By Mr. Curmudgeon
Last January, Andrew Bynum – a center for the L.A. Lakers – was reminiscing about former teammate Kwame Brown. “He’s a grown man now,” Bynum said of Brown to the Los Angeles Times, “He’s grown into his body well. He’s a lot more physical than when he first came in. That was my young fella, I taught him everything he knows.” The Times’ sports writer generously described Bynum’s remarks as pure “fantasy.”
It’s a natural tendency among those who feel inadequate to claim some credit for the success of others. President Obama has transformed this small psychological character flaw into a major campaign theme.
“If you were successful,” said Obama in a speech delivered in Roanoke, Virginia, “somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.”
The crowd of inadequate, self-loathing underachievers applauded the president’s drivel with great enthusiasm.
The government, Obama insists, taught us everything we know; not only that, we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the Internet’s inventor, Al Gore.
This, of course, is silly nonsense, but brilliant. Brilliant in the sense that it points to Obama’s deep understanding that to succeed in politics, a politician must appeal (pander) to the greatest number of voters. The greatest number of voters is the middle class. Most welfare programs (entitlements) are aimed not at the poor but the middle class – big government’s chief constituent.
When America’s second great economic depression began with the collapse of the housing market and the banks in 2008, the destruction of middle class jobs that followed highlighted the vulnerability of the U.S. entitlement state. With a diminished tax base, government, at all levels, began to feel the pinch. Many of President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid’s 2009 stimulus dollars were spent to keep Blue State government employees on the public dole.
Diminished tax revenues also required the U.S. government to borrow at levels never before seen in human history – all to sustain our unsustainable entitlement state.
For many Americans, envy has yet to take on the luster it holds in the darker corners of our world’s more primitive societies … like the nanny states that make up the European Union.
So the president has taken a different tact: He will try to convince Americans that success has many fathers, while failure is an orphan. He is not demanding the overthrow of free enterprise by a thieving dictatorship of the proletariat. Instead, Obama merely suggests that since we are all members on the boards of directors of every successful company in America, we should demand that our executive compensation be rolled over into, what else, government.
Republican politicians have no answer to this. Not even the former Chief Executive Officer of Bain Capital, Mitt Romney. That’s because the GOP thinks all the above falls under the rubric of politics – a debate pitting the capitalist system against redistributive socialism, the haves against the have-nots, the left against the right.
The darker reality is that the battle of the 2012 election cycle is not political but psychological. Like Isaac Newton, Obama insists that success is achieved “by standing on the shoulders of giants.” The giants in this instance are the entitlement-dependant middle class.
“Anything that won't sell, I don't want to invent,” said Thomas Edison, “Its sale is proof of utility, and utility is success.”
Taking Obama’s “logic” to its twisted conclusion, Edison’s light bulb would never have achieved success without the Brooklyn Bridge. That shining example of public infrastructure allowed the Edison Electric Light Company to transport their tiny glass orbs of illumination to market, eventually lighting the world.
Obama says we should dismiss Edison’s claim that “worth consists in what you are and not in what you have.” The old inventor’s statement speaks to the individual character of a people – the true measure of a nation’s wealth.
Obama cynically sees America as a collection of soulless and brainless rubes. And he has a bridge in Brooklyn he’d like to sell you.