June 2, 2008

More Bam Feedback

Scott Johnson nicely rounds up some commentary on Obama's disregard for both the private economic sector and for the military as a worthwhile form of public service, in his recent commencement address. Reproducing here Scott's Thomas Sowell excerpt intact:

Every year about this time, big-government liberals stand up in front of college commencement crowds across the country and urge the graduates to do the noblest thing possible -- become big-government liberals.

That isn't how they phrase it, of course. Commencement speakers express great reverence for "public service," as distinguished from narrow private "greed." There is usually not the slightest sign of embarrassment at this self-serving celebration of the kinds of careers they have chosen -- over and above the careers of others who merely provide us with the food we eat, the homes we live in, the clothes we wear and the medical care that saves our health and our lives.

What I would like to see is someone with the guts to tell those students: Do you want to be of some use and service to your fellow human beings? Then let your fellow human beings tell you what they want -- not with words, but by putting their money where their mouth is.

You want to see more people have better housing? Build it! Become a builder or developer-- if you can stand the sneers and disdain of your classmates and professors who regard the very words as repulsive.

Would you like to see more things become more affordable to more people? Then figure out more efficient ways of getting thousands of things from the producers to the consumers at a lower cost. That's what a man named Richard Sears did a century ago. In the process he rose from near poverty to become one of the richest men around.

Bill Kristol in the Times

It can’t be that the possibility of military service as an admirable form of public service didn’t occur to Obama. Only the day before, Obama had been squabbling with John McCain about veterans’ benefits. He said then, “Obviously I revere our soldiers and want to make sure they are being treated with honor and respect.”

And the day after the Wesleyan commencement, Obama was in New Mexico, where he read an eloquent and appropriate Memorial Day tribute to our fallen soldiers.

But at an elite Northeastern college campus, Obama obviously felt no need to disturb the placid atmosphere of easy self-congratulation. He felt no need to remind students of a different kind of public service — one that entails more risks than community organizing. He felt no need to tell the graduating seniors in the lovely groves of Middletown that they should be grateful to their peers who were far away facing dangers on behalf of their country

Nor did Obama choose to mention all those college graduates who are now entering the military, either for a tour of duty or as a career, in order to serve their country. He certainly felt no impulse to wonder whether the nation wouldn’t be better off if R.O.T.C. were more widely and easily available on elite college campuses.

Obama failed to challenge — even gently — what he must have assumed would be the prejudices of much of his audience and indulged in a soft patriotism of low expectations.

Was this a public service?

Posted by dan at June 2, 2008 9:15 PM