A passage from the president’s commencement speech at The Ohio State University. The speech’s greatest sin was betraying the president’s incredibly narrow, tired view of what constitutes citizenship and helping others and a painful lack of imagination in formulating that hackneyed thought.
More on that later, but this bit of hypocrisy was notable for its, ahem, audacity:
The founders trusted us with this awesome authority. We should trust ourselves with it, too. Because when we don’t, when we turn away and get discouraged and cynical, and abdicate that authority, we grant our silent consent to someone who will gladly claim it. That’s how we end up with lobbyists who set the agenda; and policies detached from what middle-class families face every day; the well-connected who publicly demand that Washington stay out of their business — and then whisper in government’s ear for special treatment that you don’t get.
Let me offer a few headlines from this week as a chaser for this shot. Take it away, Mother Jones, lest anyone assume I’m cherrypicking from conservative-friendly outlets:
Wheeler’s critics say he is too much of an industry advocate, especially given the 12 years he spent heading up the CTIA, a telecommunications trade group whose membership includes nearly every major industry player. Mother Jones’ David Corn reported on this when Wheeler’s name was first circulated back in March:
[Wheeler] is no consumer advocate, but he has this advantage: He has raised a lot of money as a campaign bundler for Obama. Wheeler is also a member in good standing with the Washington establishment; he sits on the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board and is a trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center. During 2009, he led the Obama-Biden transition’s working group overseeing science, technology, space, and arts agencies.
And, the New York Times:
In November 2008, as President-elect Barack Obama began putting together his cabinet, reports emerged that he was considering nominating Penny Pritzker, the billionaire Hyatt Hotels heiress and businesswoman who had served as his chief campaign fund-raiser, as commerce secretary. But faced with awkward questions about her financial dealings, she declared that she did not want the nomination.
Last week, however, on Ms. Pritzker’s 54th birthday, she stood beside Mr. Obama as he announced her nomination for that same position, investing his administration’s political capital in trying to get her confirmed amid a far more toxic political atmosphere than he faced at the start of his first term.
So, perhaps the cynicism about the federal government—both the president and Congress—that has grown among young people during President Obama’s tenure isn’t just paranoid delusion or mean-spirited nihilism, as he’d have you believe, or even ideological disagreement, which would be the more charitable explanation the president never employs. Perhaps it’s about experience with Obama’s utter inability to change the way things work in Washington, which often looks like a determination to double down on the way things work in Washington because he knows he can still go to commencement speeches and proclaim forces beyond his control are foiling his bold visions. Nonsense. Obama never intended to change politics as usual, but his lofty promises and blatant betrayal of them have been quite illuminating. If people are frustrated, he’s certainly partly to blame.