Our president is a wordsmith.
Syllables are notes on a scale for Barack Obama, played deliberately and elegantly. He hears music when he speaks and so do we. The notes he chooses are revealing. He seldom plays what he does not intend.
As his inaugural address floated down the National Mall from the steps of the U.S. Capitol, we heard this comforting refrain: "We have never ... succumbed to the fiction that all society's ills can be cured through government alone."
The casual listener may have heard a call for balance and moderation, but the president's composition was breathtakingly radical.
There is no situation, he informed us, in which government is not indispensably needed. Sometimes, it may require a little help: Society's ills can't "be cured through government alone."
This president's audacity is no longer hope: Obama is pursuing a spectacularly bold and activist, big-government agenda.
He opposes austerity only for Washington: His attempt to protect our bloated government from the "sequester" was ferocious. Obama's apocalyptic warnings that the automatic budget cuts would "gut critical investments in ... education and national security" could make a professional alarmist such as Al Gore jealous.
Obama confronted the sequester deadline like a surgeon who could not bring himself to wield his scalpel upon a member of his own family. He rejected the authority to target the spending cuts himself, though he had called the alternative "a meat cleaver approach."
For Obama, taking personal responsibility for sparing one government program and not another was "Sophie's Choice": He loves them all equally and endlessly.
In this president's world, our government should never shrink. His vision of social equality requires expanding social programs to bring the poor up and higher taxes to bring the rich down.
Our only choice, to deal with the world's increasing complexity, is more political and artificial instruction from our antiquated, top-down public sector. This industrial age president tells us we have no alternative but government growth and the Washington do-gooding he terms "collective action."
Obama sees a changing world. He would change America to match his vision of it. What he doesn't see is the institution most in need of transformation: the government under his command.
Republican or Democrat, we would all like to see a new era of progress and prosperity for our country. We all hope this president will allow our economy to be as successful as his campaigns were.
To that end, perhaps we should explore if there is another, more modern way to deal with our evolving challenges and their accumulated complexity.
Years ago, in another essay, I offered the advice that follows to President Bill Clinton. Since Obama has dragged the Democratic Party back to the pre-Clinton, old Democrat "era of big government," I offer it again, with only modest revision. Let's discuss government in a way most of us can understand.
Let's talk about sex.
Hell of a mess, isn't it? Risky and inefficient. The eternal conflict between the sexes. The time wasted on courtship. So many failed relationships and so few successful ones. Why does Mother Nature spend such energy on the mating dance: The gravitational tug of brightly colored feathers or a sequined inaugural gown?
Half the genes here, half the genes there. The ungainly act required to mix those genes together. Is it all necessary?
Why are there two sexes? Wouldn't it be more efficient if, like the amoeba, there were but one? Perhaps, inspired by his Affordable Care Act, this president could lead the country to a "single-payer" sexual system? Wouldn't it spare us unnecessary expense and anxiety? Surely the architects of Obamacare could contrive a less troublesome method of reproduction, designing the thing from scratch.
Biologists have great jobs: They think about sex and explore such questions. Their answers, conveniently, boil down to this: Inefficiency and failure have advantages. For all its uncertainty, there are vast benefits in the tumultuous chaos of sex.
Through the rich differences between male and female, the reshuffling and recombining of genes, life finds its way forward. Male meets female, they shuffle the genetic cards and bang! Amphibians walk out of the water. Monkeys develop opposable thumbs. Man learns to walk upright. Shuffle the cards again and sex finds pathways around diseases and mutating viruses that would otherwise extinguish us. Another genetic shuffle and man learns to master the use of tools: a piece of flint, the spear, a Twitter app.
The chaotic jumble of sex is nature's creative secret. It allows change, adaptability and advancement. The cost, however, is astounding. For every evolutionary change or mutation that succeeds, there are hundreds, perhaps millions of dead-end journeys. One eagle survives a thousand dodo birds.
The alternative to nature's undisciplined creativity, however, is rigidity, paralysis and decline. Asexual reproduction is a short and stagnant avenue, an unimaginative path that leads no further than the amoeba.
It is a shame no one ever took Obama to a drive-in movie on a sultry, summer night to teach him this important lesson -- and explain how it applies, not just to the birds and bees, but to society and economics, as well.
Nature advances through the wasteful confusion of sex. Economies advance through the noisy jumble of the free market. Science advances not just through reason, but in random leaps of inspiration. Some species and businesses and scientific experiments fail. Others march forward. Life advances not despite chaos, but because of it. There is no chance for success, it seems, where there is no risk of failure.