Perhaps the moment is the much earlier one (in the trilogy) when the sword of Elendil is re-forged. OK, OK, I’ll stop.
What I’m suggesting is that we’ve reached a turning point. At PJ Media, Roger Simon asks, “What if it’s all true?” He’s referring to the numerous reports of fact, large and small – some well established, some not – that added together mean “President Barack Obama” is a walking lie of such gargantuan proportions, the human mind can hardly compass it.
Simon doesn’t pretend to have a complete answer to his question, which isn’t whether all the reported facts are true (we don’t know; some seem to be, and the presence of a tower of lies is increasingly evident), but what if they are. What does it mean? How do we bound the proposition so that we can even start answering that?
It’s a good question. We’ll come back to it, but for the moment, the headline is that Roger Simon is finally accepting what has been apparent to others for more than five years: that Obama isn’t a garden-variety hard-left Democrat, but a more exotic and radical quantity, and one we’ve been systematically lied to about.
I say this as a policy critic who doesn’t pretend to know where Obama was born, who has no opinion on who his father was (assuming it was Barack Obama, Sr. is perfectly satisfactory to me), who has never stated it as a certainty that Obama must have passed himself off as a foreign student in college, and who has no idea how many Social Security numbers Obama has used. I haven’t read Jerome Corsi’s book on Obama (or much of anything by Corsi, for that matter); I did read Stanley Kurtz’s Radical-in-Chief, and found it eye-bleedingly well resourced and narrowly argued. (But it was about Obama’s radical associations as a young adult, and not about things that may have been fabrications from his autobiography.)
My point here is that I won’t insist on any particular set of disputed “facts” about Obama, and never have done so, because I simply don’t know – and the important thing is that the facts are so disputable, so ill-disclosed and shrouded in obscurity, and that that is extremely peculiar for a person as public as the president of the United States. We know more things for certain about Vladimir Putin than we know about Obama.
For me, what’s been meaningfully wrong with Obama is this circumstance, plus his thin but telling political history – radical politics followed by Chicago-machine-style politics – plus his and his administration’s penchant for refusing to be bound at any turn by checks, balances, or any other form of accountability. These things have all been there to be detected from the very beginning.
This leads me to one of the first answers to the “What if it’s all true?” question. That answer would be: it means the people who did see the lies – who didn’t refuse to recognize them – were correct. Most of those people are the ones being excoriated today by the old-school right. It’s the “Tea Party” conservatives who saw early on, to the extent of being willing to say something about it, that there was a whole lotta lyin’ goin’ on. Some of them, like Birthers, lost me when they insisted on particular sets of unproven “facts” about Obama. But on the whole, regarding both Obama himself and the rhetoric surrounding public policy in the last five years, they did much better than the higher-browed on the right at recognizing when they were being lied to.
Another answer to the “What if?” question is this one: it means human government can, in fact, be hijacked and perverted – even when we’re the ones who cast the votes on it, and even when the chief executive is brought to power by the means specified in the U.S. Constitution. Yes, we can be deceived. The most highly credentialed among us can be the most deceived of all. This is as good a time as any to take that to heart.
There’s no mechanism that can guarantee government never gets out of control or oversteps its bounds. But all that means is that we’ve had to learn something our Founders already knew. You keep government limited because Obamas happen, and they do the most damage if you’ve carelessly let government’s control over your life grow too much.
Other answers obtrude themselves. “What if it’s all true?” It means the bias of our mainstream media is mind-bendingly colossal. It also means we are paying these media folks, in a voluntary market-based situation, to retail lies to us. We hear lie after lie, and still we listen, as if the next report won’t be a lie, or at least as if it won’t be a biased interpretation of an event we would characterize differently, if we were doing the reporting. Stalin would have marveled at the beauty of it; he had to beat people to a pulp and execute them in mass to get the survivors to do out of terror what we have come to do reflexively, out of habit.
If it’s all true, it means the common sense of too many of us has been severely compromised. Obama isn’t a normal politician; Chuck Schumer and Lindsay Graham are normal politicians. They annoy us because they’re so transparently from the same planet as us. We and they have the same touchstones for fact, meaning, mendacity, excess. Frankly, I suspected back in 2007 that this wasn’t the case with Obama – and then he went to Berlin for his Riefenstahl moment, and set up Grecian columns to frame himself in Denver, and I was sure of it. Common sense enables us to recognize that Obama is an outlier. We don’t have to rethink our comfortably cynical ideas about politics and politicians because of Obama. But quite a few of us probably need to rethink Obama.
There will be a lot of answers to Simon’s “What if”? question. Come up with your own; I know you will. Some very important answers lie ahead of us, if we acknowledge the implication, which Simon alludes to, that the denouement of our march toward statism in the Obama presidency has brought us to a watershed in our national history.
The larger truth is that statist collectivism is the Thing out there that is all about lies. In an important sense, this isn’t about Obama; it’s about what is inevitably involved when an idea of statism seeks to take over our lives. If it hadn’t been the person Barack Obama, it would have been someone else. A bottomless well of lies stretching all the way down to a dark underworld of fear and death is what statist collectivism offers. Few peoples have had the warning period we have, in which to watch a lengthy, surreal panorama of lies unfolding in slow motion while we are still standing aboveground, in the light.
What if it’s all true about Obama? It means we had better be thinking about what we really want as our next chapter. There is great peril before us. But there are also great possibilities. Something is likely to happen that’s not like anything that has happened in our lifetimes. But right, wrong, good, and bad are still the same things they have always been. Personal responsibility and moral choice are still what make or break our lives. A lot of people are turning to God as never before; I doubt that there is anything more important right now than spiritual certainty that He means good for us, and will not cut us adrift to suffer cataclysm without hope.
Americans who didn’t see Obama coming are all due a big dose of humility, and then it will be time to look toward the future we want, and not just the future we think we’re stuck with because of a past that has culminated in a collapsing tower of lies. We’re it, folks. It’s up to us. The one thing that will guarantee failure is if we give up.
J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s “contentions,” Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard online. She also writes for the new blog Liberty Unyielding.