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Romney/Ryan turn back the magical thinking of Obama

Romney/Ryan turn back the magical thinking of Obama

By James Lucier for the Daily Mail

Published: 12:54 BST, 27 August 2012 | Updated: 09:14 BST, 28 August 2012



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As the Republicans began to gather in stormy Tampa, President Barrack Obama attempted to rain on the GOP parade. “I can’t speak to Gov. Romney’s motivations,” he darkly told AP in an interview. “What I can say is that he has signed up for positions, extreme positions, that are very consistent with the positions that a number of House Republicans have taken.”

Unfortunately for Obama, U.S. voters do not reciprocate the president’s view that Romney is “extreme.” A current Rassmussen poll reports that 47 percent of voters, to the contrary, view the President’s own views as “extreme,” while 51 percent view Romney’s views as “mainstream.”

Of course the particular House Republican Obama most has in mind is the brilliant Paul Ryan, destined to be Romney’s running mate as VP. At a White House summit on health care in February, 2010, Ryan sat at a table directly across from the President, and skillfully deconstructed Obamacare. He reeled off facts and figures in bravura style, describing its negative impact on Medicare and on the budget. Video shows that the president never responded to him directly, but sat there glowering at his challenger.

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Team GOP: Mitt Romney (R) and his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) greet supporters at a rally in Ohio on Saturday. The two will both speak at the Republican National Convention

A year later Obama gave a major address at Georgetown University on healthcare. He invited Paul Ryan and reserved a seat for him in the front row. Hiding behind a teleprompter, the President blasted the Ryan plan as “not serious.” As a student of Chicago agitator Saul Alinsky’s ethically challenged tactics, he strove to humiliate his challenger with magic epithets rather than facts.

What’s going on here is that the President, and the governing elites generally, engage exclusively in magical thinking. They dwell exclusively in the world of ideology, which by definition, is devoid of reality. They deal in abstractions and mental constructs and demand that the real world should adapt to their thought-projections. Adopting Descartes’ frivolous notion that “I think, therefore I am,” they believe that “I decree, therefore it will exist.”

In the land of ideology, all politics is situated somewhere along a line that ranges from left to right. Following Marx’s dialectical analysis, the left represents the dictatorship of the Obamatariat, as implemented on behalf of the people by magical thinking experts. Meanwhile the right, in the scheme of ideology, represents the vulture-like dictatorship of monopoly capitalism. For someone positioned on the extreme left, looking sidewise down the line, the right does look far away and extreme. They expect that those in the center are merely misled and will eventually come to their senses and join with the left. After all, isn’t it the 99 per cent against the one percent?

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Race to the White House: President Barack Obama criticized presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, in a new interview with the Associated Press saying he adopted ‘extreme positions’

It is magical thinking to believe that a Keynesian stimulus is anything but wasteful government spending.

It is magical thinking to believe that government can create jobs other than building the pyramids or digging ditches and filling them up again.

It is magical thinking to believe that health care costs can be “reduced” by economic projections that go on for decades. Chaos theory, based on the beating of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil, would be a better tool to estimate the fiscal hurricane to come than economic analysis.

It is magical thinking to believe that wind and solar power impact the environment less than fossil fuels, or that they will ever produce enough energy to sustain our development.


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It is magical thinking to believe that a $6 dollar per gallon carbon tax on gasoline, as already proposed in Democratic legislation introduced into Congress, will do anything other than strangle the economy.

It is magical thinking to believe that all things are relative and have no fixed meaning, whether talking about words, empirical observations, civic morality or the rule of law.

This prevailing political analysis of the establishment is totally disconnected from reality. Only a small minority of Americans are interested in ideology. That is the group which self-identifies itself as “liberal” in the annual Gallup poll that asks voters to state their political philosophy, in their own definition. The number of liberals has stood at 21 percent for several years.

The number of voters who identify as “conservatives” is twice as large at 40 percent, outnumbering even the “moderates” at 35 percent. But isn’t conservatism an ideology too? No, the essence of conservatism is to be against ideology, as pointed out by the intellectual father of the conservative movement, the late Russell Kirk.

Indeed there are some conservative activists who obsess about Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman or even John Locke, but it is doubtful that most of the 40 percent in the Gallup survey give those theorists a moment’s thought.

Conservatives have three practical principles, all proudly negative. They are opposed to big government, big labor and big business. Or to put it another way, they are against monopoly government, monopoly labor, and monopoly capitalism. They believe in small efficient government, but only government that is more local than national and doesn’t tell them what to do. They support the right to work of labor, but only under voluntary associations.

They support private property, local banks and private enterprises under the control of stockholders and directors who know each other in real life. They are opposed to ideological capitalism, but not to free enterprise.

There is no theory or ideology behind this, but only the practical reality of everyday life. Conservatives have a fundamental intuition that human beings are fallible and self-serving, and that every power center has to be balanced against another, and constantly decentralized.

As this column showed in an earlier post, huge majorities and pluralities are opposed to the left-wing consensus on such topics as government spending, deficits, abortion, evolution, gun control, illegal immigration (but not legal immigration), and the meaning of marriage. On all such topics, the majority conservatives and moderates oppose the lunatic fringe

Instead of adopting the ideological analysis which believes that the left fringe is normal, and the majority right is extreme, it would be better to parse it in a different way. Let’s take that line that supposedly goes from left to right, and bisect it with another line at 90 degrees.

The start of the Republican National Convention inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum has been postponed until Tuesday because of Tropical Storm Issac The start of the Republican National Convention inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum has been postponed until Tuesday because of Tropical Storm Issac

The start of the Republican National Convention inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum has been postponed until Tuesday because of Tropical Storm Issac

This is the line of common sense, the line of reality-based thinking, as opposed to magical thinking. This is a line which says, “I am, therefore I think.” In other words, thinking doesn’t create reality; thinking takes reality into consideration first.

Along the bisecting line above is the perception of the good; below is the perception of evil. Along the line above is the perception of virtue; below the line is the perception of vice. Above the line is the perception of love; below is the perception of hatred. Above is work and responsibility; below is sloth and selfishness.

Conservatives believe this outlook is a fixed reality that is engraved in every person’s heart. That reality may be confirmed by reason alone.  Many conservatives see it as a reality that is illumined by religious faith, but it is not dependent on revelation. It was an outlook available to a noble pagan, such as Aristotle, or a stoic such as Seneca. It is acknowledged even today by many agnostics and non-religious persons. Yet surveys  continuously report that the vast majority of Americans profess belief in a supreme being, and that a majority report active membership in a church or other house of worship.

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With Paul Ryan on side, Romney forms a formidable opponent for Obama

So most Americans are not in the la-la land of ideological relativism. They believe in common sense, not magical thinking. They believe that the state is the servant of the people, and not the master.

They believe that the rich complexity of society is created by the interlocking work of voluntary institutions, whether in business, education, religion or social welfare. They think that the apparatus of the state is inherently incompetent and dangerous, and ought to be only a temporary resort in an emergency.

The left finds all of this disturbing and unfathomable. Obama as a candidate in 2008 famously sneered at (or perhaps pitied) Americans “who cling to their God and their guns,” apparently unaware that he was referring to the majority of U.S. voters.

The views of the right don’t fit into the Marxist dialectic at all, which is why the left struggles to apply such labels as “far right” or “extreme right.” They certainly don’t fit the pattern of ideological racists or political fascists.

That’s why Obama campaign went hysterical when Romney put forward Ryan as his running mate. When the name was proposed, the left could hardly constrain its glee. Ryan’s budget proposals, already approved by the Republican House but stalled by Democratic Leader Harry Reid in the Senate, would take the Romney campaign over the cliff, they believed. Ryan’s name would be “toxic” to seniors, a key swing category, said disgraced former CBS-TV newsanchor Dan Rather, pretty much summing up the views of Democratic operatives.

Now Ryan’s record hardly shows him to be an extremist. His general voting record was more or less down the line with the Bush administration and House Republican leadership. He is a man of faith and a proponent of social justice (but not the false social justice trumpeted by some who confuse Christianity with socialist ideology). He knows that common sense refutes magical thinking.

Moreover his budget proposals were modest. Far from being the work of the Halloween slasher, his cuts were tiny slices off the rate of growth, not absolute cuts below current levels. He simply would slow the growth of government spending over a period of years leading up the 2027, when all the current political players will be off the field. Nevertheless, when tiny nicks are made in the rate of government growth, all Democrats bleed.

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The Obama campaign went hysterical when Romney put forward Ryan as his running mate

But a funny thing happened on the way to Tampa. After a few days, the polls began coming in. “Hi, I’m Paul,” he would say to the crowds. The seniors loved Paul! He was just like the son they had or wished they had! They hung on his strong arms, buffed every morning by an hour-long insanity workout. If he hadn’t been named as Romney’s running mate, his plan for the weekend had been to make his favorite climb up a 14,000 foot high peak in Colorado.

In the agonizing dead heat of Obama vs. Romney polling, the seniors, and especially the seniors, began moving to the Romney camp in droves. The clincher came when Ryan introduced his own mother at a huge rally in a retirement community in Florida. Although she is 78, she looked 20 years younger, the way retirees would like to think of themselves. Could the son of such a mother really push granny over the brink in a wheelchair?

The Palm Beach Post reported, according to a SurveyUSA poll, that 43 percent of registered Florida voters and 53 percent of seniors had a favorable view of Ryan. Ryan was viewed unfavorably by 32 percent of voters and 30 percent of seniors, said the newspaper.

So Ryan has turned out to be a terrific asset, sharp on the stump and a builder of enthusiasm. Moreover, he has reassured many Republicans that, given the opportunity, Romney can pick the right person.

All though the primaries, Romney was the last choice of three quarters of the party faithful. The suspicion remained that he was a big government man. They weren’t sure whether he represented Marxist capitalism, or free enterprise capitalism. But the choice of Paul Ryan has enabled the Republican base to set aside those doubts. They are so eager to defeat Obama, that recent polls report 98 percent of Republicans support the Romney-Ryan ticket.







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