I still have my old copy of Quotations From Chairman LBJ. The book was inspired by Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-Tung (“the little red book”). Compiled by Jack Shepherd and Christopher Wren and published by Simon and Schuster in the annus horribilis of 1968, the book consisted of supposedly laughable quotes attributable to President Johnson. It was popular enough to go through multiple printings. My copy derives from the third printing. Despite its success as a publishing venture I can’t find much in the book that in the fullness of time has proved laughable or derisory except the attitude it displays toward Johnson as the left turned on him.
The form has been dedicated to documenting the supposed stupidity of Republican presidents such as Ronald Reagan (Reagan Quotes, compiled by Mark Tracy from two books by liberals about Reagan) and George W. Bush (George W. Bushisms, compiled by Jacob Weisberg).
We’re well past the time when the form should be resurrected for President Obama. David Boze took a worthy pass at such a project with The Little Red Book of Obamunism (2012) but earlier posts in this series demonstrate the need for something comprehensive and updated.
The White House has now posted the transcript of President Obama’s remarks on immigration in Chicago this past Tuesday. The speech gives us some truly quotable quotes to be included in Quotations from Chairman Barry.
Here is the chairman warming to his subject:
If you go to — I was just traveling in Asia — you go to Japan, they don’t have problems with certain folks being discriminated against because mostly everybody is Japanese. (Laughter.) You know? But here, part of what’s wonderful about America is also what makes our democracy hard sometimes, because sometimes we get attached to our particular tribe, our particular race, our particular religion, and then we start treating other folks differently.
Now this could (and should) lead to a profound meditation on Americanization and the American idea, but Obama’s promotion of immigration assaults them as well as the sovereignty of the American people. Thus Obama continues with this gem for our anthology:
And that [tribalism], sometimes, has been a bottleneck to how we think about immigration. If you look at the history of immigration in this country, each successive wave, there have been periods where the folks who were already here suddenly say, well, I don’t want those folks. Even though the only people who have the right to say that are some Native Americans. (Applause.)
Don’t bottleneck me, bro!
In this reading, the American people have lost the right to control immigration in their own interests. Bill Voegeli has a timely discussion of the train of thought implicit in Obama’s remarks in his essay “Left, Right and Human” in the current issue of the Claremont Review of Books (currently accessible to subscribers only). Bill writes in part on this point: “From the liberal premise that differences between people are merely superficial, it follows that there are no compelling moral reasons to exclude people from around the world who would prefer to live here, not elsewhere. Who’s to say, after all, that that their ways are worse than our ways? By what right must they change just so we can feel more comfortable? An immigration policy compliant with liberal sensibilities does as little as possible to exclude people who want to come here, and then asks as little as possible of people who want to stay.” To the standard liberal mix described by Voegeli, Obama adds malice toward the American idea and the American people.
Obama’s Chicago speech also gave us his unscripted confirmation of what we have been saying about his royal decree regularizing the status of millions of illegal aliens contrary to the law of the land. Obama had previously asserted some twenty-plus times that he lacked the constitutional authority to alter immigration law unilaterally precisely as he has now done. In response to a heckler chiding him for not doing enough on behalf of the population of illegal aliens, Obama asserted:
[W]hat you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took action to change the law. (Applause.) So that’s point number one.
“That’s point number one,” indeed. Earlier this week David Rivkin and Elizabeth Foley elaborated on the illegality of Obama’s “action to change the law” in “Obama’s immigration enablers” (subscribers only, but accessible via Google here).