Who is Harold Hill? Harold Hill is the name of the consummate con artist in Meredith Wilson’s classic work The Music Man, who skillful use of words and misdirecting the attention of people enables him to control an entire community purely for his own benefit.
Barack Obama is often described as being an acolyte of Saul Alinsky, but it seems that, in addition to reading Rules for Radicals, he has spent a lot of time in front of the television watching a DVD of The Music Man to fine tune his mastery of Harold Hill’s techniques for misdirection.
Three statements in President Obama’s jobs speech to a joint session of Congress seem to have been overlooked by commentators, pundits and those who blog in the middle of the night. If these folks had been paying attention they would have heard the echoes of Harold Hill emanating from the podium.
The President’s first statement conflates the standard call from Liberal-Progressive-Democrats (L-P-Ds) for vast increases in infrastructure spending. This was an appeal aimed at satisfying the ever present union demands to limit international trade and increase jobs covered under the Davis-Bacon Act.
“Building a world-class transportation system is part of what made us a economic superpower. And now we’re going to sit back and watch China build newer airports and faster railroads? At a time when millions of unemployed construction workers could build them right here in America?”
Shocking isn’t it? China, with a population of over one billion people (three times the population of the United States), is building airports and railroads. One has to ask, though, are these newer airports better than those that already exist here? Or are they just newer? How many airports are there currently per capita in China versus per capita in America?
How many miles of railroad track exist in China per capita versus the mileage per capita in America? How do China’s railroads strategically threaten U.S. security? And just how fast are these newer railroads and what are are they going to be faster than? Airplanes or ox carts?
From the President’s tone, one is only able to infer that newer airports in China and faster railroads represent an economic threat to the United States, but not exactly how.
Or perhaps the President is worried for his union base that some Republican governor, secretly being controlled by some Svengali from the Tea Party, plans to import an airport made with cheap Asian labor thus threatening union jobs.
Obama then moves on to the question of our health and safety that is being protected by government regulations.
“But what we can’t do — what I will not do — is let this economic crisis be used as an excuse to wipe out the basic protections that Americans have counted on for decades. I reject the idea that we need to ask people to choose between their jobs and their safety. I reject the argument that says for the economy to grow, we have to roll back protections that ban hidden fees by credit card companies, or rules that keep our kids from being exposed to mercury, …”
So the President says that he wants to make sure that regulations that provide “…rules that keep our kids from being exposed to mercury, …” are not rolled back. Really?
His administration is the one that is demanding that all of us convert from antique incandescent light bulbs (the kind that are causing the polar bears to all drown, or die of heat prostration or something) to the expensive CFL fluorescent bulbs (which are made by one of his most ardent (and generous) supporters – purely by coincidence, to be sure) which each contain toxic levels of mercury. These new bulbs are to be used in homes with small children, and Obama’s own EPA has issued directions of how to clean up this toxic brew in the event that one of these new bulbs is broken that would tend to terrify the average person, forcing each of us to ask, “Just how dangerous are these things?”
The President’s third statement in the Harold Hill trifecta that appeared in the jobs speech was this:
“Ask yourselves — where would we be right now if the people who sat here before us decided not to build our highways, not to build our bridges, our dams, our airports? What would this country be like if we had chosen not to spend money on public high schools, or research universities, or community colleges? Millions of returning heroes, including my grandfather, had the opportunity to go to school because of the G.I. Bill. Where would we be if they hadn’t had that chance?
How many jobs would it have cost us if past Congresses decided not to support the basic research that led to the Internet and the computer chip? What kind of country would this be if this chamber had voted down Social Security or Medicare just because it violated some rigid idea about what government could or could not do?”
Read the end of that last sentence again. “ … just because it violated some rigid idea about what government could or could not do?”
This is the best of the Harold Hill statements in this speech. The “rigid” ideas of what the government can and can not do are not, as he would like us to believe, the product of some deranged Tea Party political philosophy. What the government can do and cannot do are both clearly and rigidly defined in a little thing called the Constitution of the United States. And President Hill, er, Obama, would have us agree to toss the Constitution under the bus. Ignore it because it’s just too inconvenient in terms of allowing him to rule by whim.
The only hope we have is that Obama, like Harold Hill, will be exposed for what he truly is, not a leader, but a glib charlatan. And to paraphrase Governor Perry, we can only hope that Obama will be treated “ugly” in November of next year and not just by Texans.
Let me just say that, yes, this is my blog, but I honestly wanted it to be a forum to discuss the issues of the day (or week, month, year…whatever). But you, dear reader, need to respond. A conversation where only one person is speaking is not an exchange of ideas, it’s merely a lecture…or worse, it is just a sermon.
Please feel free to use the comments section or even rate this particular blog entry. I can’t improve without honest critiques, and only the reader can note where I might have gone wrong, or where I should have expanded the ideas.
Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll join the conversation.