Barack Obama is pretty interesting when he gets in front of his money-givers — his biggest fans, I guess. In New York, he said, “Democrats are an opinionated bunch. You know, the other side, they just kinda sometimes do what they’re told. Democrats, y’all thinkin’ for yourselves.” Last year, in San Francisco, he said of Middle Americans, “It’s not surprising . . . they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them . . .”
He speaks a lot differently — a lot more respectfully — when he has one of his big national addresses: Then, we’re not red states or blue states but the United States, blah, blah, blah. Well, which is the real O? The nice, inclusive guy or the sneering, contemptuous partisan? I vote the latter: I think it’s the real O, unfortunately: the one who speaks to Democrats in New York and San Francisco. But I am not much of a psychiatrist.
Republicans are people who do what they’re told? That reminded me: One of the reasons I left the Left, or became disenchanted with the Left, is that too many of them were like sheep, all herded up — scarcely thinking for themselves at all. They were wedded to dogma and political correctness. They did not dare to deviate — not in my environment.
I remember the kids when I was in college: They would just nod at everything their professors and teaching assistants said — and all those professors and TAs, of course, were on the left. The kids might have had a “Question Authority” bumper sticker somewhere. But they never did. They were awfully unquestioning. By their disposition, if it was in the New York Times, it was true. If it was in National Review, it was not true — plus, dangerous, crazy, racist, etc.
Most of the kids who really thought for themselves were right-leaning — and it cost them something to express their views. Cost them something in social acceptance, grades, and so on. I admired these guys, even before I joined their ranks.
By the way, which side imposed speech codes on campus? Liberals or conservatives? Not conservatives, that’s for sure. If liberals are such a noisy, rowdy, opinionated, pluralistic, uncontainable bunch — how come they’re for speech codes, for shutting down the other side?
Earlier this year, I gave a speech on the theme of “Question Authority.” Many people suggested I talk about questioning O-thority.
O’s New York commentary reminded me of the notorious Washington Post line, that conservative Christians are “largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command.” When you think about it, Obama has a pretty easy time commanding people — millions of them, including important people in media and academia. Including, almost, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee! But some of us, he cannot command — and he seems not to like or respect us all that much.
Long ago, I grew tired of the conceit that Democrats think for themselves, while the rest of us just take orders from some politburo: composed of Rush, Fox, and whoever. All my life, I’ve heard Democrats quote an old Will Rogers line: “I belong to no organized party, I’m a Democrat.” Ha, ha, ha! Oh, aren’t we grand, we Democrats? We beautiful, smart, unorganizable Democrats! Well, Rogers may have had it right at one time; but in my own time, the Democrats have been a pretty disciplined bunch — and pretty ruthless, when it comes to dissent. When it comes to odd-men-out.
I have 30 more things to say, of course, but here’s one more: Do you recall President Bush insulting Democrats, as Obama has insulted us, explicitly? Sometimes our post-partisan president can be a rather nasty piece of work.