Friday, May 17, 2013

The lessons of serial scandal

As George Will suggests today, the real import of the perfect storm of scandal that has surrounded the Obama administration isn't that it highlights the dishonesty and political venality of the current administration.

To be sure, the extent of corruption and will to power that is suggested by the Benghazi lies and the abuses of the IRS and DOJ are disturbing but what it even more concerning is the way in which the source of this wrongdoing was baked into the Obama administration from the outset.

More than most, the presumption of the Obama administration was that it would do very big things.  The assumptions were that 1) the country is a very troubling place and 2) "progressives" have the knowledge and capacity to make it better. There were relatively few limits to this hubris. From the day of his nomination, Obama literally promised to make a new world; to "begin to" heal the sick and stem the rising of the seas.

The arrogance of this is jaw dropping. The overpowering self righteousness was always at risk of dissolving into self-justification. If indeed we are charged with righting a cruel and indifferent and self destructive nation, then it is imperative that we remain in power. If we are the ones that the world has been waiting for, then little things like politics (i.e., the opinions of others) and procedural regularity are mere distractions.

"What difference, at this point,  does it make" that we deliberately misled the public about a terrorist attack that resulted in the murder of an American ambassador if that's what it took to ensure the re-election of the President? The IRS and AP events were wrong, but certainly ought not to cause us to worry about the Government managing our health care and histories. Do not fear the threat of tyranny, the President tells us, even as we see it all around us.

Will puts it this way:

Liberalism’s agenda has been constant since long before liberals, having given their name a bad name, stopped calling themselves liberals and resumed calling themselves progressives, which they will call themselves until they finish giving that name a bad name. The agenda always is: Concentrate more power in Washington, more Washington power in the executive branch and more executive power in agencies run by experts. Then trust the experts to be disinterested and prudent with their myriad intrusions into, and minute regulations of, Americans’ lives. Obama’s presidency may yet be, on balance, a net plus for the public good if it shatters Americans’ trust in the regulatory state’s motives.

Cross posted at Purple Wisconsin.


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George Mitchell said...

And the sheer arrogance by some on the right who suggest that less government will be "better" utterly fails to take into account the problems associated with the "less regulation, less government, free market" approach of the late 1800's, the 1920's, and the 1980's.

Certainly, more government is not the answer, but neither is less government. Somewhere in the middle is desirable; that's if, the left and the right stop acting like children.

Keith Schmitz said...

Rick, why don't you can all your highfalutin talk and just use the word you are looking for -- uppity?

I have personally seen this character assassination at work from the right. Make something up and then work it like a rented mule. Get lathered up, rant, repeat. Your little buddy Sykes is a master at it.

The solace the rest of us can draw from this is the sweaty eagerness to prove something is going is so evident that eventually the American people will take it for what it is. Cheap attempts by the right to defame a decent human being and a way to allow substantive policy from being enacted.

Things will end up like they did under Clinton -- he came away more popular than at the start.

And don't worry. Obama knows how to play you people.

Anonymous said...

"Obama knows how to play you people"

Like a made man plays the businesses on his block for "protection".