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Obama’s North Star

This is the problem with Obama and the ideology of leftism.  Yesterday Obama gave what I think is probably the most defensive and combative presidential press conference of all time.  Here it is if you would like to watch the whole thing but allow me to cut through some of the fluff and highlight the key points.  He begins with this head scratcher.

This isn’t the politics of the moment, this has to do with what can we get done right now.

This actually made me laugh when he first said it until I heard him talk about medicare and social security.

So this notion that somehow we are willing to compromise too much reminds me of the debate that we had during health care. This is the public option debate all over again. So I pass a signature piece of legislation where we finally get health care for all Americans, something that Democrats had been fighting for for a hundred years, but because there was a provision in there that they didn’t get that would have affected maybe a couple of million people, even though we got health insurance for 30 million people and the potential for lower premiums for 100 million people, that somehow that was a sign of weakness and compromise.

Now, if that’s the standard by which we are measuring success or core principles, then let’s face it, we will never get anything done. People will have the satisfaction of having a purist position and no victories for the American people. And we will be able to feel good about ourselves and sanctimonious about how pure our intentions are and how tough we are, and in the meantime, the American people are still seeing themselves not able to get health insurance because of preexisting conditions or not being able to pay their bills because their unemployment insurance ran out.

That can’t be the measure of how we think about our public service. That can’t be the measure of what it means to be a Democrat. This is a big, diverse country. Not everybody agrees with us. I know that shocks people. The New York Times editorial page does not permeate across all of America. Neither does The Wall Street Journal editorial page. Most Americans, they’re just trying to figure out how to go about their lives and how can we make sure that our elected officials are looking out for us. And that means because it’s a big, diverse country and people have a lot of complicated positions, it means that in order to get stuff done, we’re going to compromise. This is why FDR, when he started Social Security, it only affected widows and orphans. You did not qualify. And yet now it is something that really helps a lot of people. When Medicare was started, it was a small program. It grew.

Under the criteria that you just set out, each of those were betrayals of some abstract ideal. This country was founded on compromise. I couldn’t go through the front door at this country’s founding. And if we were really thinking about ideal positions, we wouldn’t have a union.

See this is what they mean by “progressive.”  They are going to gradually compromise us to where they want us to go.  This will keep us from considering what is really down that road.  They just want us to think one step at a time.  And they will make each step as small as they have to in order to get us to go along.  This is an encoded message to the left, it says “look I know you guys want to go faster but you have to understand that this is how we get things done, progressively, and this is as fast as we can go right now.”  It’s not the politics of the moment it’s the politics that the moment require to move us in what he thinks is the proper long-term direction.  And then comes the most important part.  The part where he lays out the moral code which is required if one is going to be led down this path.

So my job is to make sure that we have a North Star out there. What is helping the American people live out their lives? What is giving them more opportunity? What is growing the economy? What is making us more competitive? And at any given juncture, there are going to be times where my preferred option, what I am absolutely positive is right, I can’t get done.

And so then my question is, does it make sense for me to tack a little bit this way or tack a little bit that way, because I’m keeping my eye on the long term and the long fight — not my day-to-day news cycle, but where am I going over the long term?

See Obama has four north stars (and how many more do you think he could come up with if you asked that question again in a couple weeks?).  And what is much more important than the multitude is the fact that these north stars are always moving around.  “What is helping the American people live out their lives?”  What does that mean?  That could be anything.  Whatever you want to do, you can claim that it is helping the people live out their lives.  It doesn’t actually guide you, it’s just a thing to say to make people think you are going somewhere that they want to go.  Imagine the following conversation between a sea-captain and his passenger.

Passenger: It’s so empty out here, how can you possibly tell where you are going?

Captain: Well you see I just use the four north stars.

Passenger: Four north stars?

Captain: Yeah they always point north, so I can use them to tell direction.

Passenger: Where are they?

Captain: Well one of them is over there sometimes and sometimes it’s over there….and other times it’s that way.  The other one is usually in that direction, except occasionally when it’s over there…..

There are only two possibilities: either this captain has no idea where he is going and he’s just making something up to convince you that he does, or else he does know where he is going and he doesn’t want you to know so he’s making something up that you couldn’t possibly use to figure it out.  Which one do you think we’re dealing with here?

Finally, to address his comments about the founding of the Union, first of all nobody was allowed through the front door, it was locked down tight.  But I get it, the founders were racists and we are a flawed nation that must be fixed progressively through the wise leadership of an enlightened elite who have to trick us into doing what history will eventually confirm is the right thing.  Let’s just get one thing straight though.  The country was founded on compromise, but it wasn’t compromise about values, it was compromise about the best system to further those values.  Every founder (for the most part at least) was led by the same north star.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The disputes among the founders were over the principles and powers that were most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness, they were not compromises over which parts of your life the government should be able to control and/or sacrifice for the good of someone else and which parts they should not.  This question was ruled out by the common values that they agreed upon.  Their north star was individual liberty.  This star is always in the same place, it’s not moving around.  This star doesn’t lead you to compromise.  It might lead you to somewhere you wish you didn’t have to go sometimes, but it’s always clear where it leads.  That is, at least, if you know how to find it.

Now we compromise on values, and not surprisingly, this has taken us to a place where we have no values.  We are a boat on the open ocean and the captain is telling us “we need to go that way it’s much better over there” and we have no idea where he is taking us because we have lost our north star.    I suggest we brush up on our navigation America.

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