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Roger’s Rules

“Europe’s prospects brighten as U.S. fades.”  Thus a headline in Reuters this morning.

German business confidence is soaring while U.S. consumer sentiment sinks.

Britain’s second-quarter economic growth was almost twice as fast as expected, the strongest in four years.

Meanwhile, economists have steadily marked down forecasts for Friday’s U.S. gross domestic product report.

Thanks a lot, Mr. President.  And thanks to you, too, Secretary Geithner. You inherited the richest, most productive country in history. And you have set it firmly on course for economic stagnation.

It’s all part of your effort to “fundamentally transform the Untied States of America,” isn’t it, Mr. President? That’s what you promised in October 2008: to change America fundamentally. Who would have predicted you were really serious? (Well, some of us did, but you know what I mean.)

You’ve made it clear that, deep down, you really don’t like the United States. In that, you are like many of your Ivy confrères, all those Harvard-Yale-Princeton types who find the spectacle of individual freedom playing itself out irredeemably vulgar. You all are beyond allegiance to anything so parochial as an individual nation. And when it comes to what (even now) is the world’s nation of nations, the United States, you are more than embarrassed: you are downright impatient.

Samuel Huntington was right to call you “deconstructionists.”  He wasn’t talking about the reader-proof theories of Jacques Derrida but something much more practical. The sort of deconstructionists he had in mind were politicians and academics and policy makers who

promoted programs to enhance that status and influence of subnational racial, ethnic, and cultural groups. They encouraged immigrants to maintain their birth-country cultures, granted them legal privileges  denied to native-born Americans, and denounced the idea of Americanization as un-American. They pushed the rewriting of history syllabi and textbooks so as to refer to the “peoples” of the United States in place of the single people of the Constitution. They urged supplementing or substituting for national history the history of subnational groups.  They downgraded the centrality of English in American life and pushed bilingual education and linguistic diversity. They advocated legal recognition of group rights and racial preferences over the individual rights central to the American Creed.  They justified their actions by theories of multiculturalism and the idea that diversity rather than unity or community should be America’s overriding value. The combined effect of these efforts was to promote the deconstruction of the American identity that had been gradually created over three centuries.

Taken together, Huntington concluded, “these efforts by a nation’s leaders to deconstruct the nation they governed were, quite possibly, without precedent in human history.”

Of course, you are a special case, Mr. President. Your dislike of America has the added ingredient of what, for lack of a better term, I’ll call metaphysical ambivalence.  At its core, as Samuel Huntington pointed out in Who We Are, the United States is based upon certain “Anglo-Protestant values” that generations of immigrants had absorbed and made their own in the process of becoming American citizens. (Oh, how the left hated to have that pointed out!) Your filiations lie elsewhere, which perhaps explains why you bow to Saudi princes, why you forbid the conjunction of the  adjective “Islamic” with the noun “terrorist,” why, to take an example from the day before yesterday, you pretended to criticize the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi — all Americans, you said, were “surprised, disappointed and angry” that the Scots released him. But then it turns out that your State Department explictly, if secretly, told British authorities that you preferred his release for “compassionate” reasons. “All Americans” — did that include you Mr. President? I’m not asking about where you were born: I am asking about where your fundamental allegiance lies.

I believe that question is going to be on the lips of more and more people as the devastating effect of your radical social and economic programs is felt by more and more ordinary Americans. Consider: You are running far and away the largest deficit in the country’s history: $1.7 trillion. “Deficit,” “$1.7 trillion”: it all sounds so abstract, so far away. What is a “deficit,” anyway? And who can make sense of that number: 1,700,000,000,000?

What we need is a new Mr. Micawber who can dramatize the prospect of want, of penury concealed in the little word “deficit.”  Quoth Micaber: “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.” Who is the cannier economist, Wilkins Micawber or John Maynard Keynes? Keynes never got his big brain around the fact that as the zeros multiply,  a yawning vista of impotence, of incapacity, of paralysis stretches out before us. “Misery,” indeed.

It’s quite clear — you’ve already announced — that you are going to use this mind-numbing deficit as an excuse to raise taxes—another abstract phrase worn smooth by repetition. The power to tax, Chief Justice Marshall observed long ago, is the power to destroy. How much of the American dream are you preparing to dismantle by depriving people of the means to fulfill it? Do you want to rein in the deficit? Stop spending. But you won’t do that while you can continue depleting the substance of the country by draining away the economic life blood of its citizens.  Ultimately, the issue is not the deficit but the spending. That is, the horrendous deficit is a product of incontinent spending.   You won’t admit that because both spending and taxing are instruments for the consolidation of your power — no matter that the potency of the country as a whole is diminished in the process.  Raising taxes diminishes revenue: that has been shown again and again.

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