The Corner

‘The Purposes of Political Combat’

In the latest Commentary, John Podhoretz has a great defense of politics in its most important sense and an analysis of why Obama so often shows contempt for it. A key bit at the end:

. . . the national counter-assault against Obama is a manifestation of democratic politics as they ought to work. A rather vague promise of change during his presidential campaign morphed afterward into an agenda of astonishing size with an astonishing price tag. The passage of a $700 billion bank bailout supported by Obama before the election was followed by his $787 billion stimulus package. No sooner had that $1.5 trillion been committed than the president began advocating cap-and-trade legislation that would cost $800 billion through the election in 2012. And then came health care, with a cost of, at the barest minimum, $900 billion over 10 years, and very likely double that or more.

Americans did not take this grandiose and ruinously destructive plan on faith, nor should they have. A majority of them may have voted for change, but that change was change from something, from George W. Bush primarily, and not necessarily change toward something, toward a wholesale revision of the relation between the state and the economy. In response to Obama’s call for an end to talk and a time for action, an engaged and concerned citizenry used whatever political means were at hand—from spontaneous rallies following a financial consultant’s call on a little-watched cable-TV show for a revival of the Boston Tea Party, to a Senate victory in Massachusetts for a candidate promising to be the 41st vote to block health care.

In using politics to slow down and thwart him, Obama’s rivals are not simply talking. They are acting as citizens in a democratic republic. When challenged by their president, they, too, decided that the time for talk was over and the time for action had begun.

But read the whole thing.

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