Monday, February 9, 2015


He is a believer in the divine truth of things; a seer, seeing through the shows of things; a worshipper, in one way or another, of the divine truth of things.

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), On Heroes and Hero Worship

David Axelrod (born 1955), is coming out with a book Believer: My Forty Years in Politics, to be released on February 10 by Penguin Press for $25.55 in hardcover and $12.99 on Kindle.

Axelrod, former senior advisor to President Obama, is now a political consultant and director of The Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago. Axelrod prides himself on being an advocate of racial equality, a champion of social organizing of minorities, and an admirer of President Obama.

Axelrod and Obama rode the right horses to fame and glory, and the horses were not high horses at the time they saddled them. Their horses were, if I may mix a metaphor, underdogs.

The President, as the moment, is riding a number of horses – foreign policy horses, like Ukraine and ISIS: domestic policy horses, like immigration and ObamaCare.

At last week’s prayer meeting in Washington, the President said we should not get on a Christian “high horse” in judging other believers. We should put things in historical context. We are all sinners and should not caste stones.

In his words,

"Lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”

True enough. But that was 900 years ago. The tragic lesson today is that one’s beliefs still drives evil actions, including beheadings and burning people alive. The President believes he cannot change the action of others.

Government can only do what it can do. With the President and Axelrod, the belief is in the power of government’s central role is domestic: to change society, achieve equality of outcomes, and shape social justice. Government cannot be all things to all peoples, but it can try to do too many things for too many people. There are never enough rich people, for example, to support any general welfare program.

The President's beliefs result in certain attitudes and policies – humility, even guilt and apologies, about America’s place in the world, empathy towards the actions of various religions, and higher taxes and more regulations of the have’s versus the have-nots.

There is nothing wrong with these beliefs, of course, but government initiatives and actions do have consequences – some positive, some negative .

Individual freedoms, private entrepreneurship, consumer choices, and market-driven economic growth and prosperity are equally important. So are pride in one’s country, its culture, and its exceptionalism.

I look forward to David Axelrod’s book, particularly his portrait of Obama , what the believes in and what he thinks his hero’s legacy will be.

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