"And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet … And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered … And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron … And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon." Revelations 12. Above, William Blake's "The Great Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun" (c. 1806-1809, watercolor, Brooklyn Museum).
"Lacking connections with the local political machine, he connected directly with Illinois voters," a cluelessly smitten "nudgey" Cass Sunstein wrote in a puffy paean to then Senator Barack Obama back in July of 2004, guest-blogging for Glenn Reynolds. When the "well-thought-of liberal academic" was appointed last spring as head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (AKA regulatory czar), libertarian Professor Reynolds supported President Obama's selection with a caveat:
While he and I disagree on plenty, I think he’s an honest, decent and very smart guy who wants to help the country. Since I’m not going to get someone who agrees with me about everything from the Obama Administration (heck, I didn’t get that from the Bush Administration) that ought to be enough, and I think that efforts to block his appointment are both unfair and not very smart.
Sunstein's appointment was confirmed in September, and now there's talk of a Supreme Court nomination. Reynolds is skeptical, wondering "if he doesn't have too much baggage," but that's not where we're going with this post. Instead, let's focus on the idiot savant factor. How can such a razor-sharp intellect be so doornail-dumb when it comes to human nature and the way of the world? From that 2004 blogpost, "The Democrats' New Star":
Obama is a genuinely independent thinker; you can't pigeonhole him. Like many Republican leaders, he's centrally concerned about economic growth. He knows the importance of free enterprise, and he has the courage to speak bluntly to union members about the benefits of free trade. Like the most sophisticated Democrats, he seeks ways of providing jobs and opportunities without busting the federal budget. Far from demonizing his political opponents, he compromises with them and is willing to learn from them. He's also someone of unquestioned integrity and good will.
Arggghhh! Every line cries out for a fisking, but let's focus on the one about not "demonizing his political opponents." This very day, even as dirt-digging and -manufacturing minions worked under the radar 24/7 to discredit the motives of the good people of this army of Davids, the President himself, after dropping a gratuitous reference to fringy "birthers" questioning his legitimacy as a US citizen, told NBC that "he recognizes the [Tea Party] movement involves 'folks who have legitimate concerns' about the national debt and whether the government is taking on too many difficult issues simultaneously." Too many difficult issues? It's not the number nor the difficulty of the issues that troubles us, Mr. President. It's your transparent lunge for the jugular of the nation, taking advantage of every "serious crisis," manufactured or real, to subsume our God-given liberties in a soul-deadening statist power grab.
One final note for context, from our July 2008 post "The facts are irrelevant":
Then there's "libertarian paternalism," a subliminal approach to political persuasion that has "caught the imagination of top politicians" including Barack Obama, according to a breathless London Times interview of behavioral scientist Richard Thaler, co-author with Cass Sunstein of Nudge:
So why the political interest? Because you can influence people's choices without being accused of "nannying" and it is cheap. Or, as the authors put it: "If incentives and nudges replace requirements and bans, government will be both smaller and more modest … In short, libertarian paternalism is neither left nor right, neither Democratic nor Republican. In many areas, the most thoughtful Democrats are going beyond their enthusiasm for choice-eliminating programs. In many areas, the most thoughtful Republicans are abandoning their knee-jerk opposition to constructive governmental initiatives."
Considering ourselves among "the most thoughtful Republicans," we are skeptical. So is David Gordon of the Ludwig von Mises Intitute, who notes that "Tocqueville long ago warned against the policies of which libertarian paternalismm is an example."
As we said in the punchline to that post, "We're smart enough, Barack Obama. Oh, and we're not a racist."