Here is President Obama, in spontaneous (or, as spontaneous as he gets) remarks during the question and answer portion of a Town Hall meeting in Minnesota, defending government:
You'll hear a lot of folks, by the way, say that government is broken. Well, government and politics are two different things. Government is our troops who are fighting on our behalf in Afghanistan and Iraq. That's government. (Applause.) Government are also those FEMA folks when there's a flood or a drought or some emergency who come out and are helping people out. That's government. Government is Social Security. Government are teachers in the classroom. (Applause.) Government are our firefighters and our police officers, and the folks who keep our water clean and our air clean to breathe, and our agricultural workers. And when you go to a national park, and those folks in the hats -- that's government....don't buy into this whole notion that somehow government doesn't do us any good; government is what protects us. The government is what built the Interstate Highway System. Government is what sent a man to the Moon. It's what invested in the research and development that created innovations all across this country.
I find this to be a quite telling passage. Look at what Mr. Obama has to offer as examples of government success. First, the Afghanistan war, which has lasted for nearly ten years and which, without any disrespect to the troops, the president has said he wants to bring to a close. Second, the Iraq war, which President Obama opposed and ran promising to end. Third, FEMA — "heck of a job, Brownie." Fourth, "Government are ... our agricultural workers." Only in some Stalinesque fantasy of forced collectivization. Maybe Mr. Obama missed it, or maybe he was confusing the outreach employees of the agricultural extension service with actual farmers, but, farm subsidies aside, in America, "our agricultural workers" aren't government, they are family farmers or agribusiness. The Interstate Highway System destroyed urban neighborhoods and enabled environmentally destructive suburban sprawl, and, as Mr. Obama himself has often pointed out, it's in a state of disrepair. Mr. Obama himself has presided over the end of the government's high-profile manned space flight program and seen private initiative take over there. And the claim that government is "what invested in the research and development that created innovations all across this country" downplays the role of private investment and ingenuity in research, development, and innovation.
The claim that "government doesn't do us any good" is an Obama straw man. I like the National Park rangers, too (though I also like parks and historic sites run by non-governmental private groups). And I appreciate the role of government in enforcing the rule of law and in providing reliable forums for mediating private disputes. But I do find it striking that in defending government as being not broken, the best Mr. Obama can come up with is the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, FEMA, the Interstate Highways, and "our agricultural workers." That last one still leaves me shaking my head. "Our agricultural workers" I guess is what President Obama calls farmers. At least he didn't refer to them as reformed kulaks.