The Spectrum of Socialism - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Spectrum of Socialism

Sounding like he was mangling a Men’s Wearhouse ad, Senator Chuck Schumer said on Meet the Press last Sunday that he welcomed the House’s debate on Obamacare because “it gives us a second chance to make a first impression.” You are going to like the way you look under Obamacare, says Schumer. He guarantees it.

Meanwhile, the White House, even as it denied that Obamacare represents a governmental takeover of one sixth of the American economy, spent the week honoring Chinese socialists. The White House got back in touch with its inner Mao, whom former White House communications director Anita Dunn had called one of her “favorite political philosophers.” Dunn had extolled Chairman Mao before a group of high school graduates for his dogged commitment to ambitious goals. The lesson contained within his life, according to Dunn, was: “Figure out how to do things that have never been done before.”

Obamacare’s expansion of coverage to tens of millions while claiming to cut health care costs falls into that category and will require Maoist means to pull off, though the last time the Chinese met with Obama press reports indicated that even they harbored doubts about the fiscal prudence of Obamacare. The bankers of China would rather lend to hardheaded capitalists than Alinskyite community organizers. They fear that America’s dysfunctional federal government may one day default on China’s loans.

For Obamacare to deliver on its promise of more coverage at less cost, it would have to adopt the brutal rationing of the Chinese system. Civility expert Paul Krugman let that cat out of the bag last November when he blurted out on This Week with Christiane Amanpour that “death panels and sales taxes” represented the real solution to America’s debt problem. The overseers of Obamacare, Krugman said, would have to stare down the death panel critics and “decide what it’s going to pay for.”

Obama’s coziness with the Chinese is first explained by the federal government’s indebtedness to its bankers. But there is also a hint of admiration in it for China’s brisk statism. Obama too would like to preside over a command-and-control economy and socialized nanny state.

Not that China’s idea of rigid regulation and education corresponds perfectly with liberal America’s ideas. One can’t imagine Obama’s allies at the National Education Association embracing China’s level of educational rigor. They couldn’t even abide Chinese American Amy Chua’s excerpt in the Wall Street Journal on the teaching style of Chinese parents.

According to Chua, “Chinese parents can get away with things that Western parents can’t. Once when I was young — maybe more than once — when I was extremely disrespectful to my mother, my father angrily called me ‘garbage’ in our native Hokkien dialect. It worked really well. I felt terrible and deeply ashamed of what I had done. But it didn’t damage my self-esteem or anything like that. I knew exactly how highly he thought of me. I didn’t actually think I was worthless or feel like a piece of garbage.”

This sounds like a human rights violation that might concern Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who once considered herself a pioneer in the field of children’s rights. The upshot of Chua’s excerpt is that Western parents give their children “self-esteem” without teaching them any skills or forming them in good character, while Chinese parents help their children acquire skills and character without offering any blather about self-esteem. The former parenting style produces delusion in children, she says, while the latter produces “inner confidence.”

Obama frequently talks about the need to intensify American education in order to compete with China. But judging by the liberal elite’s appalled reaction to Chua, such talk is laughably empty. Obama’s America seems intent upon imitating China’s worst qualities while rejecting its best ones.

George Neumayr
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George Neumayr, a senior editor at The American Spectator, is author most recently of The Biden Deception: Moderate, Opportunist, or the Democrats' Crypto-Socialist?
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