The Corner

The United States of Sparta

My column today is on  Barack Obama’s disgusting effort to cajole Americans into falling in line and marching in step. President Bush was a fascist, we were told, because he wanted to impose democracy in unfree lands militarily in large part to ensure the long term safety of liberty here at home. Here’s President Obama openly fantasizing of using the military as a model for how we could do away with democracy in the land of the free.

No I don’t think Obama wants to turn America into a police state, he just likes to day dream about what a great place this would be if everyone would shut up and listen to him.

Something I couldn’t get into in the column, however, needs to be mentioned. Obama’s State of the Union Address was doggerel. All States of the Union have their problems thanks to the modern tradition of making them into laundry lists of dumb-but-popular proposals. But this was high school level stuff at best. I won’t even touch his spilled milk joke.

“This nation is great because we worked as a team. This nation is great because we get each other’s backs.”

Really? First of all, this doesn’t even qualify for a Successories motivational poster. Second of all: this is the rhetoric of the greatest orator since Cicero? This is barely half a notch better than “If we all work our hardest we can make this the best yearbook ever.”

Third: It is so unbelievably not true. Sure, Americans have done some great things when we’ve worked as a “team” — loosely defined. But is America more team-oriented than, say, France? China? Belize? I don’t know because it’s a meaningless sophomoric way to talk about things. We do get each others’ backs, but Obama wants to redefine that as an excuse for government expansion when historically we help each other not through government but in spite of it. Meanwhile, only a fool looks at the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and says “America: It’s all about the teamwork.”

What offends me about Obama’s speech, beyond the militarism and anti-democratic yearnings, is his continued belief that this is a lofty, compelling or interesting form of argumentation. I think the key to understanding this running theme in Obama’s rhetoric is not that he secretly yearns to be a strongman (he doesn’t) it’s that he has a basic contempt for the intelligence of the American people who don’t already love him and believes that the only way to break through to the bitter clingers is to speak in martial metaphors. “Maybe if I explain it using Navy Seals, they’ll shut up and let me do my job.” In other words, it’s disgusting if he believes this garbage and it’s insulting if he doesn’t.

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