An inspired rant
I listened to the whole thing Tuesday afternoon. The transcript doesn't convey the emotion in this segment.
Here's the quote that set off Rush:
OBAMA: If you're willing to put in the work, the idea is that you should be able to raise a family and own a home, not go bankrupt because you got sick, 'cause you've got some health insurance that helps you deal with those difficult times; that you can send your kids to college; that you can put some money away for retirement. That's all most people want. Folks don't have unrealistic ambitions. They do believe that, if they work hard, they should be able to achieve that small measure of an American dream.
That gets me to thinking about some recent musings on It's A Wonderful Life. Some people - including the President, apparently - think the moral of the film is that George Bailey had all that he needed. Piffle. George Bailey triumphs in having learned something he should have known all along, the difference he made to the community.
He also suffered real losses - dreams deferred, to borrow from Langston Hughes. (That poem may have had one particular community in mind, but despair is universal.) George Bailey the individual scarcely emerges in the film. All his major decisions (except his marriage) are in response to others' emergencies. That is not the end-all of life. There has to be a balance between the community and the individual.
George Bailey's lost dreams matter. He gave up interests he wanted to pursue. While he discovered some talents he didn't know he had (specifically, the business acumen behind the Bailey Park housing project, which was obviously profitable), he failed to discover what other talents that pursuing his dreams would have revealed.
We don't get to see what happens to George after the end of the film, but I like to think that those old dreams have a new lease on life. The business is solvent, the only complication being the inevitable revocation of Uncle Billy's surety bond - his role at the Building and Loan will have to involve something other than cash handling. George is still young, he has plenty of time to groom people who can run the business while he goes off on travels. (Travel tip: don't do that Jerusalem trip in 1948.)
Obama speaks of an American Dream where George Bailey's life doesn't change after Clarence gets his wings. What does this reveal about Obama? That he is either blind or indifferent toward much of human potential. Which means his policies will not take full human potential into account.
Just-enough-to-get-by politics is the way of Communism, European social democracy, and medieval feudalism. We can do better than that.