ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight wrote this column appearing October 29, 2010 on The Washington Times website.
One of the most memorable scenes in The Wizard of Oz is when Toto yanks on the curtain to reveal the bogus wizard faking a larger-than-life image. In 2008, the media played the role of the curtain, shielding Barack Obama. Not enough Americans saw his thin resume, lifelong radical connections, sealed college records or brief U.S. Senate voting record, which the National Journal pegged to the left of socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, Vermont Democrat.
At the time, the terrier gamely pulling the curtain was the conservative media, including talk radio, websites, magazines and a few editorial pages.
Now, the curtain is nearly open, with President Obama himself pulling the cord. Facing an almost certain king-sized rebuke tomorrow, he has abandoned any pretense of the moderation that fooled so many in 2008.
Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Judge for yourself whether these recent statements meet the haughtiness test:
In Boston on Oct. 16, Mr. Obama said, “People out there are still hurting very badly, and they are still scared. And so part of the reason that our politics seems so tough right now, and facts and science and argument does not seem to be winning the day all the time, is because we’re hard-wired not to always think clearly when we’re scared.”
If he keeps this up, he might get real good at talking down to us, especially those of us “clinging” to our guns and religion.
Speaking on the Spanish-language TV network Univision on Oct. 25, Mr. Obama urged viewers to “punish our enemies.”
On Oct. 23, he warned Republicans not to get in his way. Speaking at the University of Minnesota, he blamed the GOP for driving the nation’s “car” into a ditch:
And all the time the Republicans have been standing on the sidelines. They’ve been looking down, fanning themselves, sipping on a Slurpee [read: mint julep], kicking dirt down into the ditch, kicking dirt in our faces. But we kept pushing. … And now we get the Republicans tapping us on the shoulder, saying, ‘We want the keys back.’ You can’t have the keys back – you don’t know how to drive. You can ride with us if you want, but you’ve got to sit in the back seat.
Not everyone thinks the car is being fixed, however. The Associated Press reports that Mr. Obama’s approval rating even among college students is 44 percent, down from 60 percent a year ago.
When he’s not demonizing the opposition, Mr. Obama is working on his imperious image. His trip to India on Nov. 6 should finish that job. His entourage will spend enough to bankrupt a small nation, which might be a nice change from his bankrupting our large nation. Wait – it’s all our money.
“[T]he president’s team has booked the entire Taj Mahal Hotel, including 570 rooms, all banquets and restaurants,” the Economic Times reports. “. . . 125 rooms at the Taj President have also been booked, apart from 80 to 90 rooms each in Grand Hyatt and the Oberoi hotels.”
Add to that Air Force One, two more jumbo jets, security jets, 45 cars and several U.S. Navy vessels, and the cost of this vacation, oops, state visit, will soar into the tens of millions. For a president who says he’s looking out for the little guy, it must be hard to see him from those mighty heights.
In a wonderful new book by the late constitutional attorney John Armor, These Are the Times That Try Men’s Souls, Thomas Paine’s works are uniquely arranged by topic with Mr. Armor’s commentaries in the margin. In the “On Tyranny” section, Mr. Armor notes that Paine was well ahead of The Wizard of Oz in skewering executive privilege. Writing in free verse, Paine targeted King George III. But listen to his words while imagining the Obama junket:
“What is called monarchy, always appears to me
A Silly, contemptible thing. I compare it to something
Kept behind a curtain, about which there is a great deal of bustle and fuss, and a wonderful air of seeming solemnity;
But when, by any accident, the curtain happens
To be open – and the company see what it is,
They burst into laughter.”
If only it were that funny. Paine, who first used the term “the United States of America,” could not abide tyrants of any kind, no matter how they came to power. He warned, too, about the possibility of an imperial Congress.
If Paine had been asked what he thought of Nancy Pelosi and company tucking into Obamacare a provision forbidding future Congresses from overturning portions of the law, he might have responded with a quote from his essay The Rights of Man: “The vanity and presumption of governing beyond the grave is the most ridiculous and insolent of all tyrannies.”
Unless tomorrow’s election begins a serious rollback, our grandchildren will be paying for Mr. Obama’s and Mrs. Pelosi’s extravagant spending well beyond the grave. And it could be curtains for our self-governing republic.