April 2009

Let’s review President Obama’s foreign policy achievements so far.

  • The prime minister of our staunchest and most important ally received from the Obamas, upon his visit to the states, the following heartfelt gift:  a complete boxed set of “Star Wars” DVDs.  Apparently, Costco was plum out of Joe Bob’s Barbeque Sauce.  No matter.  Gordon Brown, who – it is widely known – loathes seeing movies anyway, can use them for coasters.
  • Mr. Obama’s new policy of “openness” toward Iran made such a profound impression upon the lunatic Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that he delivered a rather open speech of his own at a United Nations anti-racism conference (no, the U.N. has no sense of irony), which included the following conciliatory remarks:

After World War II, they [the western powers] resorted to military aggression to make an entire nation homeless on the pretext of Jewish suffering, and they sent migrants from Europe and the United States in order to establish a totally racist government in the occupied Palestine…they helped bring to power the most cruel and repressive racist regime in Palestine.

  • Defying 233 years of American protocol, forged in the blood of our countrymen after our split from Great Britain, the President of the United States bowed before a foreign king, and a Middle Eastern potentate at that.
  • Mrs. Obama hit it off so well with Queen Elizabeth that she placed her hand on the Queen’s back while chatting her up.  Unless you were born and raised at McMurdo Station, you are aware that touching the Queen is something that one simply does not do.  The White House Protocol Department jumped right on this, however, and vowed that any future contact with foreign royalty would involve absolutely no touching whatsoever.  Only bowing.
  • Mr. Obama’s visit with the socialist tyrant Hugo Chavez included a friendly handshake and cheerful acceptance of a copy of Open Veins of Latin America:  Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent, an anti-American book written by a leftist ideologue, who blames the United States for the chronic and often colossal failures of basket-case Latin American countries like Mr. Chavez’s Venezuela.  Obama defended the handshake and the gift by saying, “It was a nice gesture to give me a book. I’m a reader.”

Here is a thought to ponder:

Paradoxically enough, the release of initiative and enterprise made possible by popular self-government ultimately generates disintegrating forces from within. Again and again after freedom has brought opportunity and some degree of plenty, the competent become selfish, luxury-loving and complacent, the incompetent and the unfortunate grow envious and covetous, and all three groups turn aside from the hard road of freedom to worship the Golden Calf of economic security. The historical cycle seems to be:  From bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to apathy; from apathy to dependency; and from dependency back to bondage once more.

It is a quotation from a speech by Henning Webb Prentis, Jr., delivered to the National Conference Board on March 18, 1943, and was most likely the speaker’s original work.  However, the second half of the paragraph has been variously attributed to Alexander Tytler, Benjamin Disraeli, Arnold Toynbee, and R. G. LeTourneau, among others.  Loren Collins has written an interesting report on his research into the mystery of this quote and its cousin, which is often found together with the Prentis quote:

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.

No matter who, the author was both insightful and prescient.  Prentis, writing in the 1940s, believed the United States was closing in on the apathy stage.  Apathy?  Give me a break.  That’s soooo 20th century.  We blew past that years ago.  In a later speech delievered in 1946, Prentis adds two stages:  complacency (between selfishness and apathy) and fear (between apathy and dependence).  Thank you, Mr. Prentis; you have now defined us.  The United States populace, as a whole, organizes its whole life around fear.  Fear of economic downturn.  Fear of losing a job.  Fear that the water won’t be safe to drink.  Fear that children will be poisoned by Chinese lead.  Fear that the savings will be insufficient for retirement.  Fear that McDonalds might be unhealthy.  Fear that a big financial firm might pay a bonus.  An endless and pedantic list.  Fear is now wielded with extreme effectiveness to justify the most outlandish governmental regulations, intrusions into private transactions, and restrictions on economic activity that would have been unthinkable even 50 years ago.

Fear has enabled politicians to gleefully triple the national debt (CBO estimate, March 2009) as a sacrifice to the god of perpetual economic security and stability.  But this god is deceitful.  He is simply tempting us into Mr. Prestis’ final, fatal, inevitable stage.  The only possible way to thwart it is to expunge the poison of fear and purposefully redirect our faith away from government and toward the one who truly deserves it, the God who by his providence has allowed liberty to flourish for 230 years.