Thursday, 29 December 2011

Obama’s Great Legislative Accomplishments

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“I would put our legislative and foreign policy accomplishments in our first two years against any president — with the possible exceptions of Johnson, FDR, and Lincoln — just in terms of what we've gotten done in modern history.” So spake Barack Obama, in an interview with 60 Minutes earlier this month.

The news program left the above braggadocio out of its broadcast, a fact some attribute to media bias. According to my sources, however, the real story is that by that time Obama’s head had swelled to a point where it blocked out the camera.

Critics were quick to jump on this self-exaltation, pointing out that Obama not only ranked himself ahead of father of our nation George Washington, but, writes P.J. Gladnick at NewsBusters:

Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your Obama. That's because in his not so humble opinion, he ranks even higher than John F. Kennedy. Don’t feel so bad, President Kennedy. Obama also feels that his administration is better than that of Presidents Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan to name a few. 

All joking aside, we have to remember that Obama uses a different yardstick than the rest of us. In the statist way of thinking — actually, “feeling” might be a better descriptive — the President does rank highly.

This is because statists conflate presidential greatness with government growth. Just consider the presidents Obama cited as possible exceptions that may have surpassed his magnificence: Lyndon Johnson, Franklin Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Roosevelt possibly did more than any other president to undermine our Constitution, as he truly got the big-government ball rolling with his New Deal statism. Johnson took this ball and ran with it, doubling down with his unconstitutional Great Society programs. As for Lincoln, he seems out of place on this list. Yet he did help set the stage for federal-government expansion and the trampling of states’ powers by establishing that, regardless of how Uncle Sam oversteps his bounds aided and abetted by a complicit Supreme Court, the states have no recourse. For our nation would be like the Hotel California: States can check out any time they like, but they can never leave.

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In fairness, Lincoln would also figure prominently on Obama’s radar screen because he issued the Emancipation Proclamation and pushed the 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery. Yet it also occurs to me that Obama probably doesn’t know much about Presidents other than statist icons and the one, Lincoln, to whom he has often compared himself. This is, after all, the man who indicated that we have 58 states and that E pluribus Unum is our national motto.  

And are Obama’s accomplishments any better than his grasp of geography or history? As for his foreign policy credentials, it increasingly appears that the President is destabilizing the Middle East. He has helped author the euphemistically named “Arab Spring,” which is quickly tuning into an Islamic Winter that may see the rise of fundamentalist regimes in Egypt, Libya and perhaps elsewhere. So while he failed to support those protesting against the Islamic regime of Iran, he is apparently giving us the 1979 Iranian Revolution redux — on a massive scale.

But while statists generally wouldn’t identify this outcome with greatness, as I said earlier, Obama’s “legislative accomplishments” are a different story. Statists worship worldly power, and they so often respect a man who knows how to attain, increase and wield it. This was perhaps reflected, by the way, in a comment made by the Number 3 official in Obama’s State Department. Heaping praise on North Korean despot Kim Jong Il after a 2000 meeting, official Wendy Sherman said that he was “witty and humorous” and also stated, “He was smart and a quick problem-solver.” A quick problem-solver? I’ll bet.

If anyone gave Kim Jong Il a problem, he just killed him.

Of course, not every statist gives kudos to mass killers, yet love of lawmaking is all too common. I mean, we pay our legislators, so they should be legislating, right?

This mentality is evidenced in an oft-heard complaint: that about a “do-nothing Congress.” But people miss the point.

You want a do-nothing Congress.

In fact, you want a do-nothing President.

Or, to be precise, you want a President Do-little.

This is because, while some are fond of saying that our government should operate more like a business, in one respect it should be quite the opposite: its productivity should be as low as possible.

Think about it. When an auto company is more productive, you get more cars. When a farm is more productive, you get more food. When an electronics manufacturer is more productive, you get more TVs. But what do you get when government is more productive?

More laws, regulations, mandates and expensive social engineering.

And because a law, regulation or mandate is by definition the removal of a freedom — as it states that there is something you must or must not do — the more of them we have, the less free we are. And because the government continually “produces” more of these liberty-removers but hardly ever rescinds any, it means that every year the progressives make us progressively less free. Moreover, since this government productivity impedes commerce, it reduces private-sector productivity.

Which means you get fewer cars, less food and fewer TVs.

Yet this is Obama’s vision of greatness.

What would a truly great President do? He would roll back Washington, D.C. He would understand that “legislative accomplishments” should mean restoring freedom by eliminating legislation. Such a President would, for instance, seek to repeal federal hate-crime laws, as they’re unconstitutional efforts at thought control. He would eliminate bureaucracies such as the Department of Education, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration — and that’s just for starters. To put it simply, his affinity for law would begin and end with following the nation's supreme law: the Constitution.

This is why, whatever you think of Texas Governor Rick Perry, I like his idea of reducing the amount of time our politicians spend in Washington. Because the less “productive” our legislators are, the better off we are.  

“Legislative accomplishments” needs to become a dirty word.