President Obama delivered a commencement speech at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor on Saturday.
He called on all Americans “to maintain a basic level of civility in our public debate.” Who could argue? Yet the president apparently believes that civility means protecting his policies from valid criticism.
He instructed graduates that “the practice of listening to opposing views is essential for effective citizenship.” Right again. But the civics lesson rings hollow coming from a president who falsely claimed there was “no disagreement” over his massive “stimulus” bill, and that opponents of his health care takeover offered no proposals of their own.
He explained, “what we should be asking is not whether we need ‘big government’ or a ’small government,’ but how we can create a smarter and better government.” Which is pretty much what every politician says when he wants big government and voters want small government.
Most troubling was this: “What troubles me is when I hear people say that all of government is inherently bad.” That remark reminded me of this passage from Thomas Paine’s Common Sense: “Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil.” And it has me thinking that our president, a former constitutional law professor, who just received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Michigan, really doesn’t get the American idea of government. At all.
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