The Right Must Abandon The “Obama Is Evil” Meme

If the Right clings to the belief that President Obama isn't just wrong, but evil, it will likely end up handing the election to him.

National Review’s Kevin Williamson asserts that there’s one issue that truly divides the American right at the moment, and it has to do with how people view the President of the United States, and that for the right to succeed in 2012 and beyond it will need to abandon the view that Barack Obama is some kind of radical out to transform America, because it simply isn’t true:

The most acute division on the right — the one that will give Mitt Romney the most trouble — is not between moderates and hard-core right-wingers, between electability-minded pragmatists and ideologues, or between the Tea Party and the Republican establishment. It is between those Republicans who disagree with Barack Obama, believing his policies to be mistaken, and those who hate Barack Obama, believing him to be wicked. Mitt Romney is the candidate of the former, but is regarded with suspicion, or worse, by the latter. The former group of Republicans would be happy merely to win the presidential election, but the latter are after something more: a national repudiation of President Obama, of his governmental overreach, and of managerial progressivism mainly as practiced by Democrats but also as practiced by Republicans.

It is unlikely that those seeking a national act of electoral penance for having elected Barack Obama are going to get what they are after. For one thing, the number of Americans who believe President Obama to be merely incompetent is far greater than the number of Americans who believe him to be, not to put too fine a point on it, evil. For another, that larger group of voters is, for once, probably right.

The dynamic that Williamson describes strikes me as being a pretty accurate description of the American right’s reaction to Obama, both as President and stretching back to when he was a Presidential candidate. The divisions go back to the 2008 Presidential campaign itself, where we saw much of the conservative press and punditocracy, and on more than a few occasions, the Republican Vice-Presidential nominee, attack Obama as a socialist with ties to radical preachers and 1960s radicals while John McCain spent much of the last month of the campaign struggling to reign in the monster that his campaign and its associated supporters had created, telling one woman in a crowd at one point that no Obama wasn’t a Muslim who wants to destroy America. By the time of the Inauguration, though, it seemed like the demonization meme had won out, as exemplified most fully in Rush Limbaugh’s statement that he hoped the President failed. When some Republicans spoke up to disagree with what Limbaugh was saying, pointing out for example that rooting for the President to fail is akin to rooting for the nation to fail, they found themselves quickly denounced amid the ever-increasing din of anti-Obama fervor. The “Obama as evil” rhetoric increased, of course, after the birth of the Tea Party movement, which often found itself being spoken for by extremist elements who would question the President’s religious faith, his place of birth, and even whether he had actually graduated from Columbia University.

As Williamson notes, none of it was true:

President Obama, for his part, has signed some truly awful pieces of legislation into law: the stimulus package, Cash for Clunkers, and, most notably, Obamacare. Bad as these are, the reaction among some conservatives has been overblown, and I write that as the author of a book that contains the sentence, “Of course Obamacare is socialism.” The president has been described as a budding Hitler, a bush-league Stalin, a saboteur, a revolutionary, etc. But as lamentable as President Obama’s agenda has been, there is not much that is especially remarkable about it. President Obama is not a revolutionary Bolshevik; he is a conventional liberal of a very familiar kind. Obamacare is precisely the same sort of program that a Pres. Al Gore or a Pres. John Kerry might have signed into law. The most remarkable thing about President Obama is that, unlike even the masterly Bill Clinton, he managed to get a big part of the Democrats’ health-care agenda enacted as law. He did this with a major assist from his predecessor, who left him with a much more liberal Congress than might otherwise have been elected.

Additionally, as has been repeated here at OTB and elsewhere many times, several of the most important parts of the Affordable Care Act were based upon ideas that conservative think tanks had been putting forward in the area of health care reform since the early 1990s. To call these ideas radical, or un-American, is simply silly. Bad policy? Yes, personally I happen to think that much of the domestic policy initiative this Administration has enacted have been wrong-headed, but then I felt the same way about many of the policies enacted by the previous (Republican) Administration were similarly wrong-headed. In neither case, though, did I believe that the man in charge was consciously acting in a manner designed to destroy the country. It’s possible for someone to be wrong but still be acting with honorable intentions, and I have no reason to believe that, at their core, Barack Obama and George W. Bush had anything but honorable intentions.

That’s not what the hard-core conservative base of the GOP believes, however. In that world, it isn’t enough to just oppose Obama, you have to want to destroy him and that, Williamson believes, is the real reason that Mitt Romney continues to have a hard to time making peace with that segment of his party:

Mitt Romney’s critique of President Obama is not that of Newt Gingrich, who has borrowed Dinesh D’Souza’s formulation that Obama’s views are grounded in the “Kenyan anti-colonialism” of his estranged father. Nor is it of the “Hitler Believed in Government-Run Health Care, Too” variety one hears among the lesser luminaries of talk radio. Romney’s critique is that Obama is a manager in way over his head, that he does not know what he is doing, and that his attempts to solve problems he does not understand are making things worse. This seems to me the more credible explanation. But if you are the sort of person who believes that President Obama is trying to destroy America, then Romney’s rhetoric is bound to prove unsatisfying, and you will go seeking sterner stuff — from Gingrich, from the cannier Rick Santorum, from also-rans such as Michele Bachmann or future also-rans such as Rick Perry, or from Ron Paul, if that’s your thing. Among my correspondents, there are many who are very plain about the fact that they would rather lose with Gingrich or Santorum than win with Romney.

Of course, Romney himself has bought into parts of the myth during the course of his campaign. He has repeatedly stated, for example, that President Obama has spent the last three years traveling the world “apologizing for America,” a demonstrably untrue statement. For the most part, however, it’s true that Romney has not adopted, and does not seem temperamentally inclined to adopt, the rhetoric of Newt Gingrich. Rather than describing the President as a “socialist,” as Rick Perry did in one recent debate, Romney has, as Williamson notes, described him as someone who is “in over his head.” You also don’t hear Romney repeating Newt Gingrich’s critique of the President as having a “Kenyan anti-colonialist worldview.” On some level, I think Williamson is correct that Romney’s more sober criticism of President Obama is one of the reasons that some conservatives reject him. Since he has not brought the red meat to the debate the way Perry, Gingrich, and Santorum have, it just reinforces the perception that Roney isn’t conservative enough.

Politically, it strikes me that conservatives would be making a huge mistake if they rejected the Romney argument in November in favor of the more fire-and-brimestone rhetoric of Newt Gingrich and the other candidates. While it may help rally the base, there’s substantial evidence that it has the opposite effect in a General Election. When she was speaking on her on during the 2008 campaign, for example, Sarah Palin did a fine job of hitting the President on the themes that resonate with the “Obama is evil” crowd. Her stump speeches and television appearances would frequently be peppered with references to Bill Ayers and Obama’s ties to “radicals” in Chicago. If you watched the polls, though, there was absolutely no evidence that any of this was resonating with the public. In fact, it seems to have turned off independent voters in states like Virginia, North Carolina, and Indiana, which had each been reliably Republican for decades. If the strategy didn’t work in 2008 when then-Senator Obama was still a relative unknown, what makes conservatives think that it would work in 2012 after three years of  President Obama in the White House?

Williamson closes with some advice for his fellow conservatives:

For conservatives, it is a question of whether we choose a president based on who he is or based on what he can do. Those conservatives who believe that the way forward is to nominate the anti-Obama hold that Americans are so fed up with the president that they are ready to elevate a hardcore ideologue to the presidency. Andy McCarthy is representative of them when he writes that Gingrich is a “plausible candidate this time around, when in many cycles he would not be, because the main issue is Obama’s radicalism — the president has people frightened enough that what would appear to be insurmountable baggage in some elections could be cancelled out this time around.” But who are these frightened Americans for whom “the main issue” in 2012 is going to be Obama’s so-called radicalism? (And what do we call the 35 percent of Americans who support a Canadian-style single-payer health-care system? Insurgents?) Are we so sure of their support? In what states do they live, and why do they fail to show up in the polling data, which consistently find that voters’ main concerns are the economy, jobs, and related issues?

As the original campaign consultant put it, the critical thing in every battle is to know your enemy, to know yourself, and to know the terrain. That means, among other things, refusing to tell yourself fairy tales about how everybody is really on your side and just waiting to discover the fact.

Mitt Romney has a chance to beat Obama, but he’s not going to do it if the GOP and the conservative punditocracy makes 2012 about how evil Barack Obama supposedly is. If he wins, he will win for the same reason that Ronald Reagan did in 1980, because they made the election about the management ability of the incumbent, and the public decided they’d had enough. You can’t do that if you’re so consumed by hatred for that incumbent that you can’t see clearly. It all reminds me of President Nixon’s final words to his White House Staff on August 9, 1974, “[A}lways remember, others may hate you, but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.” The Obama hatred that the right has been wrapped up in for three years will not win an election, but it could end up becoming so all-consuming that it ends up destroying them.

Please follow and like us:
FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Campaign 2012, Politicians, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Obama not a radical? Doug Mataconis remains one of the most ignorant pundits on the scene.

  2. Nate Nelson says:

    The problem as I see it is that he is kind of evil, although there are plenty of politicians right there with him. I mean, if you think about it, he’s launching drone strikes across the globe that along with killing their targets are killing a bunch of innocent civilians. He’s in favor of expansions of executive power that might make Emperor Palpatine blush. He declared a war without authorization from Congress and insisted that he had the authority to do so, the constitution notwithstanding. He signed a bill into law that will enable him to indefinitely detain American citizens suspected of terrorism. And on and on and on. I would in fact define all of that as evil.

    Now, you may be right that it’s strategically a better idea for conservatives and libertarians to stop portraying him as evil because people won’t buy it and will be turned off by it. I’m not disagreeing with you there. And it’s not like he’s entirely alone in this; he’s carrying on the legacy of the previous president, a Republican, and is often being assisted by members of Congress from both sides of the aisle. But I would argue that what he’s been doing is evilish, if not outright evil.

  3. Graham says:

    Totally agree with Nate. Obama is evil, but he’s evil for advocating policies that have become the mainstream position of both parties over the last decade, not because he’s some radical, foreign, left-wing ideologue.

  4. mantis says:

    If he wins, he will win for the same reason that Ronald Reagan did in 1980, because they made the election about the management ability of the incumbent, and the public decided they’d had enough. You can’t do that if you’re so consumed by hatred for that incumbent that you can’t see clearly.

    They know they can’t win that argument. Just off the top of my head, let’s look at some management accomplishments that the Obama campaign will highlight.

    – Tax cuts. The stimulus, which was half tax cuts. The payroll tax holiday that Republicans have tried several times to expire. If the economy continues to improve, these targeted tax cuts will be sold as contributing to the recovery.
    – Health care reform. 2.5 million younger people are already insured because of the PPACA, and insurance companies can no longer deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions. These are important, tangible benefits to millions of families. More benefits are on the way or have already started, such as the requirement that 85% of large-group and 80% of small-group premiums be spent on care or refunded.
    – Auto bailout. All three Detroit automakers were profitable and increased their market share in 2011, for the first time since 1988. One or more of them might not even exist if it had not been for the administration’s actions.
    – Foreign Policy. Withdrawal from Iraq as planned. Afghanistan next. Osama bin Laden dead. Al Qaeda leadership nearly wiped out. Limited engagements in Libya and Egypt prove to be non-quagmires.

    If the above makes you think of Jimmy Carter, you don’t live in reality. Obama ain’t Carter, and Romney ain’t Reagan. That dog won’t hunt, but it may be the best shot the GOP has.

  5. mantis says:

    @Matthew Vadum:

    Obama not a radical? Doug Mataconis remains one of the most ignorant pundits on the scene.

    Says the guy who wrote “Registering the Poor to Vote is Un-American.” Take it as a compliment, Doug.

  6. Tillman says:

    If he wins, he will win for the same reason that Ronald Reagan did in 1980, because [he] made the election about the management ability of the incumbent, and the public decided they’d had enough.

    a) Obama, as seen in 2008, is an excellent campaigner and orator. If he wants to say something, he will do so with gusto.
    b) The Republican-controlled House of 2010, on the debt ceiling especially, shit their pants.

    Honestly, I’m not certain how Romney makes the case that Obama has mismanaged the country against a man known for his speechifying and with public records attesting to what he says. Romney sounds like a salesman whenever he talks, while Obama tends to come off statesmanlike, at the very least more of a poetic salesman.

  7. JeffC says:

    @mantis:

    try again …

    the pre-existing condition rules are not yet in effect …

  8. JeffC says:

    @Tillman:

    more like a halting waffler …

  9. Eric says:

    No one has ever became President of the United States with the intention of destroying America.

  10. mantis says:

    the pre-existing condition rules are not yet in effect …

    My mistake, you are right. That rule is only implemented for children under 19. The high-risk pools for adults with pre-existing conditions are in place, though. The full ban goes into effect January 1, 2014.

  11. Rob in CT says:

    @Nate Nelson:

    A perfectly fine libertarian argument. Not a strong Republican argument, though, because (as you properly noted), the GOP is generally just fine with all that evilish stuff.

    If one wants to make the evilish argument honestly, one has to castigate the bipartisan foreign policy/national security establishment putting oneself outside the mainstream of both the major parties. That means either running 3rd party or positioning oneself as an agitator within one seeking radical change of that party (e.g. Ron Paul). Which, in turn, is a lonely road to tread. I like to see it, but I also know that it’s not going to result in winning the 2012 election. Much like I would love to see, say, Russ Feingold decide to go agitator within the Democratic Party on such issues. He wouldn’t win an election, but he might yank the debate in a better direction.

  12. michael reynolds says:

    Wow, I was afraid for a minute we might be getting rationality in Republicanism. Fortunately the above commenters remind me: GOP = Crazy.

    The Obama-as-incompetent also won’t fly, sorry. Not when his opponent is a man whose only claim to fame is that he raped companies and destroyed jobs to enrich himself. Is that what Republicans would mean by “competent?”

    You’ve got an empty suit, a man without a core, unlikable, impossible to love, incapable of generating excitement, a well-oiled weathervane, desperately eager to pander, whose policies are all demonstrated failures.

  13. Gustopher says:

    I’d love to see the New York Times address this with their fact checkers, explaining that while there is no single objective test of evil, there is a vigorous and lively debate among ethicists and theologians on the subject of whether Obama is evil, and that this debate has become politicized.

  14. MBunge says:

    The thing is, though, that Romney’s criticism of Obama being “in over his head” is no more true than saying he’s an evil, socialist Muslim who wasn’t even born in this country. Perhaps Obama’s policies are wrong or incorrect, but the idea that Obama is incompetent or doesn’t know what he’s doing is laugh out loud ridiculous.

    So, why doesn’t Romney simply argue that Obama is wrong? Because then he’s required to say how Obama is wrong and offer up the “right” alternative and the GOP/conservative response to too many of the challenges facing America today ranges from impractical (immigration) to insane (let’s default on our debt) to politically suicidal (I’m lookin’ at you, Paul Ryan).

    Mike

  15. JohnMcC says:

    In, I think the fourth paragraph, the last sentence says “…I have no reason to believe…Barack Obama and George W Bush had honorable intentions.” Surely the word you meant was ‘DIShonorable’. And thank you for reading and replying to comments.

    The inner pedant now satisfied….

    You point at a very old theme that in my lifetime has had many manifestations almost all from the Right. Joe McCarthy didn’t just disagree with the Truman foreign policy he pretended to have lists of Communists in the State Dept. Robert Welch didn’t just prefer more conservative candidates than Eisenhower he declared him a ‘dedicated, conscious agent’ of communism. Every time a stressful crisis turns over a rock on the American landscape some conspiracy theorist slithers out full of such venom. And his prey is always another American.

  16. JKB says:

    But he wants one billion dollars for his re-election campaign and a press corps with Republican–seeking laser beams on their heads.

    Surely that makes him eeevil?

    Unfortunately, there are no journalists with frickin’ Republican-seeking laser beams on their heads but there are plenty who excel in ill-tempered carping.

  17. Ryon Lancaster says:

    @Eric:
    So simple an idea, yet so hard to grasp.

    Though I will say Buchanan might not have intended to destroy America, he didn’t do a lot to save it…

  18. As an aside, an interesting fact check on Romney and the economy here.

  19. Tillman says:

    @JeffC:
    No, no, you must be thinking of Colin Firth’s Oscar-winning portrayal of King George VI in the British historical drama film The King’s Speech. An easy mistake.

  20. JKB says:

    Romney needs to start selling his vision for America. Then Obama, as evil, incompetent, foolish, lazy, dangerous, or just plain wrong, will be apparent from the differences in visions. The other Republicans might have been able to win if they’d sold their vision instead of falling into vilifying.

    So, someone needs to tell Romney what vision he has for America. Then it will force Obama to lay out his vision and defend his actions. Or is this really about who runs the Combine with the “elite” just swapping chairs while they all run America in the ground? If so, then I think we’ll see something very different come 2016 regardless of who wins in November.

  21. Eric says:

    @Ryon Lancaster:

    I knew someone would pull out that forgettable President, but he was a lame duck, leaving the office and that kind of mess was “Lincoln’s Fault,” though he did have like 4 or 5 months before Lincoln took office.

    But I do mean by my statement. For someone to put so much time and effort to get a job that takes so much time and effort, the past Presidents just did not have intentions to destroy this nation. Sure there was corruption, but that comes with lots of power.

    Just my viewpoint.

  22. Nate Nelson says:

    @Rob in CT:

    I wholeheartedly agree with you. None of the Republican candidates, with the exception of Ron Paul, could even attempt to make the argument I just made. The problem for Republicans is that it’s the only argument that can win them the election — which is why it’s 100% necessary for them to jettison Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, Huntsman, and Perry and nominate Ron Paul. He’s the only one who can legitimately go after Obama for the evils perpetrated by both parties over the course of decades. Romney could try, but nobody with half a brain will believe he’ll actually break with the status quo on issues like interventionism, civil liberties, and separation of powers.

    That the Republicans probably won’t do that indicates to me that they will in fact lose the election. Maybe that will teach them. Then again, while one may be able to teach an old dog new tricks, old elephants seem more stubborn. If they didn’t learn from McCain’s loss in ’08 there’s no reason to be optimistic that they’ll learn anything this time around either.

  23. @JKB:

    On Obama’s version of the vision, this seems to be getting surprisingly low coverage:

    Obama seeks power to merge agencies, shrink government

    It would be funny if that story fell in a hole, even as “Obama is a government expanding socialist” plays on.

  24. Sorry, bad link. The story is here.

  25. anjin-san says:

    2.6 million jobs lost in Bush’s last year in office. Bin Laden still at large when Bush leaves office.

    22 months of job gains under Obama. Bin Laden at the bottom of the sea.

    If the Republicans want to go with the “Obama is Carter 2.0” thing, by all means, bring it on. Everyone that is going to buy into it already has.

  26. anjin-san says:

    @ JKB,

    What is it about Obama you are so unhappy about? That we still have an auto industry in America and the millions of jobs that come with it? The huge tax cuts that were included in the stimulus? Bin Laden dead and Al-Qaeda decimated? The stock market regaining the vast amount of wealth that was lost under Bush? Month after month of job gains? Do tell. Give some specifics, don’t just toss verbs around…

  27. ddennis says:

    @michael reynolds:

    In addition to that, Michael, is the fact the Romney is running from what is clearly his most singular, successful piece of legislation: the Massachusetts healthcare act. If that’s not insanity, I don’t know what is.

  28. ddennis says:

    @JKB:

    That’s just it, then, isn’t it JKB? The Republicans have layed down no plan or vision because they have no plan or vision. Thus, all the personal attacks on Obama. They turn even the most legitimate political attack into a personal one, which turns off reasonable thinkers. Then, they increase the discontent by not providing a single solution, viable or not. Well, sorry, except for Newt G. You can say a lot of things about him, but Newt does throw out ideas, rancid though they be.

  29. An Interested Party says:

    So, someone needs to tell Romney what vision he has for America.

    Well, that just about says it all for Multiple Choice Mitt…

  30. gVOR08 says:

    I keep asking my conservative friends to point out something Obama has done that Richard Nixon wouldn’t have done, or did do. Remember that Nixon said ‘we’re all Keynesians now’ and proposed a more liberal health care package than Obamacare. So show me how Obama is to the left of Richard Nixon.

    Oh wait, I do know one. He ended Iraq in his first term, Nixon held off ’til he was a lame duck. If Iraq blows up, it could cost Obama his second term. Say what you will, the kids got guts.

  31. DRS says:

    And of course, take the Obama-is-evil argument to its logical conclusion and you’re not even attacking Obama anymore. You’re attacking your fellow Americans who were too stupid to notice and/or too evil themselves to care. Nothing I’ve seen of the American electorate over the years leads me to conclude they like being considered either stupid or evil.

  32. mantis says:

    The ads against Romney write themselves:

    At Bain Capital, Mitt Romney specialized in buying struggling companies and destroying them for profit. As president, Barack Obama fought to save the struggling American auto industry, leading to its most profitable years since the 1980s.

    As governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney raised state taxes and fees by nearly $1 billion. As president, Barack Obama fought Republicans to keep tax cuts for working families during difficult economic times.

    I for one relish the thought of a “management” themed comparison of President Obama and Governor Romney. I just can’t believe Republicans think it’s a good bet.

  33. sam says:

    @JKB:

    Romney needs to start selling his vision for America.

    Then a few sentences later:

    So, someone needs to tell Romney what vision he has for America

    Hifυckinglarious. The programmers will get right on it.

  34. Septimius says:

    The individual mandate in Obamacare is absolutely un-American. Never before in the history of the United States has the government attempted to force the citizenry to purchase a product from a private company. I’d like to know which “conservative think tanks” were proposing the individual mandate in the 90’s. If they were smart, the Democrats would have gone for a single payer, universal system like they have in other countries. Because of the individual mandate, Obamacare isn’t going to survive the Supreme Court.

  35. Rick Almeida says:

    @Septimius:

    The individual mandate in Obamacare is absolutely un-American. Never before in the history of the United States has the government attempted to force the citizenry to purchase a product from a private company.

    Car insurance?

  36. Septimius says:

    @Rick Almeida: If you don’t own a car, you don’t have to buy car insurance. Nor, is car insurance a requirement of the federal government.

  37. anjin-san says:

    @Rick Almeida

    Newt must have been Septimius’ history professor…

  38. David M says:

    @Septimius: Pretty sure the health care mandate in Massachusetts predates the health care mandate in Obamacare. As to which conservative think tanks supported the individual mandate, Heritage is the first example that comes to mind, but this isn’t limited to think tanks as plenty of prominent GOP conservatives supported it before Obamacare. The mandate is clearly constitutional, the only question is if how it is currently structured is constitutional.

    But you are right about one thing finally, a single payer solution would be an improvement over Obamacare. I wonder why the GOP aren’t cooperated with the Democrats to implement that as a replacement for the freedom killing mandate?

  39. mannning says:

    Whether being a two-faced liar makes Obama evil or not is up to every citizen. That he speaks with forked tongue off teleprompter is becoming better known.

    That he has intentionally not defined in detail what he meant by “hope and change” leaves many to make their own interpretation, or to simply believe that any change just must be for the better. This is so without assessing the cost to us all, such as an extra Trillion or so dollars per year in the phantom budget of his administration, and a national debt that currently equals our GDP and is still growing.

    That his policies with respect to energy have cost us both thousands of jobs and healthy steps towards energy independence, as well as filling the coffers of ME and S. American nations, is also becoming better known.

    I’d say that evil is as evil does.

  40. mantis says:

    @Septimius:

    Never before in the history of the United States has the government attempted to force the citizenry to purchase a product from a private company.

    Not true. In fact, there was an individual mandate “forcing” citizens to purchase products (firearms) from private companies at the very beginning of our republic: the Militia Act of 1792. There are examples since, such as Rick’s example of auto insurance.

    I’d like to know which “conservative think tanks” were proposing the individual mandate in the 90′s.

    That would be the Heritage Foundation.

    If they were smart, the Democrats would have gone for a single payer, universal system like they have in other countries.

    Politically impossible at the time. Maybe someday.

    Because of the individual mandate, Obamacare isn’t going to survive the Supreme Court.

    I doubt it, but we’ll see.

  41. sam says:

    @Septimius:

    Never before in the history of the United States has the government attempted to force the citizenry to purchase a product from a private company

    Ah, horsepucky. See Militia Act of 1792. Passed under color of the militia clause, of course. But it does give the lie to your claim.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective States, resident therein, who is or shall be of age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia, by the Captain or Commanding Officer of the company, within whose bounds such citizen shall reside, and that within twelve months after the passing of this Act. And it shall at all time hereafter be the duty of every such Captain or Commanding Officer of a company, to enroll every such citizen as aforesaid, and also those who shall, from time to time, arrive at the age of 18 years, or being at the age of 18 years, and under the age of 45 years (except as before excepted) shall come to reside within his bounds; and shall without delay notify such citizen of the said enrollment, by the proper non-commissioned Officer of the company, by whom such notice may be proved. That every citizen, so enrolled and notified, shall, within six months thereafter, provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch, with a box therein, to contain not less than twenty four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball; or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot-pouch, and powder-horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle, and a quarter of a pound of powder; and shall appear so armed, accoutred and provided, when called out to exercise or into service, except, that when called out on company days to exercise only, he may appear without a knapsack.

    The Founders had no qualms about ordering the citizenry to purchase something. Not only that, they had no qualms about enrolling you in the militia whatever your desires. Damned tyrants.

  42. mantis says:

    @Septimius:

    If you don’t own a car, you don’t have to buy car insurance.

    And if you do own a car, the government “forces” you to purchase insurance from a private company. Something you claim has happened “never before in the history of the United States.”

    Nor, is car insurance a requirement of the federal government.

    What difference does that make?

  43. mantis says:

    @mannning:

    Shorter Manning: Obama is so evil! We have more debt now, so case closed. Evil. Also, teleprompters and Saul Alinsky and birth certificates.

  44. anjin-san says:

    That his policies with respect to energy have cost us both thousands of jobs and healthy steps towards energy independence

    Oil drilling has surged under Obama. Natural gas production is off the charts. Oil shale is reaching critical mass.

    Have you suffered a sharp blow to the head recently, or have you always been this way?

  45. mantis says:

    Have you suffered a sharp blow to the head recently, or have you always been this way?

    The latter.

  46. @mannning:

    Manning, are you at all aware of the shale oil boom?

    I mean, it’s amazing. It’s one thing to get your wingnut in a twist over hope and change, but it’s another to let business news pass you by.

  47. doubter4444 says:

    Look at the comment section of the Article referenced by the post and you’ll get a good indication that that argument he’s making is not going to get any traction.
    And look at Manning troll post, fact free, devoid of specifics and long on right wing memes – these people want to hate him, and don’t care about governing

  48. Nate Nelson says:

    @DRS writes: And of course, take the Obama-is-evil argument to its logical conclusion and you’re not even attacking Obama anymore. You’re attacking your fellow Americans who were too stupid to notice and/or too evil themselves to care. Nothing I’ve seen of the American electorate over the years leads me to conclude they like being considered either stupid or evil.

    Again, it depends on how you argue that Obama is evil. If you argue that he has always obviously been an evil Kenyan socialist bent on destroying the United States, then yes, the logical conclusion of that is that those who voted for him were either stupid or evil. If, on the other hand, you argue that what he has done since taking office is evil — consolidation of power in Washington, expansion of executive power, even more aggressive foreign interventionism, ripping up the Bill of Rights, etc. — ’08 Obama voters are off the hook because that’s what he’s done since they voted for him. And in direct contradiction to what he promised to do, I might add.

  49. Hey Norm says:

    It’s simple. When all you got is crazy…crazy is all you got.

  50. Septimius says:

    @mantis: That analogy is ridiculous. Owning certain items, such as an automobile, necessarily entails risk to other individuals. Therefore, it is reasonable and proper for the state to ensure that the other individual receives compensation if you misuse that item, e.g. cause an accident. States don’t require car insurance so that you can fix your car if it’s involved in an accident, they require it so that you can fix the other guy’s car if you cause the accident. In fact, in some states, like Ohio, you don’t have to have car insurance if you buy a bond or deposit enough money with the Department of State.

    The individual mandate requiring the purchase of health insurance is totally different. You can’t get around it. And, whether or not you have health insurance does not entail any risk to others.

    Your example of the Militia Act of 1792 is similarly false. First, the Constitution of the United States explicitly empowers Congress to establish and organize militias for the Common defense of the country. Furthermore, the act only applied to certain individuals, namely able-bodied, white men between 18 and 45. Finally, the militias were organized by the states, not the federal government. Congress never enforced it.

  51. David M says:

    @Septimius: And health insurance helps prevent everyone else from picking up the tab for your healthcare.

  52. anjin-san says:

    . And, whether or not you have health insurance does not entail any risk to others.

    If you make a choice to not have health insurance, and incur substantial costs that are passed along to the public, you are creating risk and, in fact, doing harm to others. What if the cost of health care for the uninsured by choice compromises essential government services? Fire & police? What if roads and bridges become unsafe due to maintainence cuts? Obviously a single individual cannot do this sort of damage, but a large enough group certainly could.

  53. mantis says:

    @Septimius:

    That analogy is ridiculous.

    Not really.

    Owning certain items, such as an automobile, necessarily entails risk to other individuals. Therefore, it is reasonable and proper for the state to ensure that the other individual receives compensation if you misuse that item, e.g. cause an accident.

    And if you don’t have health insurance, get sick or injured, and go to an emergency room, the rest of us end up picking up the tab through increased health care costs and taxpayer money.

    The individual mandate requiring the purchase of health insurance is totally different. You can’t get around it.

    You can’t get around the fact that you are a fragile biological creature that can get sick or injured.

    And, whether or not you have health insurance does not entail any risk to others.

    Sure it does. The risk is just spread among us all in the form of taxes and increased health care costs. Why should we all foot the bill for the reckless when there is a better way?

    Your example of the Militia Act of 1792 is similarly false.

    Are you saying the Militia Act of 1792 didn’t exist, or didn’t force citizens to purchase firearms?

    First, the Constitution of the United States explicitly empowers Congress to establish and organize militias for the Common defense of the country.

    Yes, and the Constitution empowers them to do other things as well. For instance:

    The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

    Furthermore, the act only applied to certain individuals, namely able-bodied, white men between 18 and 45.

    So what? It’s still the government forcing citizens to purchase a product from a private company, something you said has never happened. You’re wrong.

    Finally, the militias were organized by the states, not the federal government.

    So what? The Militia Act of 1792 was a federal law, genius. It applied to all the states.

    Congress never enforced it.

    Even if that is true, which you haven’t even tried to show, who cares?

  54. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I write that as the author of a book that contains the sentence, “Of course Obamacare is socialism.”

    Williamson is a self-admitted idiot who doesn’t even know what “socialism” is. Obamacare might be a lot of things, good,bad, or indifferent. But one thing it is not is “socialism”.

    Doug, when they are that stupid, I really wonder why you bother? Or do you just not see it because of your blinders?

  55. mantis says:

    @Septimius:

    I should note that Congress doesn’t enforce laws anyway, so the fact that they didn’t enforce that one means nothing. It wasn’t their job.

  56. mantis says:

    Williamson is a self-admitted idiot who doesn’t even know what “socialism” is. Obamacare might be a lot of things, good,bad, or indifferent. But one thing it is not is “socialism”.

    Indeed. If “Obamacare” is socialism, why are all these private health insurance companies involved?

  57. Tillman says:

    Just so you know, Congress also signed into law something similar to a health insurance mandate for sailors, according to PolitiFact.

  58. mannning says:

    @john personna:

    After imposing a nearly three-year moratorium on new offshore
    drilling, the Obama Administration announced a draft plan this week that closes
    the majority of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) to new energy production
    through 2017. The draft five-year plan prohibits new offshore energy development
    and only allows lease sales to occur in areas that are already open. The draft
    plan places portions of Alaska and the entire Atlantic and Pacific Coasts
    off-limits to new energy production and job creation. “The Obama
    Administration’s draft plan places some of the most promising energy resources
    in the world off-limits… No new drilling or new lease sales will occur during
    President Obama’s term in office – despite the overwhelming support of the
    American people for new offshore energy production. The President’s plan is to
    simply say ‘no’ to new energy production and ‘no’ to new American jobs created
    by new offshore drilling. It’s a plan that is sending American jobs overseas,
    forfeiting new revenue, and denying access to American energy that would lessen
    our dependence on hostile Middle Eastern oil,” said Chairman Doc Hastings. Next
    week, the Committee will hear from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on this draft
    plan and other energy-related concerns at an oversight hearing on “The Future of
    U.S. Oil and Natural Gas Development on Federal Lands and
    Waters.” Source, House Natural Resources Committee.

    By 2035, shale oil — also known as “tight oil” because it
    is sandwiched between hard layers of shale rock — could
    produce 2 to 3 million barrels of oil per day given the right
    regulatory environment and technology breakthroughs, said the
    panel, which includes a who’s who of the oil and gas industry.
    Output from such fields has jumped from near nil to 600,000
    bpd.
    The increase in supplies would be equivalent to about a 50
    percent boost in current domestic output, but far from enough
    to replace imports. The United States consumes about 20 million
    barrels of oil per day, importing about half of that.
    But the potential growth in oil production that could come
    from shale oil, offshore drilling, and the Canadian oilsands
    belies the conventional wisdom that North American oil
    production is on an inevitable decline, said Andrew Slaughter,
    a Shell official who led the council’s study of resources.
    “The potential is very significant, and if choices are made
    to develop those resources, that decline that we’ve seen over
    the last 10 to 15 years could actually turn up, and turn into
    growth,” Slaughter told reporters. “It’s a matter of choice.”
    But if the federal and state governments crack down on the
    “fracking” practises of companies or change tax treatment for
    oil exploration and production, production could stagnate at
    about 600,000 barrels per day, the report said.

    Source–WASHINGTON/NEW YORK, Sept 15 (Reuters) – North America’s
    nascient shale oil fields could one day produce as much crude
    as Venezuela, an advisory panel to the U.S. government said on
    Wednesday in a report urging policies to aid expansion.

    Natureal gas is one temporary growth item, but is limited in the long term, and not easy to replace gasoline as a fuel for autos.

    So, for three years, we have lost the production we should have had, plus the further exploitation offshore.

  59. Steve says:

    Manning- We are now exporting energy products. Production is way up. Using data, rather than assertion, please show how Obama has hurt energy production.

    Steve

  60. An Interested Party says:

    If they were smart, the Democrats would have gone for a single payer, universal system like they have in other countries.

    Oh please, you write that as if your fellow travelers didn’t demagogue the public option to death…as if the President could have gotten a majority of Congress to vote for a single-payer plan…

    Because of the individual mandate, Obamacare isn’t going to survive the Supreme Court.

    Oh, I wouldn’t count that Kennedy chicken before it hatches…

    Whether being a two-faced liar makes Obama evil or not is up to every citizen. That he speaks with forked tongue off teleprompter is becoming better known.

    I’d say that evil is as evil does.

    Hahahahahaha…such self-righteous, sanctimonious drivel…I wonder if you were decrying falsehoods when they were used to get us into Iraq…

  61. David M says:

    @mannning: Your sources are a GOP congressman and Shell Oil spokesman, and we’re supposed to take them seriously? Your “analysis” conveniently ignores the energy efficiency and conservation, as increasing production isn’t a long term solution.

  62. mannning says:
  63. mannning says:
  64. anjin-san says:

    @Manning

    From your link

    Even the liberal Washington Post, which hasn’t endorsed a Republican for President since 1952, seems to be souring on the Obama Administration’s failed energy programs

    Failed policy? It’s just a layman’s POV, but from where I sit, our energy position seems to be better than it has since the ’73 oil shock. This has been done without giving the keys to the west wing to oil companies and with concern for environmental issues.

  65. mannning says:
  66. Linton says:

    @mannning:

    Oh no! He wasted money and rewarded his cronies?! Can we just go ahead and say every president of the past century was evil then? Or for that matter, almost every human being who has ever lived?

  67. David M says:

    @mannning: If the articles don’t address the fact that oil and gas production are increasing, they aren’t worth anything. They aren’t addressing real world issues and the authors should expect to be roundly mocked and ridiculed for pretending their fantasy world opinions matter.

  68. mannning says:

    Well, there were some 67,000,000 Google hits on the “failed Obama energy policy”, so we can play this opinion game almost forever. I have seen no supportable facts from the liberal chorus to back up their claims that all is hunky dory with our energy policy; rather, there is extremely wide concern across the board that it is seriously deficient and getting worse. If we are truly on the right track since Obama was elected, surely we would show real improvement by now, but the consensus is we are in for a disaster, largely because of Obama’s energy policies. Our dependence on foreign oil has grown to roughly 50% now, which is a clear sign of trouble.

  69. anjin-san says:

    @ Manning

    I give up. You make a rock look like the president of MENSA.

  70. mannning says:

    @Linton:

    Go ahead and say it if that is your opinion. The failings of past Presidents just happen to be irrelevant to the discussion of now and our future under Obama.

  71. David M says:

    @mannning: Here you go, a recent article in USA Today.

  72. mannning says:

    @anjin-san:

    Glad you gave up! You seem to know when you have lost the argument to a vast array of sources. I have seen no unassailable data from the assembled liberals here that show we are doing just fine in the energy policy arena.

    Too bad your usual snark is showing, but it is quite expected from the likes of you. You must be living under that rock you mentioned.

  73. Rick Almeida says:

    @Septimius:

    In other words, you wish to revise your comment.

  74. anjin-san says:

    You are absolutely right Manning. Oil production is higher under Obama than under Bush. Drilling is up. The same for natural gas and oil shale. We are exporting energy.

    Proof positive that Obama sucks. How can anyone not see it?

  75. Linton says:

    @mannning:

    Hey that’s your opinion too if you’re going to apply what seems to be your definition of evil more broadly. And it is relevant because I have a strong feeling that every person running for president would probably have something in their history to qualify them to meet that standard.

  76. mannning says:

    @David M:

    We need to exploit offshore oil, since as your quoted article says:

    “Hamilton, the economics professor, says that the U.S. oil boomlet has reversed a historic decline in production, but that the nation won’t ever go back to producing as much oil as in the 1970s or consuming as little as it did then.

    “We’re still importing a huge amount of crude oil,” Hamilton says, and neither he nor the U.S. government expects that will change anytime soon.

    “North Dakota’s production, though growing, is still small compared to what we got out of Alaska,” he says. “It doesn’t change the long-term challenges or end the overall U.S. petroleum trade deficit.””

  77. mannning says:

    @Linton:

    We all must accept at least the lesser evils of our voting choice, whether we actually know them or not. This goes back to the choice of the lesser liar as well, as far as one can determine. It is every voter’s individual opinion that counts as to which liar or evil one voted for is the better choice. I assert that we are worse off with Obama now, and will not vote for him.

  78. @mannning:

    Offshore … so we do a post-spill moratorium, and more than offset by onshore production.

    I think I see what has your wingnut in a twist. You don’t care about the oil coming out of the shale states. You are upset that the costliest oil spill in the history of the world wasn’t written off as a socialized loss!

    Private profit, federal cleanup, is that your ticket mannning?

  79. anjin-san says:

    I assert that we are worse off with Obama now, and will not vote for him.

    You are right again!

    I know I miss that whole economy on the brink of depression thing. And those happy days of 2008 when we were losing 220,000 jobs a month. I miss bin laden. I miss the Iraq war. Good times.

  80. Linton says:

    @mannning:

    I’m not going to tell you to vote for Obama, but all I’m hearing is the typical “our country is worse under Obama” talk. Okay, make those arguments, just don’t expect anyone who reads them to think “a ha, this proves he’s evil”.

    Most people who perceive failure or incompetence on the part of a leader don’t make that leap to evil. If you had a smoking gun tape of Obama saying “I’m going to run this country into the ground”, followed by an evil cackle, then you might have a point.

  81. An Interested Party says:

    The President can only hope that people like Matthew Vadum, JKB, Septimius, and mannning run the campaign of his GOP opponent as that will all but guarantee his reelection…

  82. michael reynolds says:

    Summarizing this thread:

    Doug: Can we stop the craziness that I find embarrassing and stick to the core Republican purpose of shining the shoes of rich people?

    Manning: No. We are the crazy. You invited us into your party in order to gain power and now, guess what? We own it. And you own us, hate and lunacy and all.

  83. anjin-san says:

    We own it. And you own us, hate and lunacy and all.

    And here is the core of the issue. The GOP cannot abandon the “Obama is evil” nonsense because there is no second act. That is the entire show now.

  84. steve says:

    We are approaching a 40 year high in energy production.

    http://www.chron.com/business/energy/article/N-American-oil-output-could-top-40-year-old-peak-2193837.php

    The number of rigs drilling is surging.

    http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2011/08/27/number-of-the-week-how-many-rigs-are-drilling-for-oil/

    Offshore rigs for oil are down a bit because Petrobras outbid everyone for their services. That, plus rigs drilling for gas have pretty much stopped with the drop in natural gas prices.

    http://clas.uchicago.edu/sites/clas.uchicago.edu/files/uploads/presalt3%20oesp%203-11.pdf

    So when you read this from allvoices…

    “Many Americans, on both ends of the political spectrum, are surely scratching their heads trying to make sense of the Obama Administration’s energy policy. From his first days in office President Obama has seemed to thwart any attempt to increase American production of gas and oil, even as oil prices from OPEC and other foreign nations are driven to ever higher record prices.”

    And, you seem to believe it, you need to check out what is really happening. Taking some time to try to get deep sea drilling a bit safer while we are surging in production elsewhere seems prudent. Why waste those future resources?

    Steve

  85. michael reynolds says:

    @steve:
    You’re an optimist. You think facts matter to someone like Manning. If facts mattered to Manning he wouldn’t be Manning to begin with.

  86. Of course, it’s another question whether too many shale leases were granted, whether fracking will have caused lasting harm, and if in fact this government had been too pro-business after all.

  87. DefendUrLife says:

    And here we go…

    The Left has paid bloggers that are assigned various conservative websites…and it is sickening to see the same old crap on these sites.

    Go away…Lefties…go Occupy Hollywood or something.

  88. Septimius says:

    @mantis:

    And if you don’t have health insurance, get sick or injured, and go to an emergency room, the rest of us end up picking up the tab through increased health care costs and taxpayer money.

    That’s only because we don’t turn anyone away. It would be like the government telling every auto body shop that they had to fix the cars of uninsured motorists that were in accidents. I’m not advocating that we turn away sick or injured people, but in principle, their lack of health isurance or ability to pay shouldn’t have any bearing on the rest of us. I’m not even completely opposed to a mandate. I just don’t think it’s the proper role of the federal government and I don’t think it’s constitutional under the commerce clause. We could have insured a huge number of the uninsured by simply raising the income limit for medicaid. I still don’t think the car insurance analogy works because you do not have to own a car; therefore, government can never compel you to purchase car insurance.

    The individual mandate requiring the purchase of health insurance is totally different. You can’t get around it.

    You can’t get around the fact that you are a fragile biological creature that can get sick or injured.

    And, whether or not you have health insurance does not entail any risk to others.

    Sure it does. The risk is just spread among us all in the form of taxes and increased health care costs. Why should we all foot the bill for the reckless when there is a better way?

    Whether or not you have health insurance does not pose a risk to my health or my property like operating an automobile does. What you’re talking about is not a risk, it’s a cost. Again, I believe that if, as a society, we refuse to turn away people that cannot afford their own healthcare, then we should have some sort of government mechanism, like medicaid, that can provide healthcare for them.

    Your example of the Militia Act of 1792 is similarly false.

    Are you saying the Militia Act of 1792 didn’t exist, or didn’t force citizens to purchase firearms?

    No, I’m saying that your analogy is false. The consititution explicitly states that Congress must establish militias for the defense of the country (Article 1, Section 8). The constitution does not explicitly state that Congress must force all citizens to purchase health insurance (even under John Conyers’ “Good and Welfare Clause”). To be honest, I wasn’t familiar with the Militia Act of 1792 before you brought it up. But, I looked it up and it wasn’t really enforced. By the War of 1812, it was determined that militias were inadequate for defense of the U.S. A standing Army was needed. Although it was on the books until 1903, able-bodied white men between 18 and 45 were not required to join the state militias or possess firearms. I really don’t believe that the Miltia Act of 1792 is a great example of the federal government forcing all citizens to purchase a product from a private company. It was last in effect about 200 years ago when the country was very young. I think it’s a bit of an abberation of the relationship that most Americans believe they have with the federal government. I think if you asked most Americans whether or not government has forced them to purchase a product from a private company or asked them if they thought it was an American tradition to do so, I doubt many people would bring up the Militia Act of 1792. And, that was my point about Obamacare being un-American. Just because something happened once in American history, does not mean it’s an American tradition. For example, because President Obama bows to foreign leaders does not make it an “American” thing to do. If fact, most people would consider it un-American.

    But, I will happily concede your point that for a brief period of time over 200 years ago, the federal government did require certain citizens to purchase a certain product.

  89. An Interested Party says:

    The Left has paid bloggers that are assigned various conservative websites…and it is sickening to see the same old crap on these sites.

    Oh my, time for the conspiracy theories…hey James and Doug, tell us how much Soros has paid you…

  90. David M says:

    Shorter @Septimius: Providing health care to people without health insurance is free, why do you lefties complicating it by pointing out that unreimbursed costs are passed along to everyone else. Is it free if the government pays for it?

  91. mannning says:

    @steve:

    Why waste those future resources?

    With real unemployment hovering around 18 to 22%, the yearly debit exceeding $1 Trillion,and the national debt exceeding $15 Trillion, you want to conserve oil now and forego the benefits of higher employment and lower energy prices?

    Seems like an extremely inopportune time to me!

    We should be exploiting all of our energy resources full tilt–coal, natural gas and oil–until we can reach a more stable economy, more plentiful jobs, and develop alternative energy resources to an economic and safe point, especially nuclear power.

    You seem to want the costs of your preservation to ride on the backs of the public, particularly the lower quartiles.

  92. mannning says:

    Definition of EVIL from Merriam- Webster:

    1 : the fact of suffering, misfortune, and wrongdoing
    2: something that brings sorrow, distress, or calamity

    Which definitions fit someone (or ones) that lies, misdirects, overspends, and stifles our way of life.

  93. matt says:

    @mannning: Come on Mannning Cheney hasn’t been in office for years…

  94. mannning says:

    @matt:

    For sure he hasn’t, but our incumbent President has managed to drive up the National Debt this year to $16 Trillion from the $10 Trillion he inherited from Bush II, which is now at least 100% of the GDP. The pain of this is being felt in the pocketbooks of all our citizens. We now have almost 50% of the debt in foreign hands, too, and the interest alone tops $400 Billion!
    Madness!

  95. mannning says:

    @anjin-san:

    You should stop repeating the myths of the left. about our oil production:

    1985 8.971 2006 5.102
    1986 8.680 2007 5.064
    1987 8.349 2008 4.950
    1988 8.140 2009 5.361
    1989 7.613 2010 5.512
    1990 7.355

    *Includes lease condensate. And since the mid-2000s, oil production from shale formations.

    Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) @ petroleum Insights blog

    Anemic at best.

  96. Moms Hugs says:

    @Septimius: Apparently you’ve not heard… driving without insurance is illegal in all 50 states – uniform laws under federal mandate.