Roger L. Simon

Attn. Steve Jobs: Obama kills the messenger

Barack Obama is obviously in distress and he should be.  A majority of the country seem to think he is doing a poor job as president and I strongly suspect a greater number actually believe this is so and don’t want to admit it to themselves and others.

How could it be otherwise?  Modern liberalism – the ideology Obama exemplifies – relies on two reactionary pillars: the welfare state, which is currently bankrupting economies world wide, and identity politics, which is inherently racist. The former is unsustainable and the latter breeds hatred and division.  If I were in his shoes, I’d be depressed too. I might even be looking inwards for a solution or real change.

Obama, unfortunately, has instead chosen to kill the messenger who brought  some of the bad news.  In a speech at Virginia’s Hampton University Sunday he has attacked the iPod and iPad – devices on which you can listen to Mozart and read Tolstoy – as the source of our problems.

“With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations, — none of which I know how to work — information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation,” Obama said.

He bemoaned the fact that “some of the craziest claims can quickly claim traction,” in the clamor of certain blogs and talk radio outlets.

Let’s leave aside the little lie here – you can “know how to work” an iPod and and iPad literally by turning them on and Obama is a known Blackberry user in the first place – and examine the disinformation cum self-pity inherent in his statement. Yes, “some of the craziest claims can quickly claim traction,” but they can be more easily debunked than ever before.  Of considerably more significance,  in depth information on all issues of public policy are more quickly accessible to the average citizen than ever in history.

Take only one example, which will be of importance in the coming weeks.  John Kerry and Joe Lieberman (alas) are moving forward with some new version of cap-and-trade legislation. The enemy of this proposal  is knowledge, now accessible to all on the Internet.  We can find out details, actual facts, on the science of global warming, or what purports to be the science, in minutes and begin to analyze those facts for ourselves.  The iPad is just another device that makes this easy.

Obama, however, comes from a top-down, hierarchical political tradition where elites make policy for the common people, while pretending to themselves they are doing it for the benefit of the downtrodden.  No wonder he is threatened by information technology, except where it can be turned to his advantage (as in fund-raising for his recent campaign).

Obama gives himself away when he says of these devices “information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation.”  Emancipation for what or for whom?   No doubt he wouldn’t approve of people organizing for the growing Tea Party movement on their iPads.  That would be a “distraction” or a “diversion,” whereas organizing for government healthcare would be emancipating. I guess it depends on whose ox is gored.

It is also interesting that Obama chose to make his statements at a black university.  Perhaps he secretly fears that the students may be accessing the works of Shelby Steele, Thomas Sowell and Joe Hicks on their iPads. That would be even worse than improving their vocabularies playing Scrabble or studying the piano.