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Anagnorisis and the September 10 Presidency of Barack Obama

February 6th, 2009 - 8:20 am

I hope you are paying attention. This is a moment when, were we studying Greek tragedy, your professor would get that gleam in his eye as he stood in front of the class and inscribed the word “anagnorisis” in large letters on the blackboard. Anagnorisis–the awful moment of recognition when ignorance gives way to knowledge.

Take the issue of taxes. You may have wondered, as I used to wonder, why it was that Democrats were so keen on raising taxes. Did they really like shoveling all that dough into the Uncle Sam’s maw? Over the last couple of weeks, it has suddenly dawned on me, just as the nature of Oedipus’s unorthodox family arrangements suddenly dawned on him, that the reason Democrats don’t mind raising taxes is that they are perfectly happy to forego paying them. Take our new Secretary of the Treasury: a level-headed chap, it seems, but clearly one who has a cavalier attitude about forking over the right stuff in the designated quantities to the IRS. I sympathize with his attitude, but have to question the propriety of his now heading the organization responsible for collecting the pelf.

Of course, Geithner is not the only offender. There’s Tom Daschle, there’s Hilda Solis, there’s Charlie Rangel, there’s . . . Hey, it’s crowded up there at the top! And don’t forget about chaps like Christopher Dodd, who gets sweetheart mortgage deals because he is a Senator and then refuses to disclose the details of those deals. Have you tried that lately?

Here’s the fruit of this moment of recognition: everyone is equal before the law, except for Democratic lawmakers who are a little bit more equal than the rest of us slobs. That’s why, on courthouses across the country, the figure of Justice blindfolded is being replaced by a figure of Justice giving a sly little wink.

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