, which is why we needed those “moderate” conservatives to help blow the lid. Instead, they joined the game.

So, Ms. Parker, I know you don’t like Presidents who “place blame on their predecessors.” But we’d respect the hell out of a columnist who can voice the occasional mea culpa.

I suspect that won’t happen until 2013 at the very earliest.

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