Patterico's Pontifications

1/18/2009

A More Perfect Union

Filed under: Obama — DRJ @ 10:00 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Martin Luther King may have had a dream but Barack Obama has a theme: He wants to make America a more perfect union. He’s mentioned it twice in two days, and I think it will reappear in the coming days and in his Inaugural Address.

For example, Obama invoked this theme yesterday as he traveled by train from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C.:

“Starting now, let’s take up in our own lives the work of perfecting our union,” Obama said. “Let’s build a government that is responsible to the people, and accept our own responsibilities as citizens to hold our government accountable.

“Let’s all of us do our part to rebuild this country,” he said, with words that clearly point to the theme that will emerge from his inauguration as the 44th president on Tuesday. “Let’s make sure this election is not the end of what we do to change America, but the beginning.”

In addition, in an article in today’s Parade Magazine, Obama touched on this theme in a letter to his daughters in which he explains why he ran for President: Because he wants to make America a better place for his daughters and all children. The letter deals with America’s imperfections, and nowhere is that more obvious than in this section where Obama talks about what he learned from his mother:

“She helped me understand that America is great not because it is perfect but because it can always be made better-and that the unfinished work of perfecting our union falls to each of us. It’s a charge we pass on to our children, coming closer with each new generation to what we know America should be.”

Obama’s letter is a litany of things people want but he implies few have — things like puppies, good schools, clean air, and peace — and he encourages his daughters (and others) to right wrongs as their highest calling. It’s not a letter encouraging children to work diligently at their careers, it’s a letter telling them to make a difference in their neighbor’s lives. The latter sounds nice but the former is more useful advice, for them and for America.

America will never be perfect and although it’s good to work at making it better, it’s also good to recognize why America has succeeded. Americans didn’t succeed by perfecting their neighbor’s lives; they succeeded by working hard to provide for their families.

I’m always surprised and disheartened when some liberals see America as a glass half empty rather than a glass half full. (I wish they could see it as a land brimming with opportunity.) I know liberals can feel optimism about America because recent media reports depict a resurgence of that feeling since Obama’s election, but I don’t understand how they can measure America’s worth in different ways depending on who is President.

— DRJ

66 Responses to “A More Perfect Union”

  1. Apparently the comments for this post were turned off most of the day and I didn’t notice. That happens occasionally when I click the wrong button as I write the post but I’ve corrected it now.

    DRJ (345e40)

  2. Yes, Gordon Gecko approves of your post. Greed and self-interest are America’s best qualities

    timb (8f04c0)

  3. Baracky’s mom loved making America better so much she determined to live as far away from it as she could and ball foreigners.

    happyfeet (4eacbc)

  4. Determined to live as far away from her drug-addled son as she could, too. That’s the passing on to our children part.

    happyfeet (4eacbc)

  5. Capitalism is the only system of resource allocation which is fair to the group and the individual.

    What is does need is a Gov.t with fair rules that don’t favor entrenched oligarchs over upstarts….. which is where the problem being with our Gov.t as we speak.

    Da'Shiznit (df1dcc)

  6. Obama says, “Let’s build a government that is responsible to the people, and accept our own responsibilities as citizens to hold our government accountable.”

    Didn’t Obama nominate a tax cheat to head the Treasury Department?

    Lily (9d9b60)

  7. Timb, you could always move to the USSR… oh, that’s right, that wealth-distribution scheme collapsed.

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  8. timb gives us the socialist viewpoint. Stalin approves of his comment.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  9. timb,

    Self-interest is a highly reliable quality, akin to the Darwinian theory liberals love. Greed isn’t that bad either.

    DRJ (345e40)

  10. and he encourages his daughters (and others) to right wrongs as their highest calling.

    Obama certainly faced corruption head-on with the Strogers and then Blago. And what did he do? He turned to run. He chose not to be a reformer, but to instead leech off their corrupt connections and move up, up, up.

    Obama has a galling and condescending way of wording everything in goodness and streams of light. Especially the smarmy stuff.

    Vermont Neighbor (ab0837)

  11. “Self-interest is a highly reliable quality, akin to the Darwinian theory liberals love.”

    DRJ – Liberals love to talk about equality of outcome as opposed to equality of opportunity, but that equality of opportunity BS is for the liberal proletariat, not the liberal elites. How would the elites pay for their dachas and private jets if equality of opportunity really did apply to everyone. Liberal Hypocrisy 101, do what I do, not what I say.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  12. That’s the liberal truth: they love that perfect America that lives only in their imagination. OTOH I love our values, our founding principles, and our generous, self-reliant countrymen.

    What will it be like to have a man who doesn’t particularly like his people or his country run the government? As Hotair headlined, “Does he even like us?”

    Patricia (89cb84)

  13. Didn’t Obama nominate a tax cheat to head the Treasury Department?
    Comment by Lily — 1/18/2009 @ 3:45 pm

    Now that you mention it, oh, jeez.

    I’m still trying to accept the notion that the guy who’ll soon be sitting in the Oval Office really doesn’t care for — really and sincerely rejects — the philosophy spouted off by his former preacher and close advisor, Jeremiah Wright (not to mention a few others).

    Mark (411533)

  14. The Obama Years: an endless stream of platitudes targeted to the historically ignorant and gullible.

    JVW (bff0a4)

  15. Read the article about O’s speech today about how we need a new Declaration of Independent and a new Constitution!

    O calls for new founding documents

    The comments are priceless; apparently there are still people alive who have actually read both documents, understand them, and would like to retain them as is.

    Patricia (89cb84)

  16. JVW,

    Excellent point.

    Da'Shiznit (df1dcc)

  17. Well, Patricia, Obama is nothing if not impeccably Continental (in the European definition) in style and attitude. No doubt he thinks we should be like France and rewrite our Constitution every time a new government comes into power (or, at least, one as hip and enlightened as his own).

    I say go ahead and convene your Constitutional Convention, Dear Leader. Those citizens who voted for you despite having some doubts can finally see the true depth to your narcissism, and hopefully this will go over about as well as Roosevelt’s court-packing plan.

    JVW (bff0a4)

  18. At what point do people wake up? He’s as red as a clown’s nose.

    Read the article about O’s speech today about how we need a new Declaration of Independent and a new Constitution!

    O calls for new founding documents

    This SOB has a bigger ego than Simon Cowell.

    Vermont Neighbor (ab0837)

  19. O calls for new founding documents

    That direct link doesn’t work, so for a moment I actually thought you possibly were referencing an anti-Obama, anti-Democrat-Party and perhaps overly partisan web-site article. (See, even I’m willing to give some amount of benefit of the doubt to our upcoming president)

    But, oh, damn, it actually appears that the innate leftist sentiments of the new occupant of the Oval Office are there right below the surface, possibly ready to spring out at a moment’s notice.

    You know, I may have to start believing Obama really doesn’t repudiate Jeremiah Wright’s “goddamn America” philosophy.

    What’s even more pathetic and laughable is that when our new president scolds his listeners about “prejudice and bigotry,” I bet he isn’t thinking of people like Wright. No, I bet he’s thinking mainly of, say, Sarah Palin or “small-town America.”

    dcexaminer.com:

    President-elect Barack Obama capped the first day of his inaugural celebration here before a crowd of about 40,000 people by calling for a “new Declaration of Independence” and a return to the idealism of 1776.

    At the climactic stop of his 137-mile train trip that began in Philadelphia, passed through Wilmington, Del. and was to end at Washington’s Union Station, Obama spoke of the need to recapture the spirit of the American revolution. “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…” he said

    Mark (411533)

  20. Given some of the doom and gloom predictions from some conservatives about an Obama administration I don’t see much difference with your observation about liberals. To hear the predictions it would seem the bottom has been cut out of the glass.
    Worse yet, some of the doom and gloom predictors leave the distinct impression that they almost relish the idea of a failed Obama presidency and weakened America. Just as distasteful as the euphoric announcements of “3000”, “4000” troops killed milestones by the anti-war protestors.

    voiceofreason2 (f237cf)

  21. Obama, the first African American elected president, made what appeared to be a reference to slavery, calling the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence “documents that were imperfect but had within them, like our nation itself, the capacity to be made more perfect.”

    That’s the quote. It’s pure speculation he was talking about slavery–this is boilerplate leftist professor talk.

    I don’t think he cares about foreign policy–if Iraq is going well, he’ll stay. His real aim is to transform America through his mass movement into something more “perfect,” something more socialistic, humbled.

    Patricia (89cb84)

  22. VOR2,

    When George Bush was President, many liberals viewed America as less of a nation because of his actions on FISA, interrogations, and detentions. Even if everything Bush did was wrong, how does that translate into America being a flawed nation? And how could Obama’s Presidency redeem it?

    DRJ (345e40)

  23. ‘“documents that were imperfect but had within them, like our nation itself, the capacity to be made more perfect.”’

    Even people near the founding quickly found imperfection the constitution. The 11th amendment came in 1795.

    imdw (4fe3dc)

  24. DRJ: some liberals see America as a glass half empty rather than a glass half full

    — Some? SOME??? Ahem. By definition, believing that the ONLY way to make life better for the citizenry is to have the govt, w/ it’s supreme power (the law) to control how we live, manage as many aspects of our lives as possible . . . THAT is a perpetual “glass half-empty” belief.

    Icy Texan (b7d162)

  25. Comment by DRJ — 1/18/2009 @ 10:08 pm

    Just as many conservatives did when Clinton was president and are opining is going to be the case with Obama as president. In either case it is the idealogues of the left and right who make these kind of statements.
    Since I (a) don’t believe that America is a flawed nation and (b) have supported Bush more than many in his own party, I am the wrong person to ask how Obama is supposed to redeem it.

    voiceofreason2 (f237cf)

  26. One of the repeated notes that Martin Luther King, Jr. hit was the idea that the USA should deliver what it promised. This was the concept that America the idea is great but the implementation needs to be perfected.

    I’m actually pretty surprised that this claim, which Obama echoes, was in any way controversial. Even the founding fathers wrote that the Constitution depends on its citizens being virtuous people. Since we are all flawed, it should come as no surprise that the American experience is striving to make our country the place that we claim it is.

    Seriously, DRJ, I know you didn’t vote for Obama, but getting all bitchy over what is a self-evident statement by Obama, particularly during some hard times, makes you seem petty.

    Tyro (da008d)

  27. Tyro,
    No one argues that we should not live up to the Constitution, interpreting it to problems of the day, not changing it. What Obama, and most liberal law professors, argue is that the Constitution is a “living” document to be changed and refashioned according to the fads of the day. I agree more with Scalia, who says it is a dead document. We live up to its principles, not the reverse.

    Patricia (89cb84)

  28. ……….but I don’t understand how they (Liberals) can measure America’s worth in different ways depending on who is President.

    DRJ,

    I can’t understand how you don’t consider a current Commander In Chief’s guidance as part of “America’s worth”.

    We elected him, he or she represents us for at most 4 to 8 years (Thank Republicans for that brilliant term limit)(Seriously thanking)

    Oiram (983921)

  29. Obama got into politics to “right wrongs”?

    Wow, he really cleaned up Chicago and Illinois politics didn’t he? That’s one smashing success of corruption busting.

    Techie (6b5d8d)

  30. Libs see glass as half empty? Also polluted and aggravated by disproportionate American AGW.

    I was watching the initial cruise missile attack on Saddam’s Baghdad royal palaces. A friend’s moonbat wife was going apoplectic at scenes of destruction. First words out of her mouth were that Bush was satan and needed to be impeached, judged by World Court and hanged forthwith.

    I was not surprised. She and her fellow travelers insisted that we have no right to judge Muslim cultural norms when I suggested the NOW feminazi crowd didn’t give a rat’s asp about Arab women’s rights. It seems it is up to THOSE women to facilitate change if they aren’t happy with their society.

    Of course everything the Clintons did was just wonderful. Bubba was responsible for the great wealth generated during the internet high tech bubble. There was no horrible 911 attack under Clinton and bj’s by young underling Monica did not constitute sex. She became irate when I then suggested it would be ok for her spouse to receive that non-sex act by another woman. Told me to “feck off”. Liberals really are such hypocrites. Oh, and they mostly see the Jooooos as greedy SOBs abusing the Muslims of the world.
    And then too, Algore was robbed and the electoral college thwarted true democracy, just as SCOTUS selected Dubya over the rightful winner algore.
    Geez, as much as I abhor the likes of algore or lurch, I wonder what dynamics would have played out had either gore or lurch been Potus? How would either have pursued the global war on terror? Would Lieberman have been the standard bearer in ’08 had Gore survived 8 years in Oral Office?

    What will be the consequences if there is a successful wmd attack on a large American city or cities? What power would Barry grab, how much would we suffer then? What if someone took out the One? How bad and how long would the riots last? Is it possible that Barry won’t dance with the partners who brought him to WH? Moveon.org, the Daley machine, George Soros? Now that he is potus, will the quest for reelection begin with alacrity, raising more in illegal donations? Why should we think he will even make an effort to continue what Pelosi started with the “most ethical Congress” in history? Looks like that Treasury dude will be confirmed with enthusiastic GOP support. Anyone can make a mistake(s)? Princess Caroline is all set to move to the US Senate.

    What say you, libtards? Enlighten the rest of us who have our deep doubts? Why does O! arouse you sexually? Why do you delight in being Obots and relish the cult of The One? Remember it is all about fairness and everyone is equal, except some (algore, lurch, the Breck Girl, Fat Teddy, Huffington and that type of limo lib) are more equal.

    aoibhneas (0c6cfc)

  31. I have no idea how our new President proposes to change the Declaration of Independence, but as to the Constitution, there are prescribed ways to alter it which have been used many times in our history.
    It would not be wise to call for a Convention, as such a gathering could not be limited in the scope of its’ actions, and we could end up with a complete re-writing of the document that could precipitate a major political crisis, such as we have only seen once before.

    AD (c9522d)

  32. Comment by aoibhneas — 1/19/2009 @ 10:01 am

    great post. Mark Steyn wrote yes, expect continued illegal fundraising, more Acorn ahead, etc. re the next election.

    Vermont Neighbor (ab0837)

  33. “It’s pure speculation he was talking about slavery–this is boilerplate leftist professor talk.”

    Yeah. Only leftist professors think that slavery was an imperfection. Unlike all you regular joes.

    imdw (a81897)

  34. What a way to misinterpret a statement and then twist the misinterpretation into an unbelievable straw-man caricature.

    GG imdw

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  35. “What a way to misinterpret a statement and then twist the misinterpretation into an unbelievable straw-man caricature.”

    Well then what does it mean? Most people recognize slavery as one of the imperfections we’ve fixed in our country.

    imdw (05d41e)

  36. Yet you continue to misrepresent statements to fit your agenda and your methodology in attacking statements that were not made.

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  37. imdw seems to be the screenwriter for “Hellboy 3: The Army of Strawmen”

    SPQR (72771e)

  38. Slavery was an age-old, and World-wide phenomenon at the time of the founding, and still exists in many parts of the World today.
    Yes, we “fixed” that imperfection, at the cost of 600K+ lives, and countless years of political struggle, both before, and after, the fix.
    Slavery is not our “unique” problem, but it seems ignorance might be.

    AD (c9522d)

  39. Multiple-Guess Test

    imdw is

    A) incapable of understanding statements.
    B) incapable of debating based on the facts at hand.
    C) unwilling to properly restate premises accurately to form his arguments.
    D) a perfect example of a shill.
    E) All of the above.

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  40. imdw,

    Slavery is a good example of my point. The United States has a system that helped end slavery. The institution of slavery is what’s imperfect, not the nation and laws that helped end it.

    DRJ (345e40)

  41. Does anyone have the text of Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s sermon at Howard University yesterday? My guess is that he was probably a little bit more explicit about his thoughts about a more perfect inion than his former star pupil.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  42. Do we really have four years ahead of us where you guys hang on every Obama rhetorical flourish and accuse him of using it to usher in….well, I’m not sure what the nightmare you imagine, since you aren’t troubled by enhanced government power when it comes to shooting illegal aliens, listening to my phone without a warrant, or locking away American citizens without Constitutional protections, etc. Perhaps, you fear the “repression” of a tax rate equal to the 1990’s tax rate (the hooorrrrooorrrr).

    At any rate, DRJ, your grasp of history is as sure-handed as your fear of the President-elect. The “perfect” document of our Constitution mentions and protects slavery. It took three Amendments to excise slavery from the Constitution, the perfect “dead” document you and Justice Scalia think you know. I thought it needed an Amendment against the terror of gays getting married….some perfect document.

    With two wars and a massive recession, it’s just shocking the new President would call for a new social compact, unlike, for instance, America’s favorite Presidents (Lincoln, FDR, Reagan). It’s just SO unprecedented.

    timb (2add5b)

  43. Ah, everything Obama says is a “rhetorical flourish”…. how enlightening.

    SPQR (72771e)

  44. timb – Can you prove your phone was listened to or are you just wetting your pants?

    What American citizens are you describing that were kept in indefinite detention?

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  45. daleyrocks, good thing that timb wasn’t around for FDR’s administration, eh? He’d have fouled his breeches.

    SPQR (72771e)

  46. At any rate, DRJ, your grasp of history is as sure-handed as your fear of the President-elect.

    What an accidental truth (albeit with a single dysphemism). Since DRJ’s grasp of history is much stronger than nearly every leftist, her deep concern for the results of an Obama Presidency are most definitely fact-based.

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  47. SPQR – Reading comprehension is not one of timmah’s strong points either.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  48. “…It took three Amendments to excise slavery…”
    Perhaps from the Constitution, but not from American life. That took the lives of 600K+ Americans, the rest was just epilogue.
    Your knowledge of history is as deficient as your knowledge of … well, just about everything.

    AD (c9522d)

  49. timb,

    Did we have to abolish the Constitution to abolish slavery?

    DRJ (345e40)

  50. “The United States has a system that helped end slavery. ”

    Are you referring to constitutional amendments or to civil war?

    “Did we have to abolish the Constitution to abolish slavery?”

    I’ve heard some confederate apologists point to unconstitutional actions by Lincoln. I’ve also heard the argument that the secession was constitutional.

    imdw (e10198)

  51. Did we have to abolish the Constitution to abolish slavery?

    No. To abolish slavery and segregation, we had to force America to deliver on the promises of its ideals.

    The ideals of the founding fathers were just that — ideals, and those ideals existed underneath a truly flawed implementation of them. Two centuries of struggles were spent demanding that the United States deliver on its promises. To claim that the United States offered anything other than a flawed implementation of what it claimed to believe in is shear ignorance.

    The institution of slavery is what’s imperfect, not the nation and laws that helped end it.

    Wait, what about the laws and system that protected slavery? Were they perfect or imperfect?

    DRJ, your criticism of Obama’s viewpoint smacks of a deep immaturity on your part. You’re like a first grader screeching because someone said your daddy wasn’t the strongest man in the whole wide world.

    Tyro (354302)

  52. I think the link to the DC Examiner is here.

    As for the Constitution, it is a dead document & should be so. Amendments should be made through the process outlined in the Constitution & not through the evolution of meaning. (The sheer idiocy of people who argue that “promote the general welfare” means “welfare benefits for everyone” is a case in point.)

    I love my country but fear my government, not because it is more evil than anyone, but because even when it acts incompetent & foolish it has the power to rid me of income and life. My government fails to be my servant and instead desires ever more strongly to be my master, all in the name of “what’s good for me.”

    steve miller (3381bc)

  53. The laws in place in the Constitution give us ways to amend the Constitution & to enforce the Constitution, so yes, it’s perfect (complete) in that way.

    Does it bring about the glorious Kingdom of God where everyone has a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage? No, but for what it strives to do, it achieves. And for cases where the American people discover areas where the Constitution is silent it offers methods to amend it. No umbrellas required, because there are not penumbrations.

    steve miller (3381bc)

  54. “You’re like a first grader screeching because someone said your daddy wasn’t the strongest man in the whole wide world.”

    Tyro – It seems like all the screeching and immaturity is coming frim your comments. Would you have been happier without the 3/5 person compromise originally so that the slave owning states could have rammed through any legislation they wanted? Think about what you are saying before spewing the comment, kid.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  55. Tyro,

    I’m sensitive when people criticize my country unfairly. If that’s grade school, so be it.

    As for American laws and slavery, I’ll let Frederick Douglass answer that:

    “I hold that the Federal Government was never, in its essence, anything but an anti-slavery government. Abolish slavery tomorrow, and not a sentence or syllable of the Constitution need be altered. It was purposely so framed as to give no claim, no sanction to the claim, of property in a man. If in its origin slavery had any relation to the government, it was only as the scaffolding to the magnificent structure, to be removed as soon as the building was completed.”

    DRJ (345e40)

  56. Wait a minute, Daley. You’re suggesting that those anti-slave conservative northerners were racist in not giving “full humanhood” to those southern slaves and only conceded to a 3/5 humanhood to appease the non-racist slave-holding liberal southerners. I think you defeated… umm, something.

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  57. John – I might be confuzzled on it. I thought it was so the South wouldn’t overwhelm the North in representation in Congress.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  58. I was amused at the person who tried to fence with you, DRJ. I mean, given the definition of the term “tyro.”

    I liked you quoting Frederick Douglass. I find that many of the students (and professors!) on my campus most concerned with diversity issues have never read Douglass. Heck, I doubt they could tell me in what decade the Civil War was fought, let alone why it began.

    Many years ago, I was chatting with the president of my then-college, an African American of the Old School (that is, he had taken courses in rhetoric and sounded like James Earl Jones). He brought up the multiculturalists on campus, and the way that they were not interested in working constructively so much as protesting things and cursing (or so it seemed at the time).

    Some people, he told me, would rather have a cause than an effect.

    Then he offered me a cigar, and laughed when I looked shocked. A funny, great man.

    Eric Blair (3e2520)

  59. John – ‘Cause you know we were gonna hold off as long as we could lettin’ them darkies and wimmins vote.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  60. Eric – Bring on some Jesuits to debate with them. The issue doesn’t matter.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  61. Eric – You just described the “Cause-heads” on PCU.

    JD (403bd4)

  62. JD, I taught at PCU. Sheesh.

    Eric Blair (3e2520)

  63. Where I used to teach, there was a special program for short contract professors, just finishing their postdocs. It was reserved for “underrepresented groups.”

    A person I knew got the job. She was Cuban. Her father had fled Castro, and built a great life for his family.

    The person I knew was given a terrible time because, and I am not making this up, she wasn’t “dark enough.”

    Eric Blair (3e2520)

  64. One Hispanic professor said, and I am not making this up, that the person I knew didn’t “…pass the brown paper bag test…”

    Eric Blair (3e2520)

  65. Eric – I liked the scene where they threw raw hamburger on the vegetarian cause-heads.

    JD (403bd4)


Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.4452 secs.