Born mid-Truman, I long considered LBJ to have been the worst U.S. president of my lifetime. He presided over the escalation in Vietnam (against his better judgment, of course) and the War on Poverty. His was an average intellect banging around inside an ego bigger than Texas.
Then, after he sobered up, along came W., and we saw daily prayer in the White House and an economy built on sand. His gross overreaction to the terrorist attacks almost bled the country dry in more ways than one, so make room, Lyndon, you've got company.
And they say three's a crowd, but Obama duly completes an ignominious troika. He's fully committed to Big Government, the bigger the better, at a time when we desperately need to downsize. Why doesn't the electorate demand a president who dares to tell my generation, “if you don't really need Social Security or Medicare, kiss 'em goodbye now, not 10 years from now?” Why don't we clamor for leaders with the courage to shut down the Departments of Energy and Education, to privatize the Postal Service and National Public Radio, to slash foreign aid?
If we borrow 41 cents for every dollar spent, we should cut government spending by 41 percent, now. That would eliminate the annual deficit, but it wouldn't even dent the accumulated debt of $16 trillion. For that we need decades of big surpluses. Meanwhile, our national profligacy has earned us not a fiscal cliff but a fiscal abyss, not another recession but another Great Depression.
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I suspect that our K-12 public education system is a root cause of an electorate woefully unprepared to fulfill the civic duty anticipated by Jefferson and Madison, not to mention a culture that severely distracts people from the reality they apparently find unpalatable. And voting for the lesser of two evils just won't cut it anymore, so registered sheep shouldn't be congratulating themselves.
Among politicians, it's not Obama's narcissism that distinguishes, it's his cowardice. But once again the country has fallen for lofty rhetoric and a big smile. Tocqueville warned that “a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.” If the average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years, we're already on borrowed time.
The writer lives in Pawleys Island.