What Tradition of Public Service Is Obama Talking About?

For some reason, I couldn’t get the expression “cue laugh track” out of my head after reading the following comment from Obama: “We have to reclaim a tradition of public service that is about people and their lives and their hopes and their dreams, and it isn’t about what’s in it for me.”

This comes, of course, from the same guy who hired Rahm Emanuel as his chief gatekeeper. Even my liberal friends would never try to claim that Emanuel, already notorious for mailing a dead fish to an opponent, represents such a “tradition.” Leaving that aside, what are the details of this historical tradition that Obama is trying to reclaim?

David Beito is a Research Fellow at The Independent Institute and editor of the Independent book, The Voluntary City: Choice, Community, and Civil Society (with Peter Gordon and Alexander Tabarrok).
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