Heeding the Times from Harry Antonides' Desk

The U.S. Presidential Election: What is at Stake?

November, 2012

Why should Canadians be interested in the outcome of the U.S. election, that at the time of this writing is only days away? The short answer is that the outcome will directly impact Canada as well as the rest of the free world for a number of reasons. Here I want to concentrate on what would likely happen if President Obama were re-elected, and why I think that such an outcome would be detrimental.  

If Obama wins another four years in the White House, the country will continue its drift towards an ever expanding role of the government and its agencies. Such a trend will result in less and less space for personal freedom. Perhaps more importantly, freedom for the many institutions such as churches, families, schools/universities, business, science, the media, the arts, and a host of other voluntary associations (mediating structures) would be seriously at risk – even more than they are now. 

When Obama first ran for the presidency in 2008, he was a virtual unknown. But he soon won the hearts of many who welcomed this eloquent African-American who promised to elevate the level of discourse in Congress and bring the two parties and the nation together. However, the opposite happened, and he turned out to be a divisive and very “progressive” (left-wing) politician who treated the Republicans with disdain. He surrounded himself with admiring advisers and policy makers who are strong on ideology but weak in the practice of constitution-based politics. 

The result is that the U.S has run up a huge debt that caused the downgrade of the U.S. federal government credit rating, which will be a heavy burden for coming generations. Nothing has been done to deal with this debt, the tax code, and the problems of immigration. International relations are in shambles, made worse by Obama’s attempt to force Israel into surrendering more territory. At the same time, he is trying to make peace with the Islamists, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, arch enemy of the West, especially America and Israel.

The most disturbing effort in that direction is the Obama administration’s ban on all references to Islam-inspired terrorism in all training manuals and in reports of violent attacks such as the Fort Hood massacre in November 2009.

Fortunately, after four years of Obama’s presidency, we now know a lot more about him and his views. Recently, a score of books and articles, including the film 2016 Obama’s America (now available on DVD), have appeared that give  a realistic perspective on the significance of the Obama presidency. In the following I will discuss four books dealing with that subject,

The Amateur

Edward Klein, a New York Times bestselling author, minces no words in describing what he calls the “dark side of Obama.”  He spent a year and a half interviewing people, both pro and con, who know Obama close-up, going back to his early years in Chicago where, Klein writes, “Obama first donned his disguise as an ideological wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

Klein explains that his job in discovering the real Obama was made harder because he and his advisers have gone to great length to hide his real self. As we all know, Obama was helped generously in this effort by the mainstream media which enthusiastically, and to their shame, became Obama cheer leaders. (That story is well documented in Bernard Goldberg’s A Slobbering Love Affair.)

The author writes that in the interviews he encountered something new in American politics: a president who is an amateur, a term coined by no one less than President Clinton. Obama is an excellent campaigner but an incompetent president. Klein concludes that he is an ideologue who is “in revolt” against the values of America. That’s why he has “railed at the capitalist system, demonized the wealthy, and embraced the Occupy Wall Street Movement.”

One of the oldest Chicago acquaintances of Obama told Klein that he remembers Obama as a person who had delusions about himself and his place in history. He told Klein: “He [Obama] is afflicted with megalomania. How else can you explain the chutzpah of an obscure community organizer who began writing his autobiography before he was thirty years old—and before he had any accomplishments to write about.” The Chicago interviewee concluded with this unflattering opinion:
You can explain it with any number of words: arrogance, conceit, egotism, vanity, and hubris….But whatever word you choose, it spells the same thing— disaster for the country he leads.”

On June 30,2009, Obama invited nine like-minded prominent American  historians to a White House dinner, which was a private and off-the-record event. No conservative historians were invited. One of them, Michael Beschloss, had written that Obama is “probably the smartest guy ever to become president.”

At this meeting of nine eminent historians, the question foremost in Obama’s mind was how he could become  a “transformative” president by changing “the historic trajectory of America’s domestic and foreign policy.” Obama’s famous self-confidence was clearly on display. He planned to work on bringing Israelis and Palestinians together and establish peace in the Middle East. Ditto America’s relations with North Korea and Iran. He wanted to re-make the entire healthcare system and expand the regulatory function of the government to create a more just and equitable society.

Obama indicated that he had a preference for a corporatist political system which is governed by big employers, big unions, and government officials through a formal mechanism at the national level. The corporatist system has been tried in several countries, such as Italy, Greece, Spain, and Portugal, where they were abject failures. Yet Obama in his unlimited self-confidence and arrogance ignores the lessons of history and is prepared to gamble with the future of America.

After America

Mark Steyn is the author of two books dealing with America’s politics and its place in the world. His first book America Alone: The End of the World as We Know it, published in 2006, is a powerful statement about the problems and challenges faced by the Western democracies.

The thrust of this book is that the free West is walking into a trap of its own making while blissfully ignoring all the danger signs that are there. They include the hatred and violence of radical Islam directed against the free West, most shockingly revealed in the 9/11 murderous attack on  America.

However, Steyn reminds us that the biggest threat we face is not coming from the outside but resides in our own midst, namely, the spiritual and moral vacuum at the core of our civilization.  He describes this as a severe case of “civilizational exhaustion,” marked by a lack of confidence, self-loathing, and a spirit of appeasement, prevalent among the cultural elite in the West

This view  has given rise to the belief that no culture is better than any other. They are merely different, not worse or better. This non-judgemental multicultural ideology is cleverly exploited by radical Islamists to make inroads into the Western democracies. Steyn writes that multiculturalism is an obvious fraud “conceived by the Western elites not to celebrate all cultures but to deny their own; it is, thus, the real suicide bomb.”

Steyn’s second book, After America: Get Ready for Armageddon was published in 2011. In  his previous book, America Alone, he was suggesting that America is indeed an exceptional nation, still able to avoid the “civilizational exhaustion” that is afflicting the West. However, five years later, Steyn suggests that America, too, has capitulated to the same destructive forces and beliefs.

He believes that  America is in danger of following in Europe’s path  toward an ever expanding state that will drown itself in a sea of indebtedness. At the same time Steyn is convinced that the financial mismanagement does not stand on its own and cannot be isolated and treated by itself. He writes that increasing dependency, undermining self-reliance and personal responsibility are responsible for the multitrillion-dollar debt  catastrophe. This is not just about balancing the books, “but about balancing the most basic impulses of society. These are structural and, ultimately, moral questions.”

Steyn knows his Bible and compares our time with what happened during the time of  King Belshazzar of the Babylonians as described in the book of Daniel. The king threw a  party where they toasted  the gods of gold, silver, and other materials. Suddenly, a mysterious hand wrote on the wall these ominous words meaning: counted, weighed, and found wanting. The same night Belshazzar was killed and Darius the Mede became the new king.

Steyn has the knack of blasting away the sugar-coated cover of the fact that powerful, destructive  forces are busy dismantling America. Readers may be turned off by the title of this book, but those who are prepared for an honest encounter with  what is eating away at the very foundations of American society (and the entire West),  will be well rewarded.

Obama’s Rage

Dinesh D’Souza, also a New York Times bestsellng author, has taken the discussion about the meaning of the Obama presidency to an entirely new level. He had to discard a number of assumptions before he realized that Obama did not fit any of them. D’Souza calls Obama an enigmatic figure, a puzzle to his adversaries and his supporters, the least known person ever to reach the presidency.

D’Souza writes that his book is about three dreams.  First, there is the American dream of a new country of opportunities and freedom for all, the new order for the ages, also called American exceptionalism. Obama does not believe in that. Second, there is Martin Luther King’s dream of a colour-blind society where all are equal under law.

Both dreams helped Obama to get where he is, but they are not his primary concern. That lies elsewhere, hinted at in the title of his first book, Dreams from my Father, not “of” but “from.”  In other words, the dream bequeathed to him by his father is the key to understanding Barack Jr. So the question becomes who was Barack Obama Sr., and what did he believe?  This book is about the answers to these two questions.

Dreams from my Father is about Obama’s quest for purpose, as he himself describes it as “the record of a personal, interior journey – a boy’s search for his father and through that search a workable meaning for his life as a black American….It was into my father’s image, the black man, son of Africa, that I’d packed all the attributes I thought in myself.”

Barack Obama Sr. was an anti-colonialist. He grew up under British rule in Kenya and took part in the struggle for independence. That struggle left deep scars on Obama’s father and grandfather.

The main tenets of anti-colonialism are the following: colonial empires are maintained by murderous conquest, terror and violence; all colonial regimes are racist and dehumanize the colonized; colonialism is a system of piracy in which the wealth of the colonized countries is stolen by the colonizers; another tenet of anti-colonialism is that the colonial powers have a new leader, namely, the United States; the fifth tenet  is that there is no end to this system of injustice without getting the colonizers out; and finally, socialism is the only way out of colonialism.

Barack Obama Sr. became an important participant in the Kenyan independence movement, but, writes D’Souza, by an incredible osmosis he was able to transmit his ideology to his son living in America. “That man is today the president of the United States.”

Early in his life, Obama learned to see America as a force for global domination and destruction, and its military as an instrument of neocolonial occupation. He came to see the rich as an oppressive class and corporations as a mechanism for economic control and exploitation. Obama is convinced that he must squeeze the neo-colonialism out of America and the West, and rein in the military so that it does not conduct wars of occupation against other countries.

Obama seeks to check American and Western consumption of global resources, and bring the major sectors of American industry under government (custodial) control as protection against corporate power. He delights in castigating and exposing the rich, whom he views as a neocolonial force within American society.

Of course, Obama’s surprising success would not have been possible without the winds of change blowing his way. Those winds were sown in the minds of gullible students by radical professors and other intellectuals. That’s where Obama’s dream from his father merged, with astounding success, with  the ideas of his mentors such as Saul Alinsky (1909-1972), Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, Frank Marshall Davis (1905-1987), Frantz Fanon (1925-1961), Edward Said (1935-2003), Roberto Mangabeira Unger, and Jeremiah Wright, to name only a few.

For obvious reasons, Obama does not want you to know that these haters of the West, and especially of America, have been phenomenally influential in shaping his worldview and politics. (For the details of this cover-up, see Paul Kengor, The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor.)   

Many readers may be shocked by D’Souza explanation of the revolutionary ideology that Obama inherited from his father and was confirmed by his mentors. But this book goes a long way to explain the intellectual foundation of Obama’s worldview, which is no different from what Obama himself has said, namely, that his father’s dream has become his dream. D’Souza writes: “It is a dream that, as president, he is imposing with a vengeance on America and the world.”

The Roots of Obama’s Rage  is written to bring to light the real Obama. Whether the author succeeds will be hotly debated for a long time. In any case, this is a fascinating book that is a must-read for those who want to get a better understanding of Obama the man, and the politician who has made an impressive start in fundamentally transforming America.

hantonides@sympatico.ca