Obama Chameleon

President Barack Obama continues to blow in the wind, saying whatever his particular audience wants to hear, in defiance of the facts of reality (which he evades) or the dictates of his principles (if he has any).

At an economic summit on fiscal responsibility at the White House yesterday, the man who has presided over an unfathomably quick growth of the deficit, said to his bi-partisan audience:
“I want to be very clear,” Obama said in opening the session in the White House State Dining Room. “We cannot and will not sustain deficits like these without end. Contrary to the prevailing wisdom in Washington these past few years, we cannot simply spend as we please and defer the consequences to the next budget, the next administration and the next generation.”
The irony of this statement wasn't lost on others, including Sen. Orrin Hatch (from Politico.com):
"It is ironic that the president is holding a summit on fiscal responsibility less than a week after instigating and signing a massive, wasteful stimulus bill,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) told Politico. “Convening groups to talk about deficits and holding a photo-op isn't going to pay off our debts -- we should be focusing on reducing our estimated $1.2 trillion deficit by reforming entitlement programs and reducing wasteful government spending…That would be something all Americans could support, not just the limited group admitted to attend his summit today."
I listened to some of what Obama said at the meeting, as it was presented this morning on NPR, and he was folksy, amiable, and well-spoken. At one point, in reference to government procurement and fiscal responsibility in government, John McCain attacked the plans for a new high-tech fleet of Presidential helicopters. Obama played the stand-up comedian, cracked some jokes, and then agreed with McCain. I was left with the distinct impression that Obama has a near total lack of any of his own ideas and simply reflects what he thinks the crowd wants to hear. And also that the White House summit was sublime political theater without any substance.

Obama is a chameleon. When pushing for trillions of dollars of aid to nationalize the banks, the situation is too dire to worry about the deficit. When he is talking to congressmen about fiscal restraint, he talks the talk about halving the deficit and blames the Bush administration for the inherited problems. The press pretends not to notice the sleight of hand and blithely reports that people are "hopeful."


Burgess Laughlin said...

I don't yet have exactly the right formula, but your post has helped me pull together a few pieces of the puzzle I have been thinking about.

This morning, I was rereading Ayn Rand's "The New Fascism: Rule by Consensus" (in her anthology, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal).

Consensus is an agreement reached by diverse individuals who are willing to abandon their principles in order to achieve unanimity on an issue.

A second-hander is someone who lets others make judgments for him.

Pragmatism is the belief (-ism) that principles are either impossible or unimportant, and what is important is taking action in society--which often means "Go along to get along" (or vice versa). That means being willing to change to fit a social reality that is in flux always.

All these work together. A first-hander, the individual of independent judgment, decides for himself what his principles are and stands by them. A first-hander is principled. A first-hander, therefore, can never be an element of a consensus. First-handers must be "marginalized," that is, put outside the consensus. That is where advocates of a philosophy of reason--which requires independent judgment and absolute adherence to principle--are.

The puzzle picture is beginning to take shape.

C. August said...

That sounds interesting, and I look forward to reading more about what you're working on.

But I have a question about your definition of consensus. Is the abandonment of principles necessary to the definition? The dictionary definition simply says "general or widespread agreement" which is fairy innocuous.

You said that "A first-hander is principled. A first-hander, therefore, can never be an element of a consensus." Is there an unwritten addendum that adds "... unless it fits with his principles"?