Hurray for Washington!

“Bread and circuses” anyone?

The culmination of last night’s Oscars broadcast with a Live! feed from the White House with Mrs. Obama (hangin’ with her military BFs) marks the official recognition of the Presidency as theater: like the old Western sets, no substance required.

From the very beginning, President Obama was elected based on his strong delivery of stirring words, “Hope and change,” with no serious vetting of his record or policies. Having been awarded the presidency, as the Oscars follow the Golden Globes, Mr. Obama was next awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, solely for his well-scripted promises for peace.

And thus the facade continues: promising peace and delivering expanded war, with new frontiers broken for drone killings of children and other innocents, legal justifications crafted for killing Americans, and near-limitless executive power over nearly every aspect of our lives. Reciting the Progressive line while delivering impoverishment, decreased access and less-affordable healthcare, clearly it matters only what he says, not what is. His hoped-for next act: new goals of gun control that would make the most vulnerable more so, an increased minimum wage that would further exacerbate the inability of those with no work experience to get an entry-level job in which to hone the skills that will put them on the economic ladder, and “green” measures, based, like the Life of Pi, on computer-generated fantasy so much more appealing than dry real-world data.

But it’s OK. The Obamas make us feel good about ourselves, and, after all, that’s what Hollywood, er, Washington, is all about.

Of course, this didn’t start with this administration. Mr. Bush is still hailed a “conservative,” despite having perpetrated preemptive war based on an only-in-Washington scenario of mysterious WMDs, setting off the executive power avalanche that’s really rolling now, and quadrupling the size of the federal government.

But the trend certainly seems to be finding its culmination in the currently reigning stars of the White House—and it’s certainly not one that’s healthy for the ticket-paying audience.

Mary L. G. Theroux is Chairman and Chief Executive of the Independent Institute.
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