More and more clearly, the Obama administration has put its faith in the view that the governed, who must be told what is best for their lives, whether they want it or not (see ObamaCare), can also be told that they have not seen what they’ve seen, have not heard what their ears clearly told them. When the “if you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that” speech proved to be a political land mine, team Obama instantly charged malicious, out-of-context distortion. The president was only talking about—infrastructure! About government-built roads vital for businesses, transportation, etc.
It isn’t likely that Americans who had heard the Obama address failed to understand, rightly, its sneering tone directed at those who believed they had a right to think they were responsible for their own success. Not likely that they didn’t notice the icy thrust of those words, “I’m always struck by people who feel, ‘Well, it must be because I’m just so smart.'” The president had revealed, with unforgettable clarity, his contempt for faith in individual enterprise—a value Americans of every station hold dear. So clear was this contempt, the Republicans knew enough to make it the Day One theme of their convention—the only good day. Democratic Party representatives meanwhile went forward en masse to charge the Republicans with dishonesty.
In the books yet to be written about this presidency, the Obama administration’s exceptional readings of reality will deserve an honored place, and a large one. One that should also acknowledge the fact that, in the end, the American people inevitably recognize the difference between lies and truth, illusion and the real thing.