One of my holiday projects is to finish my rereading of the complete corpus of Whittaker Chambers (with a retrospective essay on his overlooked theological interests to follow eventually), and a couple days ago I read through an article Chambers wrote for The American Mercury in 1944 about the rise of Italian fascism. Somehow this paragraph reminded me of someone . . . familiar (“let’s see, start’s with ‘O’ I think. . .”):
Civilized countries, like civilized individuals, like to keep their budgets balanced. For years old-fashioned Italian leaders tried to make income and outgo jibe. But in 1876 there came to power a modern politician for whom red entries had no terror, but even a certain charm. Agostino Depretis, Italy’s first Liberal prime minister, started Italy on the road to fascism. He was a journalist who discovered that the key to modern power politics is the masses and their mouthpieces, the Left politicians. With their help, he managed to stay in power for eleven years. He owed this achievement to a technique that seemed inspired then, but is familiar enough now: he had no program. He simply promised every sort of reform regardless of whether or not his promises were contradictory. Thus he promised to reduce taxation but increase public works, to restore prosperity but introduce social security. This catholicity attracted men from all schools of thought. Oppressed tenants and underpaid workers, reactionary landlords and big employers all sought to collect on the promissory notes which he issued on his way to power.
Seems to me you could easily rewrite this paragraph and apply it to Obama, spanning the range from the Occupy lowlifes to Obama’s Goldman Sachs financiers.
While we’re on the Chambers beat, I was surprised to discover that Chambers reviewed Saul Alinsky’s Reveille for Radicals in Time magazine in 1946. Who knows what might have been edited out of the rather spare review that was printed, but what survived makes clear that Chambers clearly perceived that Alinsky was a not just an extreme liberal, but a Radical with a capital R, who had no use for American liberals or liberalism. “A liberal is [a person] who puts his foot down on thin air,” Chambers quotes Alinsky from his book. Chambers adds that “The author has glimpsed a vision which is greater than his ability to put it in practical terms.” To the extent that Obama seems otherworldly, aloof, and/or clueless, it is because he really is a dedicated Alinskyite, whose desire to change America fundamentally should be taken seriously. It helps explain why his heedless irresponsibility is in fact purposeful.