The Obama Watch

Beware the Jabberwock

A President who will gyre & gimble in a quasi-capitalist wabe.

By 1.25.11

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There will be no more talk of unhelpful Republicans sipping slurpees as the president and his progressive friends work up a good, honest sweat trying to haul the automotive equivalent of the ship of state out of the nearest ditch. There will be no more mention of the "millions of jobs" that were supposedly "created or saved" by the trillion dollar DOA "stimulus" program. There will be less pie-in-the-sky posturing about the enormous potential of green technologies. Mostly happily of all, there will be no Nancy Pelosi as House speaker. We won't see her constantly popping up and down in the upper right-hand corner of our television screens -- a deranged jack-in-the-box, screaming her approval every time the president pauses for an applause line.

All that is to the good. Nevertheless, I, for one, am groaning at the thought of tonight's state-of-the-union address. Do we really want another exercise in presidential rhetoric, self-aggrandizement, and detachment from what remains of a functioning real world?

When he ascends the podium this evening, Barack Obama, in his Pan-like manipulation of different guises, will be at pains to show off his new business-friendly persona and bona fides. For a president who spent a large part of his first two years in office denouncing "fat cat bankers," greedy businessmen, and the profit motive, this will be the beginning of a calculated flirtation with free-market capitalism. To borrow John Ehrlichman's phrase from the Nixon and Watergate era, he is seeking "a modified, limited hangout" with free-market capitalism in the run-up to the 2012 general election.

Mr. Obama would like us to believe than he is the impartial arbiter of all science and knowledge -- regardless of the thinness of his résumé before and, even more, since his elevation to the presidency.

No doubt we will hear (in the chummiest of tones) some of the great ideas that the Commander-in-Chief of Economic Affairs has picked up from some of his big business corporatist buddies on how to increase U.S. competitiveness, boost exports, work toward a balanced budget, and begin to make a dent in the high and persistent unemployment that has been the hallmark of his presidency.

But so what? Does any of that amount to a hill of beans against the immense damage that has been wrought by two years of manic government overreach and disregard for the will of the people as expressed in their opposition to Obamacare and other extensions of intrusive and all-too-obviously incompetent government (passing impenetrable 2,000-plus page bills into law that no one had the time to read… even if the bills themselves made any sense, which by all accounts they do not)?

Britain's Margaret Thatcher got it right when she said: "The right way to attack unemployment is to produce more goods more cheaply, so more people can afford them." Obama, of course, wants to go the other way. He prefers to reduce production and productivity and to increase cost and prices (cf. the administration's policies on energy, the environment, and health care, as well as its desire to lengthen unemployment benefits to the point of permanency and to get rid of the requirement for secret ballots in union certifications), so that more people (and more voters) are hopelessly and forever dependent on government hand-outs. 

The president can (and no doubt will) jabber on about business and his businessman friends. He can pay lip service to the idea that business is the great engine that drives economic growth and job creation. He can wax poetic on entrepreneurship and innovation. He can talk about need for greater business/government "partnership." While keeping a straight face, he can even talk about the need for reducing the regulatory burden on businesses. 

Just don't expect him exhibit any real sympathy for, or even any basic understanding of, free-market capitalism. It is contrary to most everything he believes in. It goes against the progressive/Obamanomic grain. Their mentality is all in favor of government mandates, income redistribution, government-controlled, single-payer health care, and the expansion of the welfare state. By contrast, free-market capitalism is built on the pillars of freedom of choice, private property, open competition, and individual responsibility. 

There's more than a disconnect here; there is a fatal opposition and hostility. Obama's recently adopted brand of faux capitalism (no less than the more openly expressed anti-capitalism of the recent past) would drive a knife into the heart of the real thing. As the dying Mercutio says of his stab wound in Romeo and Juliet, "Tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church door, but tis enough, t'will do."

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About the Author
Andrew B. Wilson, a frequent contributor to The American Spectator and a former foreign correspondent, writes from St. Louis.