Isn’t it a bit churlish to dissect the president’s Thanksgiving Day message? After all, it is just a bit of holiday fluff written by some anonymous staffer, right?
Nah. Obama delivered it, and messages of this sort can provide a valuable window into the assumptions that underlie everything an administration does. Plus, it’s fun. So here goes:
Thanksgiving is an uncomfortable holiday for many liberals, because it implicitly poses the question, whom are we thankful to? That’s a question that Obama’s Thanksgiving message never gets around to answering. He is grateful to (or for) lots of folks:
We give thanks for the men and women who set sail for this land nearly four centuries ago, risking everything for the chance at a better life – and the people who were already here, our Native American brothers and sisters, for their generosity during that first Thanksgiving.
A nice multicultural touch, especially the “brothers and sisters.” Obama uses the term only figuratively; his own actual brother is living in poverty in Kenya.
We give thanks for the generations who followed – people of all races and religions, who arrived here from every country on Earth and worked to build something better for themselves and for us.
Thanks to whom? We are still waiting.
We give thanks for all our men and women in uniform – and for their families, who are surely missing them very much today. We’re grateful for their sacrifice too.
Nothing to quarrel with there.
We give thanks for the freedoms they defend – the freedom to think what we want and say what we think, to worship according to our own beliefs, to choose our leaders and, yes, criticize them without punishment. People around the world are fighting and even dying for their chance at these freedoms. We stand with them in that struggle, and we give thanks for being free.
We give thanks to whom for our freedoms? Our soldiers, sure, but where do our freedoms come from? The Founders had no doubt on this score, nor did Abraham Lincoln, whose Gettysburg Address has been celebrated in recent days. But any mention of natural law is verboten in the Obama administration.
Now we get to the part that Obama really means:
And we give thanks to everyone who’s doing their part to make the United States a better, more compassionate nation – who spend their Thanksgiving volunteering at a soup kitchen, or joining a service project, or bringing food and cheer to a lonely neighbor. That big-hearted generosity is a central part of our American character. We believe in lending a hand to folks who need it. We believe in pitching in to solve problems even if they aren’t our problems. And that’s not a one-day-a-year belief. It’s part of the fabric of our nation.
So we are thankful to one another, especially those who volunteer. Nothing wrong with that, but there still seems to be something missing.
And we remember that many Americans need that helping hand right now. Americans who’ve lost their jobs and can’t get a new one through no fault of their own. Americans who’ve been trapped in poverty and just need that helping hand to climb out. Citizens whose prayers and hopes move us to act.
Many of those Americans can’t get a new job because of the lousy policies of the Obama administration, but this is no time for self-reflection. Meanwhile, Obama has abandoned the theme of gratitude.
We are a people who are greater together than we are on our own. That’s what today is about.
Really? Since when? This is the “government is the things we choose to do together” theme, which a) isn’t true, and b) has nothing to do with Thanksgiving.
That’s what every day should be about. No matter our differences, we’re all part of one American family. We are each other’s keeper.
Obama has said this before. He seems to think it is in Scripture somewhere. Also, when he says “we,” he means the government. This is the guiding principle of liberalism, but it is antithetical to American traditions and foreign to the American Constitution. Also, what does “we are each other’s keeper” have to do with Thanksgiving?
Obama is now nearing the end, and he does finally mention God:
We are one nation, under God. That core tenet of our American experience has guided us from the earliest days of our founding – and it will guide us to a future that’s even brighter than today.
Thank you, God bless you, and from my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving.
So God does merit one more mention than Bo and Sunny, but he still doesn’t figure as the object of our thanksgiving. Rather, Obama suggests that we should be grateful to an array of people–soldiers, volunteers, Pilgrims and Native Americans, but most of all to our “keeper,” the government. Above all, perhaps, to the personification of our government, the president? I suppose the rest of us should be thankful that Obama didn’t end his message with, “You’re welcome.”