The President, Teddy and Saul

What, in point of fact, was the President’s speech in Osawatomie about? Common knowledge says, a preview of election themes. In reality the President was channeling classic Saul Alinsky tactics applied more broadly than at any time in our history.

On the thoughtless surface, his arguments are persuasive, the rhetoric is smooth, it ‘sounds good’. Aas is so often the case the President’s comments are fraught with contradictions; colored by exclusions of fact and history that don’t fit the narrative of the moment. The President abides by the Alinsky observation that radicals “do not have a fixed truth, truth to the radical is relative and changing, everything is relative and changing.” This absence of values is on display in the President’s speech.

Fascinating that America’s first black President would be so enamored of Teddy Roosevelt. Roosevelt was a virulent racist, fully subscribed to the requirements of the ‘White Man’s Burden”. In Teddy’s time there would has been no Barack Obama; not even close.

While the President extolled the virtues of hard work he ignored the vast number of Americans that his administration has either put out of work, denied work (Keystone Pipeline, Gulf Oil closures) or created the conditions whereby going back to work was a secondary option as unemployment benefits, apparently, have no sell by date. One paragraph removed from extolling hard work, he opines that prior to the recession; hard work had stopped paying off. While, finally, admitting that the private sector is critical to job creation, he has attacked nearly every major private sector of the economy. Alinsky; “The end is what you want, the means is how you get it……the radical views means and ends in pragmatic and strategic terms”. More from Alinsky, the third rule of ethics and means; “the end justifies almost any means.”

The President observes that families found themselves racking up more debt, he ignores the policies related to housing and housing finance that were promoted by the leading lights of his party including Bill Clinton and his former client ACORN. We all remember “a home is a right”. The President, rightly, points a finger at greed and irresponsibility, especially in the mortgage industry. This fact is inescapable. He does not however point that same finger at the full range of government and quasi government elites responsible for both creating the conditions by which the greed flourished and ignoring oversight. He points his finger at regulators; government regulators. But also makes clear his intent to generate more government regulation. He, one the one hand, says it did not work and on the other wants more of what did not work?

He ignores mention of those regulators that did identify the coming crash including senior analysts at the Fed. He ignores the fact that those regulators were slapped down by the likes of Messrs. Clinton, Dodd and Frank along with allies in the housing, banking and mortgage industry. He ignores the likes of Jim Johnson and Franklin Raines at Fannie Mae and the rampant greed of Democratic appointees who bear a significant responsibility for the fraud that created the housing crash. Sourced reporting related to Fannie and Freddy illustrates that the accounting fraud at Fannie and Freddy was specifically aimed at bonus generation. The President fails to point out the incestuous relationships involved in the housing market that created a tsunami of pressure aimed at creating and maintaining exactly those conditions that were the foundation of the housing crisis. Typical Alinsky tactics; “no fixed truth”.

The President set’s, as his goal, restoring the middle class. He spends quite a bit of rhetoric on the subject. The President “reaffirms his deep commitment” but offers no identifiable plan in support of that ‘deep commitment’. “The country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot”, says the President. Okay, easy to agree with albeit specifics are left begging. We have yet to nail down an actual definition of ‘fairness’ that shows his intended path forward.

He casts the Conservative idea that individual achievement, individual initiative and individual liberties are a critical part of the American experience as nothing more than “everyone is left to fend for themselves”. No rational Conservative believes that, it is unlikely that the President believes that. It’s a good line in a speech, but is illustrative of the lack of depth the President applies to these critical questions. Alinsky cautioned; “Radicals must be resilient, adaptable…….to avoid being trapped by their own tactics”. If ‘fairness’ is a tactical theme an actual Progressive definition of fairness would indeed trap the President.

The President claims that Roosevelt understood that a free market required ‘rules of the road’. The statement is made as if we are absent those rules and are still mired in the wild days of the mid 19th century. The analogy lacks intellectual integrity as does any analogy that compares now to 100 years ago with no sense of the context of the times. The President, of course, focuses on Roosevelt’s Progressive bent, which was an essential demand of the political times. He fails to mention that Roosevelt lost the election of 2012 to a true Progressive; Woodrow Wilson. To assume politics had something to do with Roosevelt’s ‘conversion’ to Progressive thinking does not support the premise of the speech and is, of course, ignored.

The President engages the flight of jobs to foreign shores but absolves unions of any fault by failing to mention the excesses in that particular segment of American business. He blames cheap workers oversees and the internet for job losses related to bank tellers and travel agents but fails to mention the jobs created by high technology. It sounds good until you actually think about what he’s saying.

He paints opposition broadly, characterizing them as devotees of the idea that ‘the market will take care of everything’; this disingenuous description will appeal to many who fail to think things through, hence the danger. It is hard to envision any but the most Libertarian fringe elements who think that a Wild West Marketplace is a viable alternative. Alinsky rule 10 “Do what you can and what you have to do, clothe it with moral garments”.

Sound familiar?