Warner Todd Huston
Obama thinks original Declaration of Independence not good enough?
By Warner Todd Huston
January 19, 2009

In his Saturday remarks during his campaign train ride, President-elect Barack Obama issued some soaring rhetoric about the state of the country today. At least the Old Media thought it was soaring rhetoric, anyway. Typically, the media was overawed by his mellifluous tones, of course. But during these remarks in Baltimore Obama made a startling suggestion. He said we need a "new Declaration of Independence."

Apparently the original one isn't good enough for the new president, but it also seems a silly rhetorical flourish. After all, what is it that we are declaring independence from this time? Recall that the original one was a declaration of separation from an oppressive monarchy, one that led to a seven-year-long war. Are we in such dire straits now?

And, needless to say, it is also amazing the Old Media didn't jump all over Obama for this conceit. Can you imagine the media giving a pass to a Republican that proposed making a new Declaration of Independence? Doubtless they would attack a Republican mercilessly for suggesting the original Declaration was out of date or no longer applicable — as well they should.

Here are the excerpted remarks from Obama's January 17 speech concerning the Declaration.

    We are here today not simply to pay tribute to those patriots who founded our nation in Philadelphia or defended it in Baltimore, but to take up the cause for which they gave so much. The trials we face are very different now, but severe in their own right. Only a handful of times in our history has a generation been confronted with challenges so vast. An economy that is faltering. Two wars, one that needs to be ended responsibly, one that needs to be waged wisely. A planet that is warming from our unsustainable dependence on oil.

    And yet while our problems may be new, what is required to overcome them is not. What is required is the same perseverance and idealism that those first patriots displayed. What is required is a new declaration of independence, not just in our nation, but in our own lives — from ideology and small thinking, prejudice and bigotry — an appeal not to our easy instincts but to our better angels.

    That is the reason I launched my campaign for the presidency nearly two years ago. I did so in the belief that the most fundamental American ideal, that a better life is in store for all those willing to work for it, was slipping out of reach. That Washington was serving the interests of the few, not the many. And that our politics had grown too small for the scale of the challenges we faced.

    But I also believed something else. I believed that our future is our choice, and that if we could just recognize ourselves in one another and bring everyone together — Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, north, south, east and west, black, white, Latino, Asian, and Native American, gay and straight, disabled and not — then not only would we restore hope and opportunity in places that yearned for both, but maybe, just maybe, we might perfect our union in the process.

Let's review Obama's claims in these few paragraphs, shall we?

In the first excerpted paragraph, Obama suggests that the nation has rarely faced such a financial crisis. This is, of course, bunk. This nation has faced many of financial crises and come through them all quite well in the long run. In fact, a large number of our presidents faced near ruinous financial situations. From George Washington, who faced starting a new nation with hardly a farthing in our accounts and a crushing war debt, to Andrew Jackson with his Second Bank of the US troubles, to Lincoln and the fancy footwork he had to do to finance the Civil War. We had scares in the 1880s, a monstrous stock market crash in 1929, depression throughout the thirties and forties, inflation, deflation and stagflation from Nixon to Reagan, a mini recession during G.H.W.Bush's days in office, a down turn as G.W. Bush started his term.... And these are just a few of the financial crises this country has faced. So, for Obama to act as if we've never faced financial troubles before is simply absurd.

And we won't even bother mentioning the fantasy foolishness that is his inclusion of globaloney as a major hurdle for the future.

The second paragraph is where we get the mention of this supposed "new" declaration.

    What is required is the same perseverance and idealism that those first patriots displayed. What is required is a new declaration of independence, not just in our nation, but in our own lives — from ideology and small thinking, prejudice and bigotry — an appeal not to our easy instincts but to our better angels.

It appears that Obama fundamentally misunderstands what the Declaration of Independence even stood for. The Declaration was no denouement of "ideology." In fact, it was quite a triumphant invention of one: an American ideology. It was the firm statement that all men were created equal and "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights."

But it was also chiefly a call to throw off a government. It was no mere call to be nice to your neighbors in any such simple way as Obama invokes the document.

This makes one wonder, is Obama suggesting that our government needs to be thrown off? Is Obama suggesting that, in emulation of the original purpose of the Declaration, we should be declaring revolution? Perhaps he is? But if he is, it sounds a vaguely Marxist suggestion, doesn't it? Let's face it, none of the dire political situations that are outlined in the real Declaration bear any relationship to today and if Obama thinks that we do live in a like circumstance, he must want a new document that offers just such a radical solution.

He next seems to warn of his intention to grow government to gargantuan proportions in the third paragraph I excerpt here. He bemoans that "our politics had grown too small for the scale of the challenges" we face and the only solution he sees is a giant nanny state to change that dynamic. Be afraid. Be very afraid!

Let us also point out that a giant, bloated government is the farthest thing from the intentions of the very Founders he invoked in Baltimore.

His last is mere bombast as far as the history of his own political career goes. Obama is simply not known as a uniter. He has never much reached across the aisle and is not known as one that serves many masters. He has never once bucked his party, has always voted to the most liberal end of the spectrum and has never taken a centrist position — one he's followed through on — in his entire life. So, his wooly claims that he wants to "bring everyone together" has to stand as an outright lie until he actually does something... anything... to prove the blather true.

This whole meme also raises another question among all these I've already addressed. When one says they need a "new" something, usually they intend to replace the old something. Does Barack Obama propose we replace the original Declaration of Independence with his new, PC version?

Still, I suppose it is easy to merely chalk this up as happy talk given by a man about to take his first tentative steps toward his place in history. It is easy to see this as bombast, wind and glad-handing. But, sadly, it is indicative of this man's whole career thus far. Make with the soothing speech and then vote hard line, leftist anyway.

Lastly, I'd wonder exactly who Barack Obama imagines is up to the task of writing this "new" declaration? Where are the Thomas Jeffersons today? For that matter, where are the Gouverneur Morrises to spruce up the draft in a committee of style? I would submit that we have no such men up to the task today. Certainly Barack Obama doesn't fit the bill, his delusion of being the next Abraham Lincoln notwithstanding.

© Warner Todd Huston


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Warner Todd Huston

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