A Grand Old Party - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
A Grand Old Party

Granted, 38 long years have passed since I took Driver’s Ed as a full-fledged course of study. In the interim my main source of continuing education in this area has been the occasional helpful motorist rolling down his window to deliver an impassioned update on some particular rule of the road dear to his heart. Usually I speed away from the scene of the lecture with fresh gusto.

This sort of commitment to being open to the input of others is a critical facet of a mature, successful life. The education of our youth is not always adequate to the moment of today. Nor is wisdom inevitably generated from within; it must often be sought, absorbed, adopted, even borrowed. For a moment this week it looked like our young President had come to accept this truism. He went to Capitol Hill to meet with members of Congress from “the other side.”

Our ever ready journalist corps brought us inside reports of the exchanges between the potent POTUS and the coterie from COTUS. They reminded him about such pesky concerns as jobs (not enough of them), pipelines (not enough of them), White House tours (not enough of them), regulations (too many of them) and entitlements (too many of them.) The President responded to some degree, mostly in general noncommittal language.

The piece that got me, though, was his answer to a query when the White House’s budget proposal would be forthcoming. He said it should be along very soon, but no one should expect it to hold any surprises. It would include the general agenda outlined in his campaign and available on the website.

Wow! The website! Who knew it to be the repository of our nation’s great ideals and grand ambitions?

The possibilities here seem limitless. If indeed the Presidential vision for the future of the country can be laid out on a website, and members of Congress need only consult it to achieve satori or nirvana, perhaps we can look forward to a day when there will no longer be a physical President clanking around in a cavernous White House. The website of the Democratic Party can run against the website of the Republican Party in an election, and may the best machine win. Here is a government program we can support.

Kidding aside, the crassness on display here is astonishing. This meeting, along with the dinner dinners with 12 Republican Senators and lunch with Paul Ryan, was billed as the new rapprochement, heralding an era of governance by consensus, of people with open minds opening their eyes and their hearts. Instead the Republicans are left mostly with open mouths, their only opportunity for further enlightenment to be found on WhiteHouse.gov.

One Congressman put it pithily when he said the President was “using us as props.” This should hardly have been surprising, considering he typically uses them as straw men. The only film in which a straw man is a character and not a prop is The Wizard of Oz, which tells the story of a fellow who promises to fill everyone’s needs but ends up leaving them all feeling empty; surely that would not be a fitting metaphor for the Obama Presidency.

The truth is that Obama does not work particularly well with Democrats, so it seems ludicrous to imagine he would be fishing for chum in the Republican stream. He is a man who is all about himself, who relates well only to those who greet him with adulation. A man like that can lead a revolution, as witness Hugo Chavez. But America does not need a revolution, it needs a reawakening, a rededication, a revivification. That is not likely to come from someone whose idea of inspiring people to better their lives is to get them onto food stamps.

To be a great leader one must be prepared also to listen. King Solomon said that salvation lies in hearing a variety of advice; he also noted that a king who seeks the truth surrounds himself with people of character. With sadness I note the absence of such qualities in the White House today.

Again I find myself thinking back fondly upon all those who have offered me unsolicited guidance about my driving over the years. They are always unfailingly honest. Why, just the other day I asked a woman what the result would be if I took such-and-such a road to such-and-such a place. She predicted the outcome without hesitation: “Get lost!”


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