The Obama presidency increasingly resembles a modern-day Ancien Régime: extravagant and out of touch with the American people
Nile Gardiner is a Washington-based foreign affairs analyst and political commentator. He appears frequently on American and British television and radio, including Fox News Channel, CNN, BBC, Sky News, and NPR
What the great French historian Alexis de Tocqueville would make of today’s Obama administration were he alive today is anyone’s guess. But I would wager that the author of L’Ancien Régime and Democracy in America would be less than impressed with the extravagance and arrogance on display among the White House elites that rule America as though they had been handed some divine right to govern with impunity.
It is the kind of impunity that has been highlighted on the world stage this week by Michelle Obama’s hugely costly trip to Spain, which has prompted a New York Post columnist Andrea Tantaros to dub the First Lady a contemporary Marie Antoinette. As The Telegraph reports, while the Obamas are covering their own vacation expenses such as accommodation, the trip may cost US taxpayers as much as $375,000 in terms of secret service security and flight costs on Air Force Two.
The timing of this lavish European vacation could not have come at a worse moment, when unemployment in America stands at 10 percent, and large numbers of Americans are fighting to survive financially in the wake of the global economic downturn. It sends a message of indifference, even contempt, for the millions of Americans who are struggling just to feed their families on a daily basis and pay the mortgage, while the size of the national debt balloons to Greek-style proportions.
While the liberal-dominated US mainstream media have largely ignored the story, it is all over the blogosphere and talk radio, and will undoubtedly add to the President’s free falling poll ratings. As much as the media establishment turn a blind eye to stories like this, which are major news in the international media, the American public is increasingly turning to alternative news sources, including the British press, which has a far less deferential approach towards the White House.
The First Lady’s ill-conceived trip to Marbella and the complete disregard for public opinion and concerns over excessive government spending is symbolic of a far wider problem with the Obama presidency – the overarching disdain for the principles of limited government, individual liberty and free enterprise that have built the United States over the course of nearly two and a half centuries into the most powerful and free nation on earth.
It is epitomised above all by the President’s relentless drive towards big government against the will of the American people, and the dramatic increases in government spending and borrowing, which threaten to leave the US hugely in debt for generations. It is also showcased by Barack Obama’s drive towards a socialised health care system, which, as I’ve noted before, is “a thinly disguised vanity project for a president who is committed to transforming the United States from the world’s most successful large-scale free enterprise economy, to a highly interventionist society with a massive role for centralized government.”
There is however a political revolution fast approaching Washington that is driven not by mob rule but by the power of ideas and principles, based upon the ideals of the Founding Fathers and the US Constitution. It is a distinctly conservative revolution that is sweeping America and is reflected in almost every poll ahead of this November’s mid-terms. It is based on a belief in individual liberty, limited government, and above all, political accountability from the ruling elites. The Obama administration’s mantra may well be “let them eat cake”, as it continues to gorge itself on taxpayers’ money, but it will be looking nervously over its shoulder as public unease mounts.