Here are three recent video clips having to do, in one form or the other, with the Affordable Health Care act or Obamacare. First, a bunch a guys in an auto repair shop looking at their premiums. The demographic of this small business seems pretty interesting. A bunch of people in middle age with a handful of children between them. Is this the future?
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Here’s another showing David Gregory interviewing Nancy Pelosi, who demonstrates what politics is all about: dodging, weaving, ducking changing the subject. He tries to ask her a simple question. She tries to give him a complicated answer.
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The final video clip is a “Get Covered” promotional clip for Obamacare. It is apparently part of a series of promotional videos which cost $1.35 million to produce.
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These videos do a good job at conveying to the viewer that something is definitely wrong; that some malaise is definitely abroad though it is unclear whether the condition is treatable in hospital emergency room. The Internet only serves a mirror held up to ourselves and we are not even sure the likeness it reflects is the true one.
Andrew McCarthy reviews Lou Dobb’s new book Upheaval, which “plots America’s position at this moment in 2014. Dobbs does not predict the future course of the American experiment, but rather charts how the nation has lost its way and arrived at a moment of upheaval. The book traces the drift away from unifying principles and cultural norms that are necessary to sustain civilizations.”
That last phrase, “necessary to sustain civilizations” underscores the inevitable insularity of critiques which focus solely on American discontent. For while it is true that America is undergoing a wrenching disorientation, so is the rest of the world. David Blumenthal and Mike Green, writing in Foreign Policy try to convince themselves that “it’s not yet 1914 but time to pay attention”.
If there are parallels to be drawn to 1914, they had better be the right ones. The prevailing narrative in Barack Obama’s administration seems to be drawn from Christopher Clark’s book The Sleepwalkers, which portrays the Great War as a tragic escalation by all sides with equal complicity and moral failing. The administration has formally accepted Chinese President Xi Jinping’s proposal for a “new model of great-power relations,” despite high-level démarches from some allies that it not do so. Why? Because Xi has described this formula as the best way to avoid the tragic wars between rising powers in the past. This may be a perfectly reasonable approach by Washington, if not for the great uncertainty surrounding China’s strategic aims. For example, what does Xi have in mind? A peaceful handover of the reins of global leadership from Washington to Beijing? It is unclear that Washington has thought through the implications of this “new model” for global order. And what the rest of Asia sees, even if this is not what the administration intended, is a deliberate shift in Obama’s second term toward a bipolar condominium with China. Those living in Beijing’s neighborhood want China to emerge as one of many, hopefully democratic, powers in Asia with the United States as the security partner of first resort.
A better read on 1914 comes in Max Hastings’s new book, Catastrophe 1914, or the classic studies on origins of war by Donald Kagan. Here the narrative is not a failure to accommodate a rising power, but rather the failure by Britain, then the prime actor in the international system, to maintain a favorable balance of power and meet its alliance obligations, and the resulting imperative to fight rather than have Germany upend the prevailing European order. Not that he wants to fight, but this is much closer to the scene that Abe and many of his Asian neighbors see unfolding in Asia, with the United States now wavering in similar ways as did Britain before World War I. It is China’s use of military, diplomatic, and mercantilist coercion in an effort to undermine Japan’s current administrative control that is at the heart of current tensions. But China’s current coercion of Japan over the islands is but a symptom of a larger illness in the international system. China has been leveraging its naval modernization to increase its movements through the seas and choke points surrounding Japan to break out into the Pacific. Last November, for example, flotillas of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy destroyers and submarines backed by air power encircled Japan for the first time, as PLA officers bragged about splitting and demolishing the first island chain. China is changing the regional balance with little resistance from the United States. Counter to Chinese public claims of surprise at a U.S. “overreaction,” recent discussions with Chinese officials over Beijing’s December air defense identification zone announcement suggests that the United States’ response was much weaker than the response the Chinese leadership had expected.
Well who’s going to pay attention? If as Green and Blumenthal argue, it is the collapse of the hegemon that leads directly instability then if Dobbs is right then world instability is guaranteed. The hegemon’s gone fishing — or worse — is embarked on a Richard Simmon’s exercise video the better to attract enrollees into Obamacare. But perhaps they’ve got it the wrong way around.
America is not falling to pieces by itself. It is the entire world, the United States included, that is going through a phase change. Bad as things might seem in America, myopia conceals the fact that it is probably far, far worse elsewhere. Neither Europe, nor Russia, the Middle East nor the Far East is in any reasonable shape. If anything they face greater challenges.
We’re just living through history again. And there’s no way out. In that game the goal is not to regain the past but to emerge whole into whatever comes.
Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with you friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.
The War of the Words for $3.99, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres
Rebranding Christianity for $3.99, or why the truth shall make you free
The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99, reflections on terrorism and the nuclear age
Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99, why government should get small
No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99. Fiction. A flight into peril, flashbacks to underground action.
Storm Over the South China Sea $0.99, how China is restarting history in the Pacific
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