The Corner

Hope and Change’s Shelf Life

After listening to Obama’s speeches of the last few weeks, I think almost everyone now knows the boilerplate.

In essence, the script is the following: First, the president clears his throat by trashing Bush and/or the prior administration.

Then, as many have noted, Mr. 50/50 creates the proverbial straw men on the two extremes (e.g., those who wish to shred the Constitution to fear-monger, those who do not take threats as seriously as he does), as he places himself in-between two false poles.

Next he evokes his past (three themes usually here: He has lived in a different country; he is of a different race than mainstream America; and, in extremis, his father was of a religion other than Christianity), with a grand finale of pulling all that together to imply to us that if we don’t share his present views, then a rare avatar of hope and change such as himself would never have been president — he being the true reification of what America always could have been (a refined trope of Michelle’s “first time” she was proud of her country.)

Frankly, and with all due respect to our president, it is time to get a life and move on. It is almost midsummer of President Obama’s first year and there is no longer any need to constantly reference the past administration, usually in disingenuous fashion.

We know already that we have elected the first post-racial president whose personal profile represents a landmark change from previous presidents.

And we don’t need any more generic nouns like hope/change in lieu of honesty about a lot of things: Our annual borrowing may reach $2 trillion; states are going bankrupt; massive infusions of borrowed cash must be paid back and cannot masquerade the prior ineptness of business and labor models in banking and the auto industry that sent firms into bankruptcy. Even higher taxes won’t begin to cover the cost of proposed massive new spending programs that are unprecedented. All the prior demonized Bush anti-terrorism protocols have been kept with mere hope and change veneers.

In other words, rather than explaining the bleak choices before us and explaining why his preferences have the best chance of succeeding, Obama has so far reduced his presidency to two themes: “Bush did it” and “I’m not your normal white male President.” If he keeps this monotony up, at some point even the comedians are going to notice the predictability.

Sorry, we need more than that to keep us safe from some creepy enemies and get the economy back on track.

Victor Davis Hanson — NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.

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