Barack Obama is trying to install a self-described communist and “black nationalist” as an unelected, unconfirmed “czar” with indefinite powers to force private companies to engage in economic activity that meets the President’s political agenda. The would-be czar, Van Jones, turns out to be a paranoid lunatic who believes in a disgusting conspiracy theory, which stands as an insult to the people murdered on 9/11, the heroes who died trying to save them, and the heroes who died avenging them. The truth of Jones’ revolting beliefs, including his signature on a manifesto, was easily discovered through simple Internet searches. This means either Obama knew about it and hoped to hide it from the public, he knew about it and thought it was not a big deal, or he was ignorant of vital information about someone he planned to appoint in defiance of Congress and the Constitution.
What was Barack Obama’s major qualification for the presidency, the one thing we were repeatedly told to consider above his paper-thin resume, shadowy associations with racists and terrorists, and troubling ethical background? Ah, yes: his judgment. Do you remember these chart-topping hits from the 2008 presidential campaign?
He has within him the possibility to change the direction and tone of American foreign policy, which need changing; his rise will serve as a practical rebuke to the past five years, which need rebuking; his victory would provide a fresh start in a nation in which a fresh start would come as a national relief. He climbed steep stairs, born off the continent with no father to guide, a dreamy, abandoning mother, mixed race, no connections. He rose with guts and gifts. He is steady, calm, and, in terms of the execution of his political ascent, still the primary and almost only area in which his executive abilities can be discerned, he shows good judgment in terms of whom to hire and consult, what steps to take and moves to make. We witnessed from him this year something unique in American politics: He took down a political machine without raising his voice. – Peggy Noonan, October 31, 2008
President Obama will (I pray, secularly) surely understand that traditional left-politics aren’t going to get us out of this pit we’ve dug for ourselves. If he raises taxes and throws up tariff walls and opens the coffers of the DNC to bribe-money from the special interest groups against whom he has (somewhat disingenuously) railed during the campaign trail, then he will almost certainly reap a whirlwind that will make Katrina look like a balmy summer zephyr. Obama has in him — I think, despite his sometimes airy-fairy “We are the people we have been waiting for” silly rhetoric — the potential to be a good, perhaps even great leader. He is, it seems clear enough, what the historical moment seems to be calling for. – Christopher Buckley, October 10, 2008
Many more examples would be easy to find. I highlight Buckley and Noonan because they were nominally people of the Right, working to make other conservatives comfortable with the man who had dazzled them. Of course, most liberals are inclined to believe any liberal candidate has good judgment. Buckley and Noonan viewed themselves as ambassadors of Hope and Change to the hopeless and unchanging Right, asserting that Obama was qualified for the presidency because his judgment and temperament were objectively excellent despite his political philosophy.
It’s not unreasonable to promote judgment as an important qualification for the presidency. It’s a rather broad concept, since virtually everything a person does reflects on their ability to make reasoned decisions. Anyone who supports a leadership candidate, for any reason except blind faith or a romantic response to their charisma, is endorsing their judgment. Voters are attracted to candidates with military backgrounds, in part, because an honorable military career demonstrates courage, self-sacrifice, and the ability to remain focused under intense pressure.
In Obama’s case, the independent voter was presented with only two reasons to vote for him: his vaguely defined policy agenda, and his supposedly marvelous judgment. (I know many will suggest an obvious, but uncomfortable, third reason was the color of his skin, but that was always more about the voters wishing to purchase virtue at a discount price, rather than a reason to vote for this specific candidate.) The vaguely defined policy agenda turned out to be even more ephemeral than any independent voter might have thought, since few of Obama’s actions in office bear any resemblance to the policies he campaigned on, even judged on the usual dismal curve for politicians of either party. This leaves only the matter of Obama’s decision-making skills, and the Van Jones debacle is only the latest, and most outrageous, evidence that his media cheerleaders were wrong about that, too.
The position Jones was appointed to fill is as much of an outrage as the man himself. Here is a working definition of fascism, from The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics:
Where socialism sought totalitarian control of a society’s economic processes through direct state operation of the means of production, fascism sought that control indirectly, through domination of nominally private owners. Where socialism nationalized property explicitly, fascism did so implicitly, by requiring owners to use their property in the “national interest”—that is, as the autocratic authority conceived it. (Nevertheless, a few industries were operated by the state.) Where socialism abolished all market relations outright, fascism left the appearance of market relations while planning all economic activities. Where socialism abolished money and prices, fascism controlled the monetary system and set all prices and wages politically.
Does all of that sound familiar? How else do you describe an unelected political operative, appointed without the advice or consent of Congress, and gifted with a thirty billion dollar budget for the purpose of shaping private industry to fit the President’s political agenda? I’ve always been wary of using the Eff Word to describe domestic political figures… but after seven months of corporate takeovers, stolen “stimulus” money, political destruction of inconvenient citizens, pointed insinuations that the public’s right of free speech is a secondary concern against the urgency of the Obama agenda, and the deployment of organized squads of thugs to use violence against dissenters… capped off by the green banner raised above a phalanx of czars, and the man chosen to hold it…
If this isn’t fascism, the word has no meaning at all, aside from being a historically inaccurate synonym for German National Socialism. At this point, the burden of proof is upon Obama, to explain how his actions are not fascist. If he does that during his upcoming address to schoolchildren, first period homeroom class would finally become interesting. I would tune in. I’d buy it on DVD. I’d even pay extra for Blu-Ray, if there were some decent extras, like maybe an interactive game where you match up Obama’s cabinet appointees and czars with the crimes they have committed.
Fascism is a particularly ugly form of collectivist economics because it retains the illusion of private industry, which is dominated by the state. Private industry does not like to be dominated; it resists. This gives the fascist an early, and urgent, need for domestic enemies he can rally the public against. Van Jones signed a document alleging that Obama’s predecessors, in collusion with a huge number of military and civilian government personnel, conspired to murder thousands of American citizens for financial gain. Obama wanted to put him in charge of an agency that would use its lavish funding to assert that uncooperative businesses are conspiring to destroy the planet for financial gain. It would disburse taxpayer subsidies to politically connected businesses that support the President’s environmental agenda, which is marketed as a mystical religious faith, with dissension treated as heresy. Does any of that sound designed to bring Americans closer together?
The media is trying to ignore the Van Jones outrage. Don’t let them. This is not a “mistake.” A mistake is a matter of chance, a momentary failure of reason and wisdom. This is part of a pattern. Are we supposed to believe Obama knew nothing about any of his appointees? Are we expected to believe his White House staff is utterly incapable of matching the research a bunch of bloggers managed in less than twenty-four hours? Would President John McCain have been indulged if he’d appointed a “white nationalist” who signed a petition calling for the investigation of Bill Clinton in the murder of Vince Foster? The paper Van Jones signed says that every soldier who fell in Iraq died to cover up an act of mass murder, joining thousands of willing accomplices. That’s not an “indiscretion.” It’s an insult to everyone who died on September 11, everyone who mourns them, everyone who comforted the mourners, and everyone who fought to bring justice to the murderers.
I suspect Obama will realize his deadly mistake, possibly by the time you read this, and Jones will be urged to make a quiet withdrawal into obscurity. Perhaps he could apply for a future position as ambassador to Honduras, after Obama installs Manuel Zelaya as dictator. He should not be allowed to do get away with this. Obama should be compelled to withdraw his name from consideration, along with a detailed accounting of Jones’ objectionable beliefs, and a full explanation for why such a person would be appointed to a position of power and authority under his Administration. Voters can keep this explanation in mind when they have a chance to vote the President’s party out of Congress next year. Democrat leaders can keep the voters in mind while they contemplate the ghostly footsteps that lead from Congress to the Nixon White House, and ask themselves how much is enough.
As for those of us who had enough of Barack Obama long before Election Night 2008, our judgment has been utterly and indisputably vindicated.