William Murchison / June 9, 2009

The Rewards Of Hubris

So here, as if on cue, it being a new day and all, came the Obama administration Monday to announce new arrangements for the way the country does business.

The new big idea: Tell all those banks how much they’re going to be allowed to pay executives; let them know the gravy train leaves the track here and now; Washington has their number.

“The [bank pay] proposal,” says the New York Times, “is part of a broad set of regulations on executive compensation expected to be announced by the administration as early as this week.”

Father knows best, so sit still, kiddies. We bought, last election, into this arresting new way of living. It will be with us for a while. Until ..

Until, perhaps, the cut of the emperor’s new clothes becomes clear. Can’t say exactly how long that will take, but if I were high in the councils of the Obama administration I would be reading the Greeks for insights into the payback for hubris – that being the administration’s foremost product, evidenced as often as not in silken oratory.

The decree on executive compensation – which is to apply even to banks that have paid back their TARP loans and extricated themselves from the worst consequences of government oversight – is more of the same from the temple of Obama. More pride, more promising, more hubris: We’ll renew the auto industry and build fuel-efficient cars we defy Americans not to buy; we’ll knock together the Arabs’ and the Israelis’ heads; we’ll substitute water and wind for oil and coal in our energy calculus; we’ll “prepare every child, everywhere in America, to out-compete any worker, anywhere in the world.”

And of course – naturally, you bet – we’ll make health care available to every American: the project our do-everything administration has put on the fast track for this summer.

Various voters may wave their hats in the air and cry hooray. A different kind of sentiment overtakes others: the impulse to look for a storm cellar, because, brother, days of reckoning, when they arrive, aren’t pretty.

It seems pretty clear that just such a day will dawn soon for the Obama crew. Exact predictions are vain, but the Democrats, against their own reading of the case, are staring disaster in the face. They can’t deliver on all this: the harder they try, in instances such as health care, the graver grow the likely consequences for them, starting with loss of moral and intellectual credibility.

Health care indeed threatens to become our frisky administration’s banana peel – its first and central crisis; the one, possibly, that destroys public faith in the administration’s ability to do anything constructive. Not that the Democrats can’t pass a bill of some sort. It’s that they can’t pass one we can pay for, now or at any time in the future. The kind of bill that would provide uniformly excellent medical care to all Americans – at a time when Medicare, the last gargantuan entitlement program, nears impoverishment – is an ideal that doesn’t correspond to reality. Unless, to be sure, with true reforming zeal, we redefine. In that case, it’s enough to imagine that we can pay by taxing “the rich” or the policies that business now offers employees; or cutting medical costs (which already outstrip all other costs) by some magical means.

Some of it, in the technical sense, Congress can do – like raise taxes. What Congress can’t do is make Americans like the outcome when taxes rise and health care gets harder and costlier to procure.

Unassailable belief in the unassailable competence of government is the Obama administration’s signature tune. You hear it whenever the teleprompter powers up. Yes, we can! “Can” what? “Can” everything.

It is a remarkable moment we inhabit, but it can’t last. A coterie of – it would seem – cool Olympian deities has taken upon itself the remaking of America: failing to appreciate the built-in limits of competence and exertion.

The gods always were mythological. They just didn’t know it.


Start a conversation using these share links:

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!


“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2022 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.