Before we can tell whether someone is succeeding or failing, we first have to discover what he is trying to do. Whether he is the president or the guy next door, his real objective may be quite different from his stated objective.
● The “red line” President Obama drew in Syria seemed to be a warning to dictator Assad, intended to prevent Assad from again using chemical weapons on his own people. But when Assad went ahead and used poison gas, America did nothing.
To many, this seemed to be a failure – we failed to deter Assad from using chemical weapons. But what if the real purpose was to show the world that America is no longer exceptional? What if the real purpose was to demonstrate to the world that America is no longer the world policeman?
Japan has gotten the word: It no longer can rely on America for defense. So its government ordered its military to strike North Korean missile sites that threaten Japan. Do you really believe a resurgent Japanese military is a hopeful sign?
● When the Soviet Union broke up and Ukraine gained independence, the United States and the United Kingdom declared that if Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons, they would guarantee Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Russia agreed, and President Bill Clinton signed the memorandum. But now Russia has taken over Crimea, and is threatening to seize other parts of Ukraine as well. And our response has been rhetorical – threats of economic sanctions, but no effective sanctions, much less more vigorous actions.
To many, this seemed to be a failure – we failed to deter Putin from annexing territory by force. But what if the real purpose was to show Iran, China, North Korea, and other would-be aggressors that there is no longer a world policeman? What if the real purpose was to tell the world that America is withdrawing from the world stage, and henceforth will be preoccupied with internal problems? What if the real purpose was to tell Israel that it is on its own when Iran develops nuclear weapons? What if the real purpose was to tell Iran that it is free to implement the Final Solution to the Israel problem?
● When the “sequester” spending cuts took effect, Obama and the mainstream media blamed Republicans. In fact, it was the president’s idea, and he signed the bill. But instead of cutting nonessential spending, the government is cutting vital services like defense.
To many, this seemed like a failure – we failed to cut bloated spending in the least harmful manner. But what if the real purpose was to cut defense spending? The “sequester” allots 50% of the budget cuts to the military, though the military makes up only 18% of the federal budget. That is, the military will suffer over two and one-half times deeper cuts than would be “fair.” If the object were “fairness,” all departments would be cut the same percent. But what if the real purpose was to demonstrate to the world that we are serious about rendering ourselves incapable of intervening on the world stage?
● Government-run health care was touted by Obama as the way to give quality care to everyone, while financing it by eliminating “waste and abuse” in Medicare and Medicaid. But if these government-run programs are full of “waste and abuse,” why would an even bigger program be efficient? Why not eliminate the “waste and abuse” now, to prove he can do it, and then go on to the bigger program? Why not make Medicare and Medicaid self-supporting now, to prove he can do it, and then go on to the bigger program?
What, precisely, is this $500 billion in “waste and abuse”? Expensive medicines or operations for anyone over age 65? You may not consider this “waste and abuse,” but what if the bureaucrats in charge of ObamaCare do think of it that way? He who pays the piper calls the tune, and if the government pays the piper, the tune for older Americans may be “So Long, It’s Been Good To Know You.”
To many, ObamaCare, with its flawed website and patients denied coverage, seemed like a failure. But what if the real object is not health care for everyone, but control of everyone – and control of another 16% of the economy as well? If unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats can decide matters of life and death for us and our loved ones, in what sense are we citizens of a free republic, and not subjects of an intrusive, pervasive bureaucracy?
And what if ObamaCare does collapse? “Progressives” will say, “You see? We need single payer.” Then, far from failing, ObamaCare will succeed in placing the life-and-death decisions of all 317 million Americans in the hands of officials like Kathleen “Let the Girl Die” Sebelius – and their anonymous, unaccountable lackeys. Have a nice day.
● Airliners and schools were made “gun-free zones” at the insistence of anti-gun activists. But were airliners safer from hijacking? Ask the victims of 9/11. Were schools safer from mass shootings? Ask the victims of Columbine, Virginia Tech, or Sandy Hook. Yet the zealots remain zealous. Why?
Many pilots want to carry guns after appropriate training. Yet 12½ years after 9/11, obstacles are put in their way. Why? What else would have been as likely to prevent 9/11? Great Britain and Australia enacted virtual gun bans, but violent crime rates rose alarmingly. Yet the gun bans remain in force. Why? Studies show that where law-abiding citizens are allowed to carry guns, violent crime falls. Yet gun-control advocates strongly oppose this idea. Why?
To many, these anti-gun programs seem like failures. But what if the real purpose was not to make airliners, schools, and streets safer, but to make Americans defenseless against an overbearing government? What if the real purpose was to make Americans forget that they are independent individuals responsible to a just God, and think of themselves as obedient subjects of an almighty government?
Is President Obama succeeding? At what?
At warning potential aggressors that they will pay a price? No. At showing them America is a toothless tiger? Yes.
At strengthening America as a world power? No. At making us weaker, poorer, and less unified, so we cannot intervene effectively on the world stage? Yes.
At reassuring our friends and worrying our enemies? No. At worrying our friends and reassuring our enemies? Yes.
At making Medicare and Medicaid more efficient? No. At putting the government in charge of everyone’s life-and-death decisions? Yes.
At making streets safer? No. At disarming law-abiding Americans, so they are less able to defend themselves from criminals or tyrants? Yes.
At showing that America is still exceptional? No. At demonstrating that it no longer is? Yes.
In everyday life, when something doesn’t work, we try something else. But when government programs fail, which they often do, “progressives” demand more of them. More taxes. More “stimulus.” More government control of business. More government control of health care. More taxes. More government control of light bulbs, toilets, dishwashing detergent, and shower heads. More welfare programs. More taxes. Always “more.” But there is never an explanation of how much would be enough. Just “more.”
If on occasion one of these programs succeeds, well and good. But if the programs fail, as they often do, so much the better. Then the government can expand the programs still further – and seize control of even “more” of our lives. In that sense, government programs always succeed brilliantly – even when they actually fail.
Motives are often mixed or subconscious. Discerning someone’s motives is difficult at best. Is what we are seeing from President Obama and his “progressive” allies a series of well-intended blunders? Or is it what they want to accomplish? From a moral point of view, this is a key question. But from a practical point of view, there is little difference. The effect on our lives – and on the survival of freedom – will be just as destructive.
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