WILL WE SACRIFICE THE NATION?
I suspect that come November 6, Sandy will have very little impact on Americans’ choice for President. The underlying dynamics are too powerful and constant over the last four years. By election day, nature’s horrible storm will have receded into memory behind the greater, ever present reality of a man-made storm, the dire debt crisis threatening to destroy the nation, and of a President who has been entirely derelict in addressing that crisis. Will Americans sacrifice the entire nation for the sake of one man?
The momentum in favor of Romney continues to capture not only independents but also a large number of those who form what I have previously termed a new American majority: Republicans, libertarians, disaffected conservative Democrats, disaffected Catholics, and disaffected Jews. The shift to Romney is also coming from Democrats previously taken for granted by Obama. That dynamic in favor of Romney will likely culminate in tomorrow’s election. Then, as massive numbers turn out to vote and as each American stares at the ballot, he or she will necessarily ask whether the nation should trust a President with four more years who has squandered the last four, doing nothing in the midst of a fiscal crisis to save the nation from ruin.
Sandy’s refocus of national attention away from the campaign likely had the effect of preserving the camps for Romney and for Obama but the underlying dynamic of the economy continues to push those capable of being persuaded to move in Romney’s direction. Consequently, I suspect that to the extent Sandy had any impact it has been to deny President Obama an opportunity to change the dynamic during that time.
Despite all of the media fawning over Obama and his political machine, the ugly reality of that machine is revealing itself to more and more Americans. Obama overplayed his hand. His campaign early attempted to vilify Romney as a callous rich man whose concern for America ended with those whose annual incomes top seven figures. That superficial Obama portrayal conflicts with Romney’s record as a Bishop who spent over five years in devoted service to a congregation and community, oftentimes at considerable personal expense but without seeking public recognition and without complaint. That Obama portrayal conflicts with Romney’s history of providing personal funds to pay for the college tuition of bright but financially destitute young people who otherwise could not afford to go to school, and for countless acts of charity, including at the bedside of the dying and in aid of the elderly. That Obama portrayal conflicts with Romney’s history of contributing 10% of his annual income for beneficent works. That Obama portrayal we now know was a petty lie demeaning of the office of the President and revealing of the dishonest character of Obama.
The danger of overplaying your hand when you act with malice to attack the character of your opponent is that the effort will boomerang, and that is precisely the bitter harvest Obama may well reap tomorrow. While Obama campaign chiefs Axelrod and Cutter keep up the drum beat of false accusations against the character of Romney, the public has largely come to recognize the attacks for what they are: base efforts at character assassination. While a challenger to the President may be excused for momentary lapses into excesses of that kind, the same privilege we do not afford Presidents (who we expect to rise above the common). If the President of the United States attacks the character of an American citizen, including that of his political challenger, the President falls from grace and from greatness. He becomes pedestrian. Remarkably Axelrod and Cutter fail to appreciate that fact, because repeatedly in this campaign not only his surrogates but also Obama himself have communicated the message of character assassination.
When the oval office tapes of President Nixon became public, the realization that the President used foul language, was anti-semitic, and was willing to lie to the American people destroyed the mystique surrounding his presidency, a mystique that he absolutely had to have to govern. In a less dramatic but equally devastating act of self-destruction, President Obama has forgotten that the American people expect him to be of superior, not average, and certainly not of low character. We expect him to tell the truth. We expect him to sacrifice himself, even his political prospects, to save the nation from the greatest crisis facing it, a national debt over $16 trillion, annual deficits in excess of $1 trillion, and a regulatory and welfare state that grows uncontrollably.
When Obama refers to Romney as a “BSer,” he reinforces the perception that Obama is a person of low character. When Obama falsely attacks Romney’s character, Obama likewise achieves that same end. When Obama travels frenetically across the nation and spends the bulk of his speeches presenting a distorted view of Romney’s plan for America instead of championing a detailed plan for restoring American economic prosperity and greatness, Obama again brings himself down.
It is remarkable that despite a year long campaign, neither the President nor his advisors have come to appreciate the basic lesson taught by America’s first President, George Washington. To be loved by the American people, a President must rise from among them to a status of greatness in character, vision, and willingness to sacrifice all for the betterment of the nation. Americans idolize Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Lincoln, and Reagan in no small measure because their personal stature, intellect, calm in a crisis, word choice, and manner combined to distinguish them as truly great precisely because they humbled themselves in complete devotion to the nation. We find Obama not equal to any of those great men because he has never reached beyond his love of self to truly love his country.
He has shied away from leadership. He has responded to political disagreement as if it were a personal affront. He has acted as if he deserved the presidency without having to earn the votes of the American people to serve in that position. In short, he is far too pedestrian to be great, and in this grave economic crisis, he lacks the commitment and willingness to sacrifice self that are indispensable to saving the nation.
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Americans overwhelmingly identify the economy and the national debt as the most important issues facing the nation. Will they turn their backs on their country by voting into office that candidate who has no plan for rescuing the economy and for eliminating the national debt? Will they accept as equal to the enormous challenge facing the nation in the next four years a man who will not even introduce and champion a budget plan capable of freeing the market and cutting the debt? If so, then November 6, 2012 will be a day that will live in infamy, a day in which a nation chose to sacrifice itself for the sake of one man. I think the true patriots among us will rise to the occasion and will not let that happen.