Not Exactly the Lion of the White House

After waxing lyrical about Ted Kennedy’s incrementalist approach to building the liberal welfare state, David Brooks takes an apparent detour to tell us:

We in this country have a distinct sort of society. We Americans work longer hours than any other people on earth. We switch jobs much more frequently than Western Europeans or the Japanese. We have high marriage rates and high divorce rates. We move more, volunteer more and murder each other more.

He can’t quite bring himself to spell it out, but he’s saying that Obama is no Ted Kennedy and that he’s out of touch with the essential character of America. (Brooks no doubt gets visited by a horde of White House spinners if he’s that explicit, but that’s the gist.)

Well, to be clear, much of what Kennedy advocated—including nationalized health care—hasn’t come about because Americans are resistant to much of modern liberalism’s agenda items, whether enacted bit by bit or in huge gulps. Nevertheless, Brooks’s take, however oblique, on Obama’s radicalism is on the mark. Centralizing power and reducing individual choice in a truth-serum-required campaign would sum up Obama’s goals. Cap-and-trade, ObamaCare, consumer regulation, financial bailouts, executive-compensation regimens, and car-company nationalization all demand the centralization of power and reduction of individual (or private sector) choice. Conversely, there isn’t a single initiative that pops to mind that features “mobility” or “individual responsibility.”

If this is really what Obama is all about, Brooks hawked the wrong candidate, and we’re in for a battle royale for the remainder of his presidency. It turns out Obama doesn’t appear to understand what America is all about.