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Convening Against Convention

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Often in politics, what is not said is as or more important than what is. Silence can serve as an endorsement, an admission, an evasion, or all of the above. As the Democrats gather in Charlotte for their convention, it is useful to consider what you will not hear or see from the party vowing to move the nation “forward.”

1. In God We Trust. The Democratic platform removes all reference to God. (San Antonio mayor Julian Castro missed the memo: he invoked God five times in his keynote address Tuesday night.) This emerging antipathy towards God is unprecedented and it represents a radical departure from past political experience, where both parties recognized the critical role religion plays in society. Indeed, such a radically secular platform would have confounded the leaders of the abolitionist and civil rights movements, whose convictions were rooted in faith in the Almighty, and who appealed to equality under God, not the state, in their quest for greater civil rights. In contrast, the modern Democratic credo appears to be, “In (Big) Government We Trust.”

2. America is Exceptional. Barack Obama said he believes in American exceptionalism like the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism. Given the current state of Greece, that is a sad statement. This week in Charlotte, expect the food stamp Democrats to speak of an America that is exceptional only insofar as everyone is exceptionally dependent on federal largesse, and therefore exceptionally miserable, like the Greeks. Indeed, a new Democratic National Committee video proclaimed, “The Government is the only thing we all belong to.” God forbid. This revealing statement is offensive, and exactly backward. As President Reagan said at his first inaugural, “We are a nation that has a government, not the other way around.” In Barack Obama’s America,
e pluribus unum has been replaced by a nation of 300 million dependent wards of the federal nanny state.

3. Leading from Behind Succeeded. In the Middle East, “leading from behind” produced atrocities in Syria, a Muslim Brotherhood president in Egypt, chaos in Libya, and an emboldened Russia menacing its neighbors, hardly a record about which to boast. On the European debt crisis, which threatens our economic wellbeing, Obama has been AWOL, an inexcusable failure of engagement and leadership. Foreign leaders have seen past President Obama’s empty rhetoric, and in his hollow slogans (“reset”) they see an abdication of American authority and influence unthinkable four years ago.

4. The Era of Big Government is Over. In 1996, Bill Clinton signed historic welfare reform legislation that cut the welfare caseloads in half, lifted millions of children out of poverty, and lifted millions of inner city residents out of despondence and dependence and into dignified employment. President Obama must have missed this historic, bipartisan achievement while out community organizing. And he apparently prefers the poor to stay that way, as he recently gutted the heart of the welfare reform regime.

5. George W. Bush Was Correct. On taxes, detainees, the TARP program, Gitmo, drones and Special Forces operations, former Bush criticizer-in-chief Barack Obama has implicitly endorsed the logic and policy positions advocated by the 43rd president. President Bush has admirably refused to comment on President Obama’s performance, but don’t expect 44 to give any props to 43 for the successful initiatives he inherited and has benefited from. Magnanimity is apparently in short supply for this supposedly “post-partisan” president.

6. We Have A Plan. President Obama has given no indication of what he intends to accomplish during a second administration. Only three options exist: (1) Clintonesque small ball, e.g., school uniforms; (2) Clintonesque triangulation, e.g., welfare reform; or (3) more of the same failure: federal “investments” and economic malaise. If past is prologue, only option three appears plausible. Yet option three is not a viable reelection strategy, so what to do?

In the legal profession, lawyers have recourse to only three approaches to make their case. They can argue the facts if the facts are on their side. If the facts aren’t helpful, they argue the law. If the facts and the law are against them, they can argue for a change in the law.

The same is true in politics this year. The facts of Obama’s stewardship are not helpful: forty-something months of employment above eight percent, record food stamp usage and federal dependency, moribund job creation, an anemic recovery, an unpopular health care law, foreign policy failures, and failed attempts at state intervention through overhyped investments (stimulus) that failed miserably.

Nor is the law helpful to his agenda. Thus, the president flouts laws with which he disagrees (immigration laws, welfare reform, DOMA, border enforcement), and imposes laws of dubious legitimacy (Obamacare). Without resort to facts or law, the president is left with arguing that America, rather than him, is the problem and must be changed.

Recently asked to grade himself on his handling of the economy, Barack Obama gave himself an “incomplete,” saying he needed more time. For the millions of unemployed Americans drowning in the Obama recession, more time for Obama is the last thing they need or the president deserves. The Greek columns of 2008 may be gone, thankfully, but the fundamental inadequacy and misguided vision of the man again accepting the Democratic nomination persist, to the detriment of his party and the nation.

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