"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Friday, January 25, 2013

Noonan on Obama: "He doesn't care if you like him..."

I generally don't like Peggy Noonan all that much.   I think she's had a few too many inside the Beltway cocktail parties, so she gets a bit squishy at times.   And I also think she feel in love with her own prose style a long time ago when people told her she was a great writer when what they really meant was she was a hot-looking young woman who wrote reasonably well.   Now she's "of a certain age" and still thinks she's a great writer, and that leads her to be precious most of the time.

But when she's good, I'll give her credit.   This is from today's column:

It became obvious this week that the Republican Party top to bottom has to start taking Barack Obama seriously. All the famous criticisms of him are true: He has no talent for or interest in sustained, good-faith negotiations, he has no real sense of alarm about the great issue of the day, America's debt. He's a chill presence in a warm-blooded profession.

But he means business. He means to change America in fundamental ways and along the lines of justice as he sees it...

He doesn't care if you like him—he'd just as soon you did, but it's not necessary for him. He is certain he is right in what he's doing, which is changing the economic balance between rich and poor. The rich are going to be made less rich, and those who are needy or request help are going to get more in government services, which the rich will pay for. He'd just as soon the middle class not get lost in the shuffle, but if they wind up marginally less middle class he won't be up nights. The point is redistribution.

The great long-term question is the effect the change in mood he seeks to institute will have on what used to be called the national character. Eight years is almost half a generation. Don't you change people when you tell them they have an absolute right to government support regardless of their efforts? Don't you encourage dependence, and a bitter sense of entitlement? What about the wearing down of taxpayers? Some, especially those who are younger, do not fully understand that what is supporting them is actually coming from other people. To them it seems to come from "the government," the big marble machine far away that prints money.

There is no sign, absolutely none, that any of this is on Mr. Obama's mind. His emphasis is always on what one abstract group owes another in the service of a larger concept. "You didn't build that" are the defining words of his presidency.
I think this is absolutely right, but it's also absolutely chilling.   One of the things that makes society relatively peaceful -- particularly what the Marxists would call "bourgeois" society... what I would call the world of Normalcy, of Regular Guys -- is that most people actually do care if you like them.   They don't want other people to think ill of them.   They want the approval of others.   What does it say about Obama if he truly doesn't care if half of the country doesn't like him?   I think what it says, in part, is that he truly doesn't like that half of the country.   He has disdain for people like me... white, suburban, conservative, law-abiding, money-saving, hard-working, God-fearing, church-going normal people.   He thinks we are the problem.   He thinks we are evil.   At least, he thinks we are stupid, and that our stupidity (what he might, in a Frankfurt School moment call our "bad faith") makes us do evil things, like not want to pay more taxes.

The next four years are going to be a scary ride.

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