President Wonderful

The war that was hardly civil started 150 years ago this week. The War Between the States (or the War of Northern Aggression as my Alabama kinfolk call it) was not the first rebel vs. loyalist conflict on American soil.

Only four score and five years earlier, colonial patriots rejected the governance of the British crown because of the latter’s intrusion into the former’s affairs and accounts. History repeated itself in April 1861, when secessionists reached a tipping point and resisted their American central government. One could argue it was in their blood.

The bloodiest years of our nation’s history ensued. I have sympathies for both sides.

Though raised south of the Mason-Dixon, I named one of my sons after Abraham Lincoln. He bound up the Union and set captives free. Both were right to do. Both were noble missions, divine callings. Neither was government overreach, though I can understand it felt as much to a business owner whose business model and livelihood were being threatened.

Today, another president from Illinois isn’t satisfied with the freedom Lincoln ordered. He wants to care for all citizens from cradle to grave. He likely considers it a divine calling. Many consider it government overreach. Either way, it pushes us toward civil division.

I once gave my wife a gag gift: a talking doll named Mr. Wonderful. He was nicely dressed with full, dark hair. With the push of a button, he said unbelievably sensitive things like, “Here, honey; you take the remote tonight,” and “I don’t know where I’m going; let me stop to ask for directions.”

It hit me during his promised-laden budget speech this week: Barack Obama is President Wonderful. He simply added fiscal discipline to the federal government’s ever-growing list of things to do.

From high-speed Internet to health care access, from new roads to old-fashioned defense, from unemployment to retirement checks, from preschool to college to workforce training, no spending opportunity missed his purview.

Any other view of America is “deeply pessimistic,” he said, and disregards the “basic social compact” Americans have with each other.

In fine political fashion, the only government spending President Wonderful berated was that which Republicans orchestrated: prescription drugs for seniors. Mysterious criticism, considering he cared so much for seniors throughout the rest of his speech. He referenced Social Security eleven times, Medicare eighteen times.

Ultimately, President Wonderful wants to make the millionaires and billionaires pay “a little more.” News to President Wonderful: there aren’t enough xillionaires out there both to pay for your version of the American social compact and to repay our debts. Little people will pay, too.

As Lincoln knew, freedom for all is the American way. Government’s forcing a woman to “care for her neighbor” through tax and spend policies is not. It’s the European infatuation of a liberal idealogue.

As at other times in our nation’s history, a growing sum is willing to stand up to stop it.

Kevin W. Thompson is a former chief of staff in the Texas House of Representatives and is now Vice President of Texas Heritage Bank. Subscribe to his columns at

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