The President once introduced himself to a crowd in Berlin in 2008 as a “fellow citizen of the world.” Now some European commentators from across the pond are speaking out, dumbfounded by the direction that President Barack Obama is taking the United States.
Janet Daley wrote a blistering column for The Daily Telegraph over the weekend entitled “Barack Obama is trying to make the US a more socialist state.” In the piece, Daley writes that the days of the world looking to the United States for leadership are over:
“Barack Obama is now putting the United States squarely a decade behind Britain. Listening to the President’s State of the Union message last week was like a surreal visit to our own recent past: there were, almost word for word, all those interminable Gordon Brown Budgets that preached ‘fairness’ while listing endless new ways in which central government would intervene in every form of economic activity.
Later, in a television interview, Mr Obama described his programme of using higher taxes on the wealthy to bankroll new government spending as ‘a recipe for a fair, sound approach to deficit reduction and rebuilding this country.’ To which we who come from the future can only shout, ‘No‑o-o, go back! Don’t come down this road!’”
Daley goes on to criticize the President’s “childlike conception of fairness,” pointing out that when you breakdown the redistribution of wealth from entrepreneurial activity to public spending, the effects are much more complex and perverse than the President would suggest:
“There is, it turns out, a huge difference between being provided with a livelihood and feeling that you have earned it. The assumption that all the wealth that individuals create belongs, by moral right, to the state, to spend on benefits or phoney job creation schemes (sorry, public infrastructure projects), is proving phenomenally difficult to expunge in Britain, so ineradicably has it embedded itself in the public consciousness.
In the US, it has had only odd historical moments of favour (Roosevelt’s New Deal, Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society”), which have been beaten back consistently by the dynamism of a country that sees its existential purpose as being to foster and promote individual achievement and self-belief. It is bizarre that Obama should be regarded (or should regard himself) as a kind-of European who is trying to bring a sophisticated kind-of socialism to American economic life, complete with government-run health care and “fair” (high) taxes on the wealthy. If his European credentials were up to date, he would know that this was precisely the social model that is causing the EU to implode, and whose hopeless contradictions the best economic minds on the Continent are attempting, unsuccessfully, to resolve.”
After describing the President’s attachment to the “left-liberal dream, which still survives in small pockets of American life,” Daley concludes that if the United States ceases to stand by its constitution and political institutions specifically designed to prevent the government from oppressing the rights of the individual citizen, it will make a stupid mistake and “suffer a catastrophic loss of purpose and identity.”