Victor Davis Hanson

Obama now may take on immigration reform in the same sort of bipolar fashion. He decries the present policy toward illegal immigration and cites heartbreaking stories about workers forced to toil in the shadows by profit-hungry employers and an indifferent public. But again, we hear no mention by Obama of the role of human choice and individual responsibility.

When one breaks the law by entering the United States without proper authority, and then continues to live as an illegal alien, choices are made that have many unfortunate consequences, both for self and society at large. A failure to learn English or a decision to send back thousands of hard-earned dollars to Mexico or Latin America can only compound the dilemma of living without legal certification.

In all these cases, Obama commendably wants to help the less fortunate. But he seems to care far less for those who act responsibly -- except to demonize them if they question whether it is either fair or even sometimes wise to subsidize those who at times don't.

The president would surely improve his standing if he urged Americans to buy fewer DVDs and instead more insurance plans -- or to avoid drugs and drink, or not to borrow money that they have no desire or ability to pay back, or not to enter the United States in the first place without a proper visa.

Here I do not mean just offering the usual presidential generic good advice and platitudes, but tougher talk -- backed up by decisions on policy -- about the inability of any government always to make right the freely incurred bad choices of its citizens.

Then when things unexpectedly get rough, my bet is the American people would be more than happy to help the unfortunate.

Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.