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Scandal or Storm: The Making of Obama’s Legacy

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

Democrats are practically pleading with President Obama to sharpen his message. After successfully raising taxes on every working American at the beginning of the year, the progressive movement has suffered one debilitating blow after another.


In March, many in the media laughed when Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) declared conservatives were winning. But the rallying cry of collective action that rang throughout Obama’s second inaugural address now seems like more empty rhetoric, not an emerging reality.

Still buzzed from their victory over Mitt Romney, Team Obama held the misguided belief they could convince Americans (not collectivists to begin with) that they should join the team. Of course, whatever hope they had of changing the American people vanished as the IRS scandal grew.

Just last week, McClatchy reported the IRS audited a retired Army Lt. Col. after he began donating to and participating in conservative causes. As he explained it, “I am just a common citizen, who honorably served his nation for 23 years, who has not had this experience before and now honestly questions the actions and motivation of the IRS and how far they have gone in their actions.”

Bill Clinton’s former labor secretary Robert Reich cannot simply dismiss this as the “scandal du jour." Rather, it strikes at the very core of the Obama agenda.

For Americans to put their faith in the President’s government-centric solutions, they have to put their faith in government. They must also be comfortable with power inevitably vested in nameless, faceless bureaucrats as the leviathan grows.

Proponents of big-government are not stupid. They understand Americans are not comfortable with the necessary erosion of freedom that comes with the growth of government. They understand that nicer, more Orwellian ways exist to say those sorts of things.


To wit, last week in Asbury Park, New Jersey, President Obama made clear “part of the reason I came back, to let people know we’re going to keep on going until we finish.” To make sure the crowd understood, he said, “I promised you that your country would have your back. I told you we would not quit until the job was done, and I meant it. I meant it.”

There is absolutely no denying the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. But going back to the Jersey Shore provided Obama the opportunity to demonstrate how he was making their lives work. He wanted to show the American people the federal government could work for people, not just take their tax dollars and spend them on targeting conservatives.

This approach stands in stark contrast to the comments made by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) in the days after a massive tornado swept through Moore, Oklahoma:

“We have too much government now. What you have seen already in Oklahoma is a complete voluntary response. Almost $50 million has been raised and given for the cause down there. You have seen a tremendous neighbor-to-neighbor response. Less than 25 people had to spend the night in a shelter out of everybody that was displaced because neighbors are helping neighbors. Watch how we handle this. We will get by and rebuild.”

Some may be tempted to dismiss any comparison between the two events. Before doing so, consider the President’s words after touring the damage in Moore:


“And when we say that we’ve got your back, I promise you, we keep our word. If you talk to folks in Alabama who have been affected over the last couple of years; you talk to the folks at Joplin, who I know have actually sent volunteers down here to Moore; if you talk to folks in New Jersey and New York, they’ll tell you that when we say we’re going to be there until you completely rebuild, we mean it. And I want everybody to have that confidence.”

Obama’s legacy will be defined by how people perceive the role of government, perhaps more specifically the role of his government. We should ask ourselves if we want a government that has our backs every step of the way? Perhaps the more important question is, if so, are we willing to accept the inevitable consequences of a government large enough to do so?

I, for one, am not.

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