Jonah Goldberg

Congratulations, average American! It's your turn to be blamed for President Obama's -- andAmerica's -- problems.

This is the biggest honor you've won since Time magazine named "you" the Person of the Year.

Being the root cause of our dire national predicament puts you in some very august company indeed. You are joining the ranks of George W. Bush, the Japanese tsunami, the Arab Spring, Wall Street fat cats and other luminaries, both living and merely anthropomorphized.

Last week at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, Obama explained that, "We've been a little bit lazy over the last couple of decades. We've kind of taken for granted -- 'Well, people would want to come here' -- and we aren't out there hungry, selling America and trying to attract new businesses into America."

The White House and its proxies insist that Obama wasn't talking about Americans per se. He just meant we've been lazy about attracting foreign investment.

We'll come back to that in a minute. For now, let's take him at his word.

Still, you can understand the confusion. In September, the president reflected in an interview that America is "a great, great country that has gotten a little soft, and we didn't have that same competitive edge that we needed over the last couple of decades."

Shortly after that, he told rich donors at a fundraiser that "we have lost our ambition, our imagination and our willingness to do the things that built the Golden Gate Bridge and Hoover Dam."

So, Obama thinks Americans lack ambition and are soft, but don't you dare suggest that he also thinks they're lazy.

The point of all this is pretty obvious. Obama has a long-standing habit of seeing failure to support his agenda as a failure of character. The Democratic voters of western Pennsylvania refused to vote for him, he explained, because they were "bitter." He told black Democrats lacking sufficient enthusiasm for his re-election that they needed to "Take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. Stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying."

And in the context of the country's economic doldrums, Obama sees a lack of ambition, softness, laziness, etc., in anyone who doesn't support his agenda. He's spent several years now exhorting Americans about how we have to "win the future" by doing what he says. He's told us repeatedly that this is our "Sputnik moment" when all Americans must drop their selfish, cynical or foolish objections to his program. People who disagree aren't putting their "country first."


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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