Dozens of countries have “Independence Days.” November 25th, for example: Independence Day in Suriname. In that instance as in most others, the designation signifies nothing more than transfer of de jure sovereignty and de facto operational control from a distant European capital to a more local regime. 1975 in Suriname’s case. They had the first military coup seven years later.
But in America “Independence” seemed as much a statement about the character of a people as a designation of jurisdictional status. The first Americans were British subjects who had outgrown a British king as benign and enlightened as any ruler on the planet. They demanded “independence” not from foreign rulers of another ethnicity but from their own compatriots with whom they had a disagreement about the nature of government. Long before the Revolutionary War, small New England townships governed themselves to a degree no old England towns did. “Independence” is not about the replacement of a king in London with a president in Washington but about the republican virtues of a self-reliant citizenry free to exploit its own potential.
Please, no snickering. The self-reliant citizen? In the damning formulation of contemporary American vernacular, he’s history — as in over and done with, fuhgeddabouttim. What’s left of that founding vision on this less than Glorious Fourth of July 2011 in the Brokest Nation in History? “You go talk to your constituents,” President Obama taunted Republicans on Wednesday, “and ask them, are they willing to compromise their kids’ safety so that some corporate-jet owner continues to get a tax break?”
In the Republic of Brokistan, that’s the choice, is it? Give me safe kids or give me corporate jets! No corporate aviation without safe kiddification! In his bizarre press conference on Wednesday, Obama made no fewer than six references to corporate-jet owners. Just for the record, the tax break for corporate jets was part of the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009” — i.e., the stimulus. The Obama stimulus. The Obama-Pelosi-Reid stimulus. The Obama-Pelosi-Reid-Democratic-party stimulus that every single Republican House member and all but three Republican senators voted against. The Obama–Corporate Jet stimulus that some guy called Obama ostentatiously signed into law in Denver after jetting in to host an “economic forum.”
Charles Krauthammer did the math. If you eliminate the Obama-Pelosi-Reid Corporate Jet Tax Break, you would save so much dough that, after 5,000 years, you would have clawed back enough money to cover one year of Obama’s debt. Five thousand years is the year 7011. Boy, our kids’ll really be safe by then. I see some leftie at MSNBC has just been suspended for characterizing the president’s performance on Wednesday as that of a demotic synonym for the male reproductive organ. So I shall be more circumspect and say only that even being a hollow unprincipled demagogue requires a certain lightness of touch Obama can’t seem to find.
Speaking of corporate jets, did the president fly commercial to Denver? Oh, but that’s different! He’s in “public service.” A couple of weeks before he flew Air Force One to Denver, he flew Air Force One to Williamsburg, Va. From the White House (well, via Andrews Air Force Base). That’s 150 miles, a 30-minute flight. He took a 747, a wide-bodied jet designed to carry 500 people to the other side of the planet, for a puddle-jump across the Potomac.