If you recognize the name Shel Talmy, you’re a true rock ‘n’ roll aficionado. He was the original producer of The Who and The Kinks. Producing just one of these legendary bands would in itself make him legendary – two makes him monumental. He was there when Ray Davies sang You Really Got Me and Roger Daltrey sang My Generation.
Mr. Talmy walked into my office one day. He wanted help collecting his royalties for all those timeless songs that he helped to shape. After decades in England, he had just moved back to the United States, and, when I asked why he had decided to come home, he replied “England is so dark, pessimistic.” He went on to say something that I had heard before, but never in such a personal context: “In England, if they see someone driving an expensive car, they ask why does that guy have the right to drive it? Who is he? In America, they say ‘I want to get me one of those.’”
Mr. Talmy expressed the essence of what America is about – that individuals have the opportunity to accomplish whatever they want. If you work hard and are willing to sacrifice – and you’re blessed with some talent or a little luck you can achieve great things in business, the arts, or sports. That’s why people come here in droves – they want to enjoy the fruits of their own efforts without the government stripping it away from them. The right of the individual to achieve his dreams is uniquely American, and this is the essence of what President Obama does not understand and why he should therefore not be reelected.
This has nothing to do with the question of where he was born. That issue has been settled and is not a matter of discussion. This has nothing to do with his religious beliefs. He states clearly he is a Christian and it is ridiculous to question that. You can even divorce this issue from his childhood. This has to do with his life experience.
His inability to grasp this essential principle – in effect, what America represents – is deeply embedded in his character. It’s the result of Mr. Obama’s focus for his entire life, including his educational background, and his “career” choices, along with the people with whom he chose to associate as an adult. He has molded his own view of life and that view is significantly different than the American experience. Having never worked for a profit-seeking company, his grasp of how America functions exists in a vacuum completely opposite from the America experienced by ordinary citizens of all races and creeds. When he speaks of how he does relate, those expressions are not internalized consciousness, but externalized platitudes. He reads from a teleprompter, not speaking from the heart.
I recently had a discussion with a Rabbi about the Tenth Commandment, which states "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that [is] thy neighbour's." He clarified for me a common misunderstanding about this commandment. Quite often, he said, people think it means you shouldn’t covet anything, but that is not true. The scriptures were quite specific and they did not intend for people never to covet. Rather, they encouraged you to aspire to things you want as long as you do so legally and through your own efforts. The Rabbi described the essence of America, and why this country has achieved the greatness it has. President Obama, from his actions and his rhetoric, clearly believes the misconceived notion of the commandment as described by the Rabbi – that to aspire to financial success is immoral, and that those who have achieved success have broken the Tenth Commandment and have done harm to others. Therefore, they must be punished by taking their success from them in the name of “fairness.”
When the President goes off his teleprompter, he betrays his finely honed image and reveals his true inner core. Two years ago, while speaking about Dodd-Frank, he said “We’re not, we’re not trying to push financial reform because we begrudge success that is fairly earned. I mean, I do think at a certain point you have made enough money.” And it’s why he willingly embraced Elizabeth Warren’s rant that was derived from Berkeley Professor George Lakoff’s book Don’t Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate: The Essential Guide for Progressives, that successful Americans did not create their own success.
Without the protection of his teleprompter, Obama blurted out agreement with her un-American belief against individual accomplishment. His inherent value system allowed him to state “Look, if you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. You didn't get there on your own. I'm always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart.” Later, he added the phrase that defines the essential Obama: “If you got a business you didn’t build that, somebody else made that happen.” There is no taking that out of context. We’ve never heard that from an American President because no other President has ever believed that the government – and not the individual – is the primary engine of our economy and our country. Even in our darkest hours, presidents like Lincoln and FDR didn’t think we would win the war because of the strength of our military forces, but because of the character of our individual soldiers and the men and women working on the home front.
During the last election President Obama stated “We are five days away from fundamentally changing America.” He meant that. He has spent the last four years emphasizing that government is central to our existence, and that the individual must be subordinated for the greater good. He does not accept that the real greater good comes from the efforts of individuals exercising their freedom and that government exists principally to enable them to pursue their inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
President Obama does not understand these central tenets of the American being. He was given an opportunity to prove otherwise, but he has failed. We are therefore obligated as Americans to restore to the presidency someone who does hold these truths to be self-evident.