Monday, March 8, 2010

A Line in the Stone

On Friday the Chronicle joined the chorus echoing Obama in calling for a vote on health care reform:
President Barack Obama has drawn a line in the sand on health care reform. It's an utterly necessary one, we would contend. Obama has said the American people deserve a vote in Congress, up or down, on health care reform.
While the Chronicle makes it clear that it wants an up vote, the editorial also makes it clear that its position isn't a matter of principle. Up or down doesn't really matter, just give us a vote. In other words, whether doctors are enslaved and the rest of us loose the little freedom we have in the realm of health care is irrelevant--just end this debate. Equally irrelevant is the opinion of the American public, which is opposed to the proposals now on the table.

In drawing his line in the sand, Obama said that he didn't know how health care reform would play out politically, but it was the right thing to do. Is he really this divorced from reality, or is he just posturing? Or, is he so hungry for power that easily perceivable facts escape him? The public's response to the Democrat's proposals was unequivocally clear in last summer's town hall meetings; the election of Scott Brown reinforced that message. If Obama doesn't know how this is going to play out politically--when he has already seen how it will play out--then we can only conclude that he sees no connection between the past and the future.

If one rejects principles, as both Obama and the Chronicle have done as a matter of principle, what happened yesterday has no bearing on what will happen tomorrow. If one rejects principles, the election of Scott Brown provides no clue what will happen in November, let alone next week.

While the election of Brown is certainly no guarantee that the Democrats will take a beating in November, it takes a serious separation from reality to feign ignorance of the political implications of drawing a line in the sand.

Unfortunately, sand is easily shifted, and so is the line drawn in it. Obama has already made "concessions" to win Republican support, and given the spinelessness of most Republicans--who generally accept the same unprincipled Pragmatism as Obama--America could be sold down the river for a few cheap trinkets. Or, political favors for some holdout Congressman.

Further, Leftists drew the line decades ago when they first called for universal health care. They have continued to move the line in that direction ever since, and Republicans have largely acquiesced. Republicans have accepted the premise of government control of health care and weakly complained that a particular proposal goes "too far". And so the line keeps shifting.

If Republicans held firm principles they would declare that individual freedom is not negotiable or subject to the fleeting passions of the moment. If Republicans had a backbone a new line would be drawn--a line carved in stone.


Steve D said...


What I think is that Obama is not a pragmatist but hard left socialist true believer. I am not even sure he is hungry for personal power and might well sacrifice it for the chance to force his system on America. When he says he thinks it is the right thing to do he may well be telling the truth. That is what he believes. Of course he knows how this will play our politically and it seems he may well be willing to pay that price. His ‘pragmatism’ may be a cover so as not to scare his allies who are truly pragmatist.

While I am not quite sure I can accurately peer into Obama’s soul this would explain why he is so recklessly pushing his agenda. In this case you might actually be able to attribute principles to Obama, just the not the right ones.

Brian Phillips said...

I understand your point about Obama and certainly think that there is evidence to support it. However, I also see abundant evidence of Pragmatism.

I have not read any of his books, but a friend has and provided me with numerous quotes. They are all over the place philosophically. Obama embraces the central tenets of Pragmatism: 1) a short-range perspective, 2) the inability (or refusal) to think in principle, 3) the denial of definite identity, 4) and the refusal to rule out possibilities.

Yes, Obama is pushing a socialist agenda. But why? Why can't he see the abundant evidence of the failures of socialism? I contend that the reason is Pragmatism.

Steve D said...

"Why can't he see the abundant evidence of the failures of socialism?"

Perhaps he doesn't consider it as failure. If socialism is an end in itself for him then getting it enacted by whatever means necessary is success. Whether it works or not would be relevant.

I don't claim to be able to see into his mind and like you I haven't read his books. Certainly there is a level of pragmatism in his actions. There is something strange in his persistence though, especially on the health care issue. Most regular pragmatic politicians would have given up by now. He seems to be obsessed with it. If it's pragmatism it's not the ordinary type exemplified by Bush or Clinton.

Talk about short term, pragmatic thinking - this seems like a good example. Or is it just simple stupidity?

Brian Phillips said...

You certainly raise valid points. Via HBL I learned of an article by Mark Steyn that seems to explain Obama's persistence.

Your link of fishing is an interesting coincidence. I happen to know that The Objective Standard will be running an article in the next issue that addresses the moral and practical reasons why waterways and fisheries should be private property.

Steve D said...

“Is it worth reducing the next generation of Americans to indentured servitude to pay for this poor New Yorker's dentured servitude?

Yes. Because government health care is not about health care, it's about government.”

This is a very interesting article. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I might even go one step further and say that for most the democrats in Congress it may be about government. If I am right then for Obama and those like him, the indentured servitude is the whole point.

Brian Phillips said...

I think indentured servitude is too tame. It implies a voluntary, contractual agreement. There is nothing voluntary about nationalizing health case-- it is pure slavery.