Go read the great Steyn's weekend column and then pop back over here.
Done? Okay, this part:
Whoever’s writing Obama’s speeches these days either has a tin ear — you don’t “issue” goals, you set them — or he has a very refined sense of the ersatz nature of contemporary political discourse. Old-school monarchs issued “edicts.” One thinks of King Charles the Bald in his Edict of Pistres in a.d. 864, announcing among other things that henceforth selling a horse to a Viking would be punishable by death. No doubt the odd equine transaction slipped through the regulatory net, but historians seem to agree that the sale of mounts to Norsemen certainly diminished. And more to the point his courtiers would have thought Charles the Bald was an even bigger schmuck than they already did if, instead of an edict, he was issuing a new goal to reduce the sale of horses to Vikings by 50 percent by the year 884."People seem to like this sort if thing." Indeed they do, showing again and again their preference for a show, a performance, an act, however phony and unconvincing, to anything real. (Another thing people seem to like are displays of egotism, but that's a topic for another day.) See Steyn's January 25 column for more on America's troubling preference for fakery. A society that has lost its taste for reality can't be headed anywhere good, can it?
These days, the edicts are issued by commissars deep in the bowels of the hyper-regulatory state, and most of them are, like King Charles, a little too bald in their assumptions of government power to be bandied in polite society. So, in public, the modern ruler issues goals, orders dreams, commands unicorns. People seem to like this sort of thing. No accounting for taste, but there we are.
Update: About that egotism, just posted on the Corner: Steyn on Presidential Modesty. I've lost track of how many times Obama has lamented his lack of absolute power, but it's a theme that pops up fairly regularly in his declamations.
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