Victor Davis Hanson

Yet this year, the Obama administration's smallest deficit in six years will still exceed $600 billion -- even with the sharp sequestration cuts, even with the supposedly recovering economy, even with the curtailment of two wars abroad, and even with taxes on the top income brackets returning to the Clinton-era rates.

Candidate Obama once had a vision of a new national health coverage that would lower premiums. His dream coverage was not supposed to affect existing health plans. It was promised to make American businesses more competitive. New universal insurance would even decrease deficits.

Had President Obama followed his own guidelines, perhaps we would not be fighting over the Affordable Care Act -- or the employer mandate would not have been postponed, or there would not have been an online bureaucratic maze.

Well aside from its botched online inauguration, Obamacare is already raising existing premiums and requiring new taxes. It is forecasted to spike the debt. The rules of existing health plans are changing. Businesses are discouraged from hiring permanent employees. Obama in 2008 might have agreed with all the present criticisms of his own, or any rival, universal health-care plan.

For most of 2008, candidate Obama also called for a kinder and gentler Washington politics. In early 2011, Obama admirably reminded Americans to conduct themselves more civilly during political debate and disagreement: "Only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation."

Unfortunately, during the present shutdown, the president in a single press conference called his Republican adversaries names of the sort that he earlier had warned the nation about. Through a series of metaphors, similes and allusions, Obama reduced his opposition to little more than ransom takers, house burners, defaulters, global economy crashers, nuclear bomb users, extremists, threateners, extortionists, hostage takers, plant burners and equipment breakers -- who are apparently also untrustworthy and irresponsible.

Just as the obstructionist Obama was not an arsonist in 2006 and Joe Biden was not a hostage taker, Republicans who now likewise wish to follow their examples to control the spending of a government even deeper in debt, and additionally beset with a costly but unproven new entitlement, are not either.


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.


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