Friday, February 13, 2009

President Obama Address To Lincoln Banquet.

Obama's admiration of Lincoln is blatantly obvious. And, as Lincoln said, there are some things which only government can do. That is the very point of government. I love the fact that Obama has the courage to repeat these arguments. The Republicans have for so long argued that, "government is the problem" that it has become a mantra.

No-one wants the government interfering in every aspect of our lives, but there are also things - abolition of slavery, eradication of disease - that only governments can properly do. As Obama points out here, the Republican mantra is simply a, "rejection of any common endeavor" and such a rejection, "cannot rebuild our levees or our roads or our bridges. It cannot refurbish our schools or modernise our medical system. It can't lead to the next medical discovery. Or yield the research and technology that will spark a clean energy economy. Only a nation can do those things."

He really is making the argument that Reaganism is dead. And, like Reagan, Obama is a brilliant communicator.


I wonder if Obama has read “The Man Who Sold the World”, the book on Reagan by Kleinknecht:

“By discrediting government as a legitimate and meaningful presence in the lives of Americans,” he writes in his final chapter, “The Second-Rate Society,” “Reagan repudiated the very concept of national leadership. By exhorting Americans to place self-interest above all, he undermined the spirit of sacrifice and the possibility of a common effort to solve our most pressing national problems.”
That's exactly the shortfall Obama is identifying in this Republican "big government is bad" philosophy. The only thing Obama is not doing is to directly state that he is repudiating Reaganism. That just hangs in the air, unspoken.

There's a great review of this book over at Truthdig:
In a fiery and lucid introduction he writes, “This book is born of annoyance: a great bewilderment over the myth that continues to surround the presidency of Ronald Reagan. It gives voice to a vast swath of psychically disenfranchised Americans, millions of them, lumped most thickly in the urban areas on either coast, who never understood Reagan’s appeal.” Kleinknecht’s thesis is nothing less than that Reagan was the “obvious enemy of the common people he claimed to represent, this empty suit who believed in flying saucers and allowed an astrologer to guide his presidential scheduling. ...” The great conundrum “is this: none of [the] unmistakable harbingers of American decline is being laid where it belongs—at the door of Ronald Reagan
I said when this economic crisis began that I thought we were witnessing the death of Reaganism. But the Republicans are finding it very hard, even after all that has happened, to adjust and find a new voice. That's why they continue to harp on about tax cuts and deregulation. It is literally all that they know.

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