In January 2013, three interconnected domestic problems dominate the United States. They are (1) the national debt; (2) the rate of economic growth; and (3) the level of unemployment. These issues must be addressed without impacting adversely on the rate of price inflation. Any president able to nudge the economy in good directions on each of these issues would deserve high ranking in the presidential hall of fame.
Unfortunately, these are not the issues on which President Obama has chosen to focus during his second term, at least from the perspective of his inauguration address.The evidence is as follows:
President Obama’s address was 2,108 words in length. Of these he expended 45 words in three sentences on the economy, 19 words in one sentence on the deficit, and 155 words in six sentences indicating that entitlements would not be cut.
In contrast, Obama expended 160 words in six sentences on climate change, and 358 words in ten sentences on equal pay for women, access to gay marriage, the repeal of laws requiring photo-identification to vote, immigration reform, and gun control.
The remainder of his address demonstrated a fundamental lack of understanding of the 1776 Declaration of Independence. Had he read Thomas Jefferson’s masterpiece with the faintest level of comprehension, he would have understood that the principal concern of the revolutionaries was to protect individual colonists from oppressive government, not to use the coercive power of government to force programs favored by some transient majority upon the people at large. Similarly the Bill of Rights is almost exclusively directed to the same goal, protecting the individual from the state. The only interventionist item in that Bill is to guarantee the individual the right to trial by jury – and that again is a right designed to protect individuals against the state.
So when Obama talks about the need for collective action, as a reinterpretation of the Founders’ vision, in fact he pits himself directly against those Founders’ predilections and great wisdom.
By now all of us have the measure of Barack Obama. And I think that I can fairly state that Barack Obama is no Thomas Jefferson and no James Madison. Thoughtful Americans should compare the words of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights against those of Obama’s second Inaugural. I have no doubt which they will find the more convincing.