Romney’s formulation of Obamaism is “government-centered society”:
That is why Romney’s “government-centered society” is a brilliant stroke, why it’s going to stick — and why Obama’s partisans and Obama himself aren’t going to be able to shake it off so easily.
It has been difficult for the right to define its ideological discontent with Obama in a way that might be convincing to those who don’t think in ideological terms.
Obama is more than just a standard-issue liberal, but less than a European social democrat. He has a centrist’s cool temperament, but a statist’s bald confidence. So what is he?
In a 2010 Commentary magazine article, Jonah Goldberg playfully dubbed Obama a “neo-Socialist” — whose relation to socialism mirrored the relationship of the neoconservatives of the 1970s to old-fashioned conservatism.
“In much the same way that neoconservatives accepted a realistic and limited role for the government, Obama tolerates a limited and realistic role for the market: its wealth is necessary for the continuation and expansion of the welfare state and social justice,” Goldberg wrote. “While neoconservatism erred on the side of trusting the nongovernmental sphere — mediating institutions like markets, civil society, and the family — neosocialism gives the benefit of the doubt to government.”
That is what Romney is trying to say about Obama without deploying the all-too-hot “s” word, and in a way that will be meaningful to Americans who might mistake “neosocialist” for the name of Keanu Reeves’ character in “The Matrix.”
What can I say? It lacks the immediacy of Reagan’s dramatic, “We’re from the government, and we’re here to help,” and honestly, I don’t think that Romney has much of that felicity with inserting people into the picture. I can hope that the message will resonate, though.
Last night, John Stossel did a long piece at Fox that was part discursion, part advertisement for his book, “No, They Can’t.” One of the government entities that he took on was the TSA. You may recall that that sad and stupid institution was created by Congress, with provisos that it not be unionized. It was nevertheless unionized, and has been distinguished itself by levels of bureaucratic incompetence and in-your-face stupidity befitting a 50-year-old government operation. For reasons unexplained, San Francisco, of all cities, was able to receive a waiver to utilize instead a private operation, much more efficient and friendly by all accounts. Fox asked permission of Homeland Security to interview them, and was told that they were camera shy people—but when they approached that company directly, they were given full access. Other airports that see large seasonal swings in visitor numbers (such as one near one of the hundreds of national parks, which total 58 in number) have asked for such waivers, but have been declined after long waiting for unexpressed reasons. They’ve asked for the waivers in part because the TSA does not adjust to the seasonal variation in the number of visitors, thus ensuring that its employees will be idle for 8 months of the year, and overwhelmed for the other 4, creating nuisances for the travelers at peak season.
Moreover, private companies have been able to perform the duties of the TSA appreciably better and at about one-tenth the cost of the TSA’s lousy service. I don’t believe that Stossel says so directly, but the viewer is left to conclude that the TSA’s overall rationale is to serve itself, and to create another vested cadre of government employees who will vote their interest for more government. Customer satisfaction really isn’t an issue, and why should it be, despite the administration’s rhetoric about “the Federal Family”? Like any other Cosa Nostra operation, the Federal Family looks out for its own interests first, as became startlingly apparent with the release of the inspector’s report on the GSA’s Vegas conference boondoggle. In comments to one post on the subject, I saw someone complaining about the coverage, stating that in his experience the shindigs thrown by private companies were much more sumptuous and over the top. So . . . what’s the problem?
The problem is that most citizens have a voluntary association with enterprises in the private sector. It’s not their money that’s being wasted at lavish conferences. And as Stossel’s piece makes abundantly clear, any failure to perform on the part of government hackeries tends to be addressed by the pouring of more money into their foolishness. So, as Meep and others here continually note, what we see is greater incentivization of idiocy masquerading as profundity.
There are many lefty critics of the coverage of the GSA debacle, and they seem united in their belief that the problem here isn’t the irresponsibility of the government agency charged with rooting out wastefulness, but with the rhetoric from the right-leaning media. They point out that the top official at the GSA resigned, and that she took malefactors down before leaving. That’s nice, but the results had been in pocket for almost a year, and it was only when the now-infamous videos were made public that we saw any scurrying of rats. Obama fecklessly made the high performance of the GSA the subject of one of his photo-op appearances to sell us all on the revolution in government accountability which he was overseeing, not unlike his praises for Solyndra, and now, it seems, it’s unfair to use that against him.