“We’ve got to reform government so that it’s leaner and smarter for the 21st century”
The Wall Street Journal, iPad Edition
After the bi-partisan poll-bumping January 12th prime-time eulogy for the massacred from University of Arizona in Tucson, the President of the United States (POTUS) is ready to go prime once again on January 25th for the State of the Union and this time in another collegial setting: the United States House of Representatives, seeking the same civility and unity that he had asked for in Tucson. If the subtext of his 01/12 speech was about social instability at a time of economic distress, his 01/25 speech will be about coopting the language of government reform, a trend that began with former president Bill Clinton, to achieve the undoing of Ronald Reagan aided by a bevy of Clinton loyalists, packed on all government reform committees in Washington, who know how to balance the budget by creating a wealth effect (this time around the world, including in India and China) and through off-balance sheet Treasury accounting (reminiscent of Enron) of the looming social security obligations rather than make the government leaner and smarter. The more populous America of 2050 would be a mixed economy similar to India, China and the European Union.
President Obama appears to be looking at the glass one-eighth-full as he expertly gazes into the camera, better than experienced news readers, almost personally connecting with his viewers who are all his Democrat organizers of Obama for America, according to a WSJ video for its iPad edition: the economy, he says, has created 1 million jobs since he took over in 2009 because of the vision of his grassroots organizers (the expectation in 2009 was 3 million). The reality is that the country needs to create 8 million jobs. The top sevenths of the water in the glass has evaporated and his economic advisers have no idea when that drought will end nor the out-of-the-box policy honesty to end it. But the 2010 “shellacked” optimist is positioning himself to become the comeback kid in November 2012 claiming the punch line of government reform and the handicap that goes with the incumbent in the horse race of national politics.
The prologue to the presidential address at the annual ritual of the State of the Union always ends with the nation’s chief executive concluding that it is strong. Bias for the self comes with the territory of executive politics before self-reflection sets in. President Obama has some major accomplishments to take credit for without a doubt: the Lilly Ledbetter Law of equal pay for equal work for women, overturning “don’t ask, don’t tell” in the Pentagon, passing universal health care even though keeping it still takes some work because the rising costs of health care are a continuing cause of concern, and encouraging commercial space. He expects to present to the people an agenda to restore national competitiveness in this year’s address though it is unlikely that he will say anything about a more robust economic recovery. The financial regulatory reform law still leaves much to be desired.
This president, the first colored man elected to the White House, who had ridden into Washington on the horse of high expectations, symbolically claiming the mantle of his more illustrious predecessors George Washington and Abraham Lincoln who had both liberated slaves, has demonstrated an astute political sense rooted in his ideological beliefs of the politics of the left and an opportunism for policy to follow that politics. Great presidents, however, have had their politics follow policies, for after all the purpose of politics is to deliver solutions that work toward the founding vision for the country, 18th or the 21st century. Without them Obama, a black man by choice, would not be in the White House.
Though his parents had transcended the barriers of lily white European middle America of Kansas and the charcoal black middle Africa of Kenya in the now quaintly unjust America of the days of miscegenation laws to bear the black-and-white Barack Obama, the president has not transcended that view of America in his mainstream yankee politics of equal opportunity. To him equal opportunity, in a country founded on the premise and vision of individual rights and social equality whatever the accident of birth, comes in quotas determined by social choice rooted in the country’s history, for without it, he would never have made it to the White House.
President Obama sees the American mosaic of the 21st century through a deeply personal lens: a bias for his white mother’s side of the family that had raised him to be who he is and a simmering but subdued anger for the social injustices that have confronted him growing up as a colored man borne out of miscegenation. His political ideology is an outgrowth of a desire to change the society itself, whose reality he sees as unsurmountable concentration of white power over the coloreds such as himself not just in the United States but around the world, to be structurally just for the less powerful. That structural organization of the society, for him, is a Western European-type welfare state or Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society as white America concentrates wealth while diminishing in numbers to a monolithic minority by 2050. His political objective is to deliver for both sides: the minority whites who wish to retain control and the non-white 2050 majority who will aspire to an ever greater share of power and wealth. It can only happen through the mechanisms of social order of the Old World, only globalized in favor of the status quo. Therefore, America and Europe are at once resonating to this prospect. And who better to deliver it than a colored man?
President Obama is an old fashioned fading affirmative action baby boomer who got the votes of the non-affirmative action future generations to get elected. He is delivering for his generation, looking back, but not for future generations of Americans, looking forward, who will face a rapidly integrating world as a matter of destiny whether they like it or not. In such a world, American founding values transcend race, ethnicity and religion, their abstraction realized as a palpable reality through enlightened minds.
The State of the Union would be strong, because of him, for the foreseeable future in the 21st century, except that it will cease to be the United States of America founded in the 18th as a society of the future.