Category Archives: Obama

The State of the Change We Believe In

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“Change has not come fast enough,” President Obama just said.

Of course, it is assumed that this necessitates more action, not less – more spending, not less – more legislation, not less.  And of course the President is now calling for getting past our partisanship, now that his party can’t railroad things through the Senate.  And it seems no government official, liberal or “conservative,” never asks if our needs – the change we are so desperate for – can or should come from government power.

A fee for the big banks?  Ah, there’s the rub.  If the government is nice enough to rescue you, it is nice enough to impose extra penalties on you for success.  Who says we have a free market?

“We cut taxes…we cut taxes…”  Where will those tax cuts go when nationalized health care goes through?

Well, the Commander-in-Chief of hopey-change – or changey-hope, has his work cut out for him.  Just like the House chamber tonight, only about half of us are applauding…and that number is shrinking.

P.S. Did Uncle Joe and Nancy Pelosi coordinate their purple attire? Perhaps they feel they are in the presence of royalty.  But with court jesters like that, who needs good ideas?

P.P.S. Job growth will occur when the government steps back, not when it decides to legislate it.  Small business owners, like my parents, are by and large too smart to fall for strategies from leftists who truly do not appreciate the entrepreneurial spirit.  The entrepreneurs are the ones bearing the tax burden to create the “change” for which these people yearn.

P.P.S. “They need our help.” Yes.  But you will help the most by stepping away.

P.P.P.S.  Nuclear power plants?  I like it!  Did Al Gore just die inside?

Scott Brown and (slow) change we can believe in…

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The election of Scott Brown to the late Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat is being seen, and I believe rightly so, as at least a partial referendum on President Obama’s first year.  Obama and his PR machine have chalked up the recent setback – and dwindling approval ratings – to not getting the message across. For a President that is more media-savvy and media-beloved than any in recent memory, this seems ludicrous.  President Obama’s problem is not that people don’t *get* the message – but rather, precisely the opposite.  (How could we not get the message with THIS LEVEL of media exposure??)

Obama was elected on the promise of “hope” in some degree of “change” that he would bring to the White House.  He rode a wave of (especially) youth support to a victory (not a landslide, though) over John McCain.  The Republicans, in my view, rightly paid for many years of not living up to their own beliefs with George W. Bush, especially in fiscal matters – and of course, W’s woeful public persona.  Personally, I liked the man and still do, but his public attributes fit Texas much more than the international scene.

And so, Obama was elected to get us back “on course.”  “The world” was so happy that Americans agreed with them on the Presidency of George W. Bush, that they hurried to give Obama unearned accolades (the dynamite-prize for peace, in particular).  What change would come?

Hard to tell, so far.  The radical, anti-war left has been unhappy with his ratcheting up of the war in Afghanistan.  Many of the young supporters that were so hyped up during the campaign have retreated to their dorm rooms, back to listening to their iPods and watching ghastly excuses for entertainment like ‘Jersey Shore’.  And an attempt at hurrying through sweeping legistation that would dramatically (and permanently!) alter the entire American health care sector has gone, by any measure, less than smoothly.

And now, with Scott Brown’s election, there is chance that it may not work at all.  Why the turnabout?  I think this change in our medical system is, for better or worse, inevitable.  But I fervently believe that the Obama administration has attempted too much, too fast (not unlike W trying to get Social Security “fixed” immediately after his reelection).  Winning roughly 60% of voters to your cause does not give you the mandate, whoever you are, to rush through such major changes.

Obama’s election has woken up a sleeping Right.  Conservatives, unfortunately, tend to criticize better than they govern.  Yes, there are extremes, and they are sometimes deplorable (on both sides).  I believe, though, that we are seeing that Americans are, as is often said, a center-right country.  Being by and large moderately conservative, though, does not mean we are opposed to all change.  Conservatives seek to do precisely that – conserve – not cement.  We believe that a government does its best work when it goes slow.  Incidentally, this is why the Constitution was set up with so many checks and balances, and such flexibility.  Ours is a great system because it is highly adaptable but not in short periods of time.  So, President Obama, perhaps we want your change. It is hard to tell at the moment.  But you can be sure of this: we are in no hurry.  If your program is indeed what’s best for us, take your time with it.  I am not one of your supporters, but I hope that those who are will insist on this: take it slow.

A historical aside:

Why do conservatives prefer slow change? Quite frankly, because we generally trust what is, what is known, what has been practiced and found true, more than what might be preferable around the corner.  Edmund Burke, writing just as the French Revolution was entering its darkest days, wrote the following:

…we think that no discoveries are to be made, in morality; nor many in the great principles of government, nor in the ideas of liberty, which were understood long before we were born, altogether as well as they will be after the grave has heaped its mould upon our presumption, and the silent tomb shall have imposed its law on our pert loquacity.

The Ekklesia Project on Obama’s Nobel Speech

A little late, but if you haven’t seen Ekklesia’s response to Obama’s speech it is worth a gander.  Nothing too shocking here, of course.  Keep the church and the world separate, in every practical sense.  Obama isn’t explicitly Christian enough…yada yada yada.  Oddly, though, for all the ekklesiastical (hehe) outrage that the pacifist camp has at his (however timid) invocation of the Just War tradition, no one seems bothered by the fact that pacifist grand-poobah Stanley Hauerwas himself voted for Obama.  (A fact I have on good authority from someone who was in a classroom where Dr. Hauerwas admitted it).

Check out the Ekklesia Project’s page here.  My response to Hauerwas’ article with follow shortly.

Kanye: A symptom, not a disease

The outrage over Kanye’s recent antics at the MTV movie awards are largely an exercise in missing the point: the problem is not Kanye, the problem is us.  We; you; me; us; our kids; our brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews…we all allow people of Kanye’s caliber to amass millions of dollars and have a profound impact on the lives of our young people.

Contra the President, who self-reverently called us “the ones we have been waiting for,” we should be pointing the fingers at ourselves.  This is simply further evidence of a sick culture.  Many artists have problems, but traditionally even artists with problems can show a modicum of class.

Sadly, Christians are a part of all this.  Our kids buy these albums.  I’ve danced to him.  All further evidence that we are entrenched in a world of sin that we cannot extricate ourselves from entirely.  That is why the “Armor of God” is a daily excercise in humility and vigilance.  We must remember who we are – and whose we are – every day.  When we forget, we allow ourselves to fall victim to the most base aspects of our existence.  Our art, and our artists, are merely a reflection of this.

Scruton on the Health Care Debate

I’ve found myself disappointed by American Christians in the current health-care debate.  As happens all too often, we seem to be thinking and arguing about this important issue more as Americans than as Christians.  That is, I have seen very little Christian thought on this that does not fall fairly neatly into contemporary political categories of Left and Right.  Christians on the Left – Jim Wallis and his crew come to mind – simply assume that in Obama ‘s (a secular savior if there ever was one) America, “We are the change we have been waiting for.”  Major health care reform a-la-Europe is simply assumed, rather uncritically.

Christians on the Right, rather than resorting to theological arguments, join the Glenn Beck wagon and decry “big government intrusion” but with no more theological acumen or reflection than the Christian left.

Certainly the Bible envisions Israel, and later the Church, as a community in which all God’s children are nurtured and loved.  But this does not necessarily translate into a nation-state (America) hastily approving health care we cannot afford simply because the other white people in the world think it is a good idea.  Surely a more “Gospel” response would be for churches and parachurch organizations to offer clinics and free hospitals.  This is more defensible in a Christian grammar than a government policy mandated from above.  Christians ought to fight against the modernist tendency to push our morality onto our structures and off of our own shoulders.

I read an interview with Roger Scruton which I believe has a great quote that has some bearing on this debate, in which the Left is characteristically viewed as those who “care about people” while the Right is fully of “greedy white men” run by “the corporations.”  He bursts this false dichotomy on the rock of his own wit.

Does the Left have a monopoly on all the good intentions? Scruton says, “So what?”:

The fact is if you really want to think in terms of good intentions, Lenin and Hitler and Mao had thousands of them. But of what relevance are intentions? Intentions imposed in this belligerent and self-righteous way on the rest of us are actually deeply offensive, I think. It’s true that liberals find liberals to be very nice and conservatives very nasty. But that’s part of the narrow-mindedness of liberals. Conservatives in my experience are much more able to find moral value in liberals than liberals are in conservatives, because liberals, while believing themselves to be the most open-minded of people, are unable to see conservatism, or any opposition, as anything more than a moral failing.

I use this because Christians, too, have fallen into this American dichotomy of nice vs. nasty in matters political.  The truth is, Christians on either side of the present debate may have good or ill intentions and may or may not actually give a damn about people.  We all need to remember what we worship a God who reminds us, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, and my ways are not your ways.” This is an especially important reminder at a time when we are all too quick to confuse secular political policy with what Wallis and his cronies quite terribly call ‘God’s Politics’.

What hath the Pope to do with the President?

I came across this naughty little quote while reading the most recent edition of Ratzinger/Benedict XVI’s Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life:

People still have hopes for the historical process, but these impulses, now strangers to faith, have been transformed into a secular faith in progress.

This reminds me of the quasi-religious character with which President Obama’s campaign and current reign have been met.  Certainly the fervor and the frenzy surrounding Obama, especially by a 20-something generation normally marked by apathy, was something unique.  I think Ratzinger has hit the nail on the head here: in our modern Western search for meaning outside the Christian faith, we are looking for other outlets for our energy and our eschatological hope.

The liberal sentiment that Obama aroused is, of course, but a bastard child of Marxist faith in human progress (which is, as he points out, an attempt at eschatology without God).  It makes me question, though, whether we are so “postmodern” as our intellectuals seem to think.  The kind of secularized (read: vacuous) faith that Obama has roused can only lead one to believe that the project of modernity is alive and well.  As Mark Twain said upon reading his own obituary, “Reports of my death are greatly exagerrated.”