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Video: Author on Obama ‘Catastrophe’

TODAY books
updated 7/2/2009 9:31:13 AM ET 2009-07-02T13:31:13

In their latest book, “Catastrophe,” Dick Morris and Eileen McGann say that President Barack Obama is in the process of implementing a radical political agenda. After he wins the war on prosperity and cancels the war on terror, the authors say, it will be too late to regain liberty and security. An excerpt.

Chapter one: Obama’s war on prosperity
Last year, in " Fleeced ," we predicted the disaster in which we now find ourselves. But who could have predicted the steps Barack Obama would take to turn this disaster into a catastrophe?

President Obama pledges to bring us back to prosperity, to end the recession. But his policies are likely to do the opposite — possibly casting us into a full-scale, long-lasting depression. At the very least, his huge spending will bring inflation and even more economic pain. And, in so many ways, Obama’s program undermines the very business confidence that will be essential to restoring normal economic activity.

We are hostage to an ideologue who wants to use this crisis — not solve it — to promote his dogmatic agenda.

How did we let things get this far?

Hiding in plain sight: How Obama got into power
From the moment he first realized he could win the presidency, Barack Obama has known exactly what he would do in the Oval Office. He just wasn’t sure how to pull it off.

He told us his agenda with unusual specificity and elaboration. He hid nothing. He pulled no punches. Not for him the tack taken by Charles de Gaulle as the anxious French pressed him for his agenda before assuming power in 1957. “When I achieve power,” de Gaulle replied haughtily, “I will know what to do with it.” Obama not only knew what he wanted to do; he told everyone who would listen. If he hid his program, he did it in plain sight.

But most of America wasn’t listening. Enthralled by his charisma and the trappings of his candidacy, they tuned out his program and mindlessly applauded his sound bites. Willfully suspending skepticism, they eagerly believed his superficial promises to change the way Washington worked, to exclude the lobbyists and special interests, and to end partisan bickering.

Only after he was elected, when we started to see him appoint lobbyist after lobbyist and ride roughshod over the Republican opposition, did we come to realize that these vague commitments were just the window dressing on his program. The parsley around the meat.

But his program was never obscured. In a mind-numbing series of debates with his fellow Democrats, he spelled it out for us all to hear.

But we weren’t paying attention to the boring programmatic details. How much more exciting it was to focus on the fact that we were witnessing the end of the color bar that first blighted America centuries ago, when the early slaves stepped onto these shores in chains. How much more thrilling to watch Barack Obama overcome the inevitable nominee, Hillary Clinton, by outsmarting her, defeating her, and making a mash of her strategy. What a relief to watch Mrs. Clinton’s ill-conceived focus on experience, in what was clearly a moment that called for change, backfire on her.

But what change did Obama represent? The truth was hard for us to accept: that the man who was marching inexorably to the White House was a genuine radical from Harvard and Chicago. We heard the rantings of Reverend Jeremiah Wright and the stories Sean Hannity told about William Ayers, but we wouldn’t believe the clues. The conclusion was too horrible. Were we really about to elect a man who would change not just Washington but our values, our nation, and our own lives?

But the program lay out there in the sun day after day. It never varied. Obama never temporized. He trimmed his tax proposals from time to time and waffled on details of his national security stance, but the basic thrust of his administration was as clear on the day he announced his candidacy in Springfield, Illinois, as it was when he spelled it out in his first address to Congress as president.

Most presidential candidates don’t bother. Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and John F. Kennedy all took office with only a vague idea of what they would do with the power. George W. Bush told us what he had in mind, but the agenda was so limited that it never much mattered. In our recent past, only Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan took office with as clear an idea of what they wanted to achieve. And, like both of these presidents, Obama did not trouble to hide his proposals as he campaigned for the job. Like Johnson and Reagan, Obama let it all hang out.

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Didn’t he plainly and frankly tell us that he would:

• Socialize health care

• Raise taxes sharply on those making over $200,000

• Raise capital gains taxes on high-income people

• Block the repeal of the estate tax

• Raise the Social Security payroll tax so everyone (or practically everyone) will have to pay it on his or her whole income

• Rebuild our infrastructure regardless of cost

• Pour money into alternative energy sources but go slow on nuclear power

• Pull out of Iraq

• End tough interrogations of terror suspects

• Dramatically increase federal spending

• Weaken the standards in the No Child Left Behind Act

• Push legislation allowing unions to organize without secret ballots

• Call for immigration legislation granting amnesty to most illegal immigrants already here

• Extend health care benefits to all legal immigrants, even those recently legitimized by his own amnesty plan

• Sharply increase aid to states and cities

• Change the ownership and rules of talk radio

• Shift our stance from support of Israel to greater sympathy for the Palestinian position

• Increase regulation of business

• Do more to regulate executive pay

• Weaken welfare reform

• Cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans while raising them sky high on the rest.

• Tax hedge fund and real estate partnership earnings as ordinary income

• Cap and trade legislation to charge utilities and industries for their carbon output

• Revise NAFTA and restrict free trade

Video: Author on Obama ‘Catastrophe’ (on this page) This agenda was not new. It was a greatest-hits collection that revived proposals made by the Democratic-union Left for the past thirty years. But since Lyndon Johnson, and especially in the wake of Ronald Reagan, no Democratic president had dared to embrace it. Even with a Democratic Congress, Bill Clinton pursued only a small part of the liberal program. Politics, after all, is the art of the possible — and, in political terms, the labor/ left agenda was clearly impossible.

Obama camouflaged his domestic agenda behind the single overshadowing position of opposition to the war in Iraq. His emphasis on this theme — as opposed to the changes he contemplated at home — distracted us from the essential radicalism of his agenda. Obama may not have been another Bill Ayers or Jeremiah Wright, but he was clearly another Walter Mondale, Jimmy Carter, and Michael Dukakis. He just couldn’t let anyone know.

The swelling casualty count in Iraq disenchanted Americans and distracted them from the importance of preserving our national security. Isolationism and obliviousness to the obvious costs of a premature pullout became the order of the day. As public opinion moved to the left, driven by the incompetence of George W. Bush’s war strategy, Obama seemed to offer a reasonable alternative. His antiwar position — once easily dismissed as turning tail — now looked like a rational position.

The war was an issue that would ratify Obama’s liberalism as centrist, and it gave him the opportunity to hide his radical domestic agenda behind his antiwar rhetoric. As Hillary’s more security-minded position stalled in the mud, Obama’s idealistic stance rode a national wave of war fatigue.

But then a funny thing happened: We started to win in Iraq. Guided by the new strategy of General David Petraeus and the surge in troop strength, the issue began to go away. By the late summer of 2008, Obama was left high and dry by the shifting tide — and his radical agenda threatened to attract newfound, and unwelcome, attention.

Excerpted from “Catastrophe” by Dick Morris and Eileen McGann. Copyright (c) 2009, reprinted with permission from HarperCollins.

© 2012 MSNBC Interactive

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