- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 27, 2011

President Obama seems to have cribbed his new campaign theme from Newt Gingrich, or maybe Saddam Hussein.

In his State of the Union address, Mr. Obama rolled out “winning the future” as his latest signature theme and political brand. He employed the expression or variations on it 10 times, mostly to justify continued government activism. “We can’t win the future with a government of the past,” he proclaimed, before outlining more of the many ways he thinks Washington should dominate American life.

The president’s new favorite expression is also the title of a 2005 book by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, “Winning the Future: A 21st Century Contract With America,” which put less emphasis on the government for ushering in future prosperity and more on private initiatives, American businesses, families and faith. When it comes to the future, there is more than one campaign plan.

Winning the future – or as Sarah Palin quickly abbreviated it, WTF – has been used in American political rhetoric dating back to the 19th century and was particularly common during and shortly after World War II. American journalist Max Lerner popularized it with a speech in 1943 that he gave in various incarnations for decades. There are, however, some unsavory connections as well. Mr. Obama said, “If we want to win the future … then we also have to win the race to educate our kids.” This echoes Communist revolutionary Vladimir Ilyich Lenin’s dictum, “We must win the youth if we are to win the future,” a common saying in Marxist circles, which also was adopted by Saddam Hussein, who notably lost his future.

Winning the future is a worthy goal – it’s better than the alternative – but there is no reason to think Mr. Obama can lead us there. The president is a true believer in the idea that the state should be the guiding force in society, that the government is an unqualified source of good, and that all the challenges American society faces are Big Brother’s to solve. His heart, his soul, his intellect are defined by the impulse to place government at the center of American life.

The most obvious reason Mr. Obama cannot win America’s future is because he doesn’t appreciate America’s past. This president has no emotional grasp or intuitive understanding of how freedom, personal initiative and private enterprise define the American character. His claim to be able to usher in the winning future is highly suspect; Mr. Obama has never held a real job, never faced the challenges of running a business, never invented anything but himself.

The president doesn’t even seem to believe America deserves victory. During his trip to India in November, he acknowledged the decline of the United States as the world’s dominant power and implied that this was probably a good thing. He repeatedly has praised the rise of Communist China on the world stage, and in Tuesday’s speech he held up the policies of the People’s Republic as an example the United States should follow. He says he wants to win the future but bows to second-rate status as inevitable.

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