As Obama gets under way in Chicago

I’ve seen Obama speak in Chicago in person–in 2008, at a church on the South Side. Obama often repeats a message of responsibility in these settings: parents should read to kids, kids should do their homework, young people should help their communities instead of hanging around in gangs, etc. That message of responsibility is part of what built support for Obama among suburbanites more used to hearing the usual grievance rhetoric from city politicians. I fully expect Obama to use the same language in his gun control (sorry, “economy”) speech today at a school in Hyde Park. I also expect to see the media fawning over it. And–all well and good, because more of that rhetoric is needed. The problem is more than rhetoric is needed, and Obama has done much to undermine the notion of individual responsibility to which he pays homage in these speeches.

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