Words and Deeds: the Awful Advent of Buyer's Remorse
Writing in National Review just a year ago, I suggested that "The indispensable term for understanding the Obama aesthetic is kitsch, by which I do not mean bad, cloying art but the deliberate sentimentalization, i.e., the avoidance, of reality." I went on to note the many similarities between Obama's campaign image and rhetoric and the image and rhetoric of Socialist Realism. The cult of personality. The projection of abstract virtue onto an ever-receding future. The cultivation of homogenizing, collectivist sentiment. "There is," I wrote,
something deeply childish about the Obama aesthetic. But it would be a great mistake to believe that immaturity is a guarantee of innocuousness. There is nothing at all innocent about Obama's all-encompassing aesthetic, any more than there was about the more obviously minatory aesthetic of socialist realism. What Team Obama offers is socialism lite, with fantasy plugged in where the realism used to be. At bottom, the issue that Obama's aesthetic raises belongs not to art criticism but to the question of our political future. The crucial thing to bear in mind is how uncompromising Obama's aesthetic is. Recently, a television interviewer asked Obama if he had any doubts. "Never" was his response. That's the answer he requires you to have as well.
Well, that was back on the campaign trail. How do things look seven months into the Hope-and-Change regime? Remember the so-called "Stimulus Package"? It was passed in two days by a Congress whose contempt for the people was so complete that no one who voted for the bill even bothered to read it.
But here we are, seven months later. Acknowledged unemployment is edging up to 10 percent (it's more than double that among some groups). Surely we are now entitled to ask, What did the stimulus stimulate?
Those who believe that it was a useless gesture, an act of wild extravagance without issue, do not understand the real goals of the Obama machine. The last seven months have demonstrated beyond cavil that the Obama administration has two distinct levels of policy. There are the policies they say they are pursuing -- "resetting" the economy, foreign policy, health care, etc. -- and then there are the policies they actually are pursuing -- sharply increased government intervention into the fabric of everyday life, centralization of control over wide swaths of the economy, a broad menu of egalitarian initiatives designed to "spread the wealth around" and enhance the agenda of political correctness.
Let's pause to consider the stimulus package again. As Thomas Sowell observes in his column today,
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that it will be September 2010 before even three-quarters of the money will be spent. Some economists expect that it will not all be spent by the end of 2010.
So the question naturally arises, why the rush? At the time, Obama warned of imminent collapse ("catastrophe" was his alarmist word of the day) if we didn't give him nearly $800 billion, right now, today. We gave him the money. Then what? What was the real motivation for that unseemly haste? I noted earlier this summer, although he got the dough, "the rumble you've been hearing in the background are doubts congregating. Any real stimulus does -- what? It stimulates. And what has the President's 'stimulus' (really, a spending) package given us (apart from higher taxes coming to a paycheck near you, I mean)? Take your time . . ."