Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Good, not Great

Judis rightly agrees with our NLT experts that the president’s speech was a hodgepodge of abstract assertions and very short on real arguments. It was also fairly lame as poetry. But I have to add it praised American inventiveness and imagination, hard work, and the old and true virtues, including loyalty, patriotism, and responsiblity. It was Lincolnian in its claim that we have erred by straying from the genuine idealism of our Founding. And there’s nothing wrong in repeating that our nation is devoted to equality, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and greatness that’s earned. These principles and these virtues have been at the foundation of the common, multi- or transcultural purposes that have animated the better part of our history. The speech was also largely free of the vices associated with progressivism and paternalism. When it referred to progress, it wasn’t about bigger and bigger government, but about the flourishing of free men and women--and so about the overcoming of slavery, segregration, and so forth. It was a good, not great, speech, but a worthy enough performance for our first black president.

Discussions - 1 Comment

There is alot to the good of Obama being able to reconnect American liberalism with an enthusiastic and unforced (but not blind) patriotism. It makes liberalism politically stronger but also better and I'll take it. But I'm not sure people are hearing Obama right in his calls for "responsibility". Sure he talks about parents doing a better job of taking care of their kids, but I read it as a call for increased statism in the name of responsibility. One specific case: Obama mentioned (directly or indirectly) global warming at least as prominently as he did our two wars. Any takers on whether "responsibility" is going to mean an environmental and energy policy that is very expensive and intrusive? All in the name of responsibility mind you. I look for similar performances on entitlements (higher payroll taxes to rather than reform entitlements) and healthcare. And if things don't work out, thats okay because these are the consequences of "tough choices", so stop complaining. I hope that I am hearing Obama wrong but I doubt it.

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