Views on the News
January 30, 2010
Views on the News*
In a speech that signaled his intention to “start anew,” perhaps the most notable feature of President Obama’s first-ever State of the Union address was how remarkably stale and boring it sounded. Against the backdrop of plummeting poll ratings and the election of a Republican Senator in Democrat-friendly Massachusetts – an unmistakable message about the broad unpopularity of the policies supported by the administration and its allies in the Democratic Congress – President Obama last night hewed to a partisan playbook that can only be described as business as usual. Hope and change obviously hasn't worked, so now it's time for some good old-fashioned smoke and mirrors. Obama’s State of the union address had three goals:
· First, he needed to quell the unrest among his most liberal supporters on Capitol Hill who have spent the first year of his term running amok and are now feeling the heat generated by the TEA Party movement and Americans’ distrust of government. These Democrats will have to choose between meeting his demands and being re-elected in November.
· Second, he had to chart a clear course toward economic recovery. Instead of creating jobs about three million Americans lost their jobs since Obama took office, so he tried to convince Americans that more government spending bill was needed.
· Third, he needed to repair the damage to national security that his specific, premeditated actions have caused. He offered nothing to inspire either ally or adversary.
· In summary he failed on each count.
He meandered for more than 70 minutes, ending up with a speech that seemed to be mostly about himself. Obama used the words “my” or “mine” 18 times and “I” 88 times, better than once a minute. He offered only platitudes and failed policies on job creation and little more on controlling spending. Although the President talked about deficit reduction he offered no real plan to accomplish it. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported this week that the current 10% unemployment rate is no closer to receding in the near term. Not acknowledging that his stimulus spending has elongated the Great recession, Obama bragged about his mythical “saved or created jobs” and asked for a third “stimulus” spending bill, this time masquerading as a “jobs bill.” Add to that a runaway national debt expected to triple to $22 trillion over the next decade, much of it caused by government spending, and it’s not surprising that Americans are dissatisfied with the administration’s stewardship of the economy. The president did little to boost their confidence. Some of Obama’s assertions on his domestic agenda were so preposterous that members of Congress laughed at the President. Equally unfortunate was the president’s penchant, once again on display, for caricaturing and distorting the arguments of his political opponents. While Republicans like Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan have offered innovative solutions for reforming high-cost government programs and restraining government spending, the President simply repeated his standard jibe that the GOP is “just saying no to everything” and offering no proposals of their own. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, himself a beneficiary of the populist backlash against the administration, paid a modest compliment to the intelligence of the American people and performed a legitimate public service when he used his rebuttal to call attention to the website of Republican policy proposals. Indeed, McDonnell’s response was a textbook example of the kind of respectful and genuinely conciliatory tone that the president seems to endorse only in theory. Unusually for Obama’s scripted speeches, the State of the Union showed a spectacular lack of self-awareness. Concluding his remarks, the President lamented that Americans have lost faith in the country’s institutions, not least the government itself, and he obviously doesn’t understand that he is a big part of the problem!
(“Obama defiant” by Jacob Laksin dated January 28, 2010 published by Front Page Magazine at http://frontpagemag.com/2010/01/28/obama-defiant/ “
“Obama’s 2010 SOTU” by Jed Babbinb dated January 28, 2010 published by Human Events at http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=35369
“White House Panic Week Yields No Change in Direction” by Howard Rich dated January 29, 2010 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/HowardRich/2010/01/29/white_house_panic_week_yields_no_change_in_direction “Let Me Be Clear: It Was a Boring Speech” by Rich Tucker dated January 29, 2010 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/RichTucker/2010/01/29/let_me_be_clear_it_was_a_boring_speech )
Democrats voted for a Messiah who would finally lead them to the liberal “promised land,” but his first year in office has revealed Obama as just a man behind a polished façade with flawed ideas. Beginning in the campaign and continued in his first year in office, the White House has been selling a myth about the President’s ideology, capacities, and temperament. The Obama Myth rests on three assumptions: (a) Obama is a nonideological pragmatist; (b) Obama is an uncommonly powerful communicator; and (c) Obama has a gut connection with the people. Unfortunately all three assumptions are wrong:
· The False Pragmatist - Obama campaigned on a bipartisan platform of post-ideological problem-solving. This might be true—if by “pragmatist” they mean a committed liberal who is willing to sign legislation passed by razor-thin, partisan margins. Obama has dismissed conservativesi ideas because conservative ideas do not meet his ideological commitments.
· The Not-so-Great Communicator - “Obama is the Democrats’ Great Communicator, our Ronald Reagan,” the editor of Salon wrote in February 2009. In 2009 the President gave dozens of televised townhall meetings, speeches, and press conferences to muster support for his proposals. The “international community” was also supposed to fall under Obama’s spell, but Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran have proven themselves deaf to Obama’s words, as well.
· The Lecturer in Chief - Obama is cool, unflappable, intellectual, but the personality traits that made him attractive to so many as a candidate have not worn well as President. Since 2008, there have been three moments when the man-of-the-people looked more like the lecturer-from-Hyde Park. The first was during the campaign, when Obama famously told fundraisers in San Francisco that the folks in “small towns in Pennsylvania” can “get bitter” and “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” The speech was pure liberal condescension. Then there was Obama’s July 2009 remark that the Cambridge police had behaved “stupidly” when they arrested Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates on the porch of his own home. The public reaction to his comment, which tripped over race, class, and educational lines, forced the president to call his hastily arranged “beer summit” at the White House, with Gates, Officer Joe Crowley, and Biden as props. More recently, when Obama appeared alongside Martha Coakley at a last-minute rally in Boston, the president ridiculed Scott Brown’s pickup truck: Obama mocked it and therefore became the voice of entrenched power. Obama has fallen into a trap that ensnares many intelligent people. He is so convinced of his opinions that he dismisses all contrary thinking as bizarre, dishonest, or fake. Obama characterized the American people as “a bunch of emotional basket cases who have no grasp of public policy and no ability to distinguish between Bush Republicans and Obama Democrats.”
The President's relentless reliance on tele-prompters has become a national joke, building the impression that America elected a reader when it needs a leader. He is becoming an urban legend of mythical proportions that when his persona is finally examined proves to be false and superficial. Obama pledges to keep on fighting, but pushing harder for ruinously bad policies is not populism; it is political suicide. The only question is whether Obama and the Democrats will learn their lesson, or will the people be forced to give them another lesson in November?
(“Obama’s loose grip on reality” dated January 26, 2010 published by The Washington Times at http://washingtontimes.com/news/2010/jan/26/obamas-loose-grip-on-reality/
“The Real Obama” by Matthew Continetti dated February 1, 2010 published by The Weekly Standard at http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/real-obama )
It is dangerous for Obama to believe too strongly in his own charisma and persuasiveness, especially in a world that sees through his façade of invincibility to see a weak socialist. In September, Obama paid a semi-impromptu visit to Copenhagen to make a personal appeal for Chicago's 2016 Olympic bid… it failed. Obama was back in Copenhagen a couple of months later, this time for the U.N.'s climate summit… it too was a fiasco of failed expectations. In fact, Obama's first year in office amounts to a long parade of rebuffs. His inaugural address famously offered the world's dictators an outstretched hand in exchange for an unclenched fist:
· From North Korea, he got missile and nuclear tests.
· From Iran, he got a contemptuous rejection of his extraordinary offer to enrich uranium for them.
· From Cuba, Fidel Castro said that "the empire's real intentions are obvious, this time beneath the kindly smile and African-American face of Barack Obama."
· From Venezuela, Hugo Chávez is now comparing Obama to the devil, a shtick he first tried out on George W. Bush back when liberals thought it was kind of funny.
Of course these are America's enemies, so we probably should not have expected better even if Obama seemed to believe we might. What about our (ostensible) non-enemies?
· The President preemptively conceded the Czech and Polish missile-defense bases to Russia in hopes of getting Moscow to take a tougher line on Tehran's nuclear programs, but the Kremlin isn't biting.
· China isn’t biting either, never mind Obama's gratuitous snub last year of the Dalai Lama.
· After major conciliatory speeches and actions to the Muslim world, the 2009 Pew Global Survey found that Muslim nations still do not have favorable views on the U.S.
And then there are America's friends.
· Hondurans will not soon forgive the administration's efforts to shove ex-president Manuel Zelaya down their throats.
· Among Israelis suspicion of President Obama is pervasive.
· In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy wonders aloud, "Est-il faible?" (Is he weak?)
Obama's real problems is that he believes too much in the power of charisma itself and specifically too much in his own. He seems to have come to office believing that America's problems abroad could mainly be put down to the rough-edged persona of his predecessor. Change the president, change the tone, give magnificent speeches, tinker with the policy, and the world would revert to some default mode of liking America and wanting to work with it. Unfortunately politics doesn't work that way and personal salesmanship is not the cure all. Maybe Obama does suffer from the “Copenhagen Syndrome” – an irrational belief in your own miracles.
(“Obama and the Copenhagen Syndrome” by Bret Stephens dated January 26, 2010 published by The Wall Street Journal at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703808904575024930346393858.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_BelowLEFTSecond )
Obama campaigned on lofty intentions and vapid promises and has never been in one office long enough to be held accountable for actual results; which is smart since his ideas don’t work! Obama is addicted to utilizing language that he has carefully tailored or perverted to obfuscate the truth. He frequently deflects attention from himself back to the issues at hand by saying “This isn't about me." When someone says that one time or a few times, you might believe him, but when he says it repeatedly, you have to conclude he is protesting too much and means just the opposite. Given what we've learned about Obama's self-absorption, it's not a stretch to infer that when he says "it's not about me," he wants to project an air of humility while receiving personal credit for that which he denies seeking credit. The more plausible explanation is that Obama does not want to be held accountable for the results of any of his work until they are perceived as positive – which are few and far between. He also does not want to acknowledge that as President he is responsible and accountable for everything that his administration does or does not do. The context of his "not about me" statement following the Massachusetts election bears this out. After the obligatory disclaimer, he added: "This isn't about politics. This is about a health care system that is breaking America's families, breaking America's businesses and breaking America's economy." Notice that he is seeking plaudits for his important work, which he's willing to do even if it damages him in the polls. He also gets the added benefit here of deflecting blame for the defeat by implying the election results weren't about him. His entire domestic and foreign policy agenda is so much about him that he insists on cramming it down our throats even though the polls overwhelmingly indicate that we Americans do not want it and, more importantly, that it is bankrupting this nation and making us less safe. That's not selflessness; it is self-indulgence and conceit to an obscene degree. He is so brainwashed in Marxist and appeasement ideologies that he continues to believe in their maxims in the face of their historical failure and of the miserable failure of his own agenda in the here and now. Why would he cultivate a messianic image, replete with echo-enhanced microphones, a grandiose Greek temple backdrop at Invesco Field, and that far-off and high-above look he has mastered for his ethereal orations? Obama's effort to present himself as otherworldly, of which the rhetorical device "it's not about me" is but a part, is not something he just contrived in the past year. This is a deliberate pattern he established long ago and has continued with consistency, as my research has confirmed in spades, ie:
· On Feb. 15, 1990, after becoming "the first black president of the influential Harvard Law Review," Obama said, "I realized my election was not about me, but it was about us, about what we could do and what we could accomplish."
· On Nov. 2, 2004, when Obama visited the campus of the University of Illinois during his campaign for U.S. senator, he said: "Ultimately, this election is not about me. ... It's about the willingness of our citizens to get engaged and get involved."
· On Dec. 11, 2006, in a speech in New Hampshire, Obama said, "It's not about me." But, according to an NPR reporter, "it really is all about him."
· On Dec. 10, 2007, Obama said, "This campaign is not about me; it is about the hundreds of volunteers ... in Rhode Island ... and the millions of people across the country, who want change we can believe in."
· On Dec. 14, 2007, when asked about a New Year's resolution, Obama said he needed to keep reminding himself, "This is not about me."
· On Aug. 28, 2008, Obama said in his acceptance speech, "This election has never been about me; it's about you."
· On July 20, 2009, Obama said: "This isn't about me. This isn't about politics. This is about a health care system that is breaking America's families, breaking America's businesses and breaking America's economy."
President Obama is using a rhetorical phrase to hide the fact that he is ultimately responsible and accountable for everything that happens during his Presidency. What Obama is trying to hide is that his political agenda is unwanted, unneeded, and destructive to this country, and that is all about him!
(“’It’s Not About Me’ – Wink, Wink” by David Limbaugh dated January 26, 2010 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/DavidLimbaugh/2010/01/26/its_not_about_me_--_wink,_wink
“President Obama’s Lexicon of Rhetorical Devices” by Ben Shapiro dated January 27, 2010 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/BenShapiro/2010/01/27/president_obamas_lexicon_of_rhetorical_devices )
Liberals are going to be the death of America and even hiding behind a new name, Progressives, does not hide the bad statist ideas you are trying to inflict on this country. They want to take it really easy on criminals. They favor welfare programs that destroyed families. They back foreign aid that buttressed tyrannies. Their way of dealing with enemies is unilateral disarmament. Still other proposals want to spend, tax and regulate us into oblivion. First came the self-destruction of earmark-happy, spendthrift congressional Republicans who seemed to assume power was theirs forever, even if many of their principles were proving strangely evaporative. As a consequence the Democrats took back Congress. Then Barack Obama used unexcelled rhetorical skills, a recession, an unpopular war in Iraq and George W. Bush's deep decline in public estimation to capture the White House. Behold, it was the liberal hour, a time for the enlightened few to strike back, to fix things - glory, glory hallelujah! The arrogance was suffocating and resurrected liberals were practically smirking as they instructed us to sweet-talk our way out of terrorist threats, advised we should quickly duplicate Europe's semi-socialist mistakes and condescendingly dished up all manner of other liberty-smothering ideological inanities that would transform America into a poor imitation of what it once was if anyone actually acted on them. Let's all get Keynesian, the liberals said, and pretty soon Obama and friends were giving us a stimulus package costing as much as the war Obama opposed. The results began to be visible and the stimulus turned out not to work, job losses actually accelerated and meanwhile, along with other spending enthusiasms, it was threatening to eviscerate our future with mounting debt. Obama and his congressional buddies had a trillion-dollar, ineffectual, welfare-worsening health care plan they aimed to pass through secrecy and dishonest deals, and then they wanted to eat away at our industrial base with a global warming program achieving nothing. Americans are waking up to the fact that the nation's little flirtation with Obama-style, feel-good, kumbaya socialism or fascism is a disaster in the making. We had larger and larger TEA Party rallies composed of independents telling pollsters they were losing faith in Obama and the Democrats. GOPers need to announce that the supposedly out-of-fashion Reaganomics is suddenly and permanently back in fashion. That means that Republicans need to fan out across the country and across the alternative media arguing for fiscal discipline, smaller government, lower taxes, and fewer but effective regulations. Liberals have lost elections in New Jersey and Virginia, and now lost the Senate seat previously held by the very liberal Ted Kennedy in very liberal Massachusetts to Scott Brown, a Republican. The message to the Democrats is simple: Either give up your liberal ways and veer toward the center or face political catastrophe in November's general election.
(“Obama Needs to Shift from Liberal Policies” by Jay Ambrose dated January 23, 2010 published by Real Clear Politics at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2010/01/23/time_to_hide_liberals_100014.html
“Three Important Reasons Why Obama’s Demagoguery Will Fail” by J. Robert Smith dated January 29, 2010 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/01/three_important_reasons_obamas.html )
The burning question after the Massachusetts Senate election is whether the administration responds by making a course correction to survive politically by jettisoning its policy core and cleaning up its methods, or 'doubles down,' as President Obama has implied, and escalates the ideological and guerrilla war for direction of public policy. Just as Massachusetts paved the way for the American Revolution, it now has set the stage for the national rejection of President Obama's hidden yet radical agenda. He is well to the left of the public, that is authoritarian, deviously presented and was discredited in this country decades ago. The only serious domestic initiative to show for the last year is an obscene stimulus bill that has had to be defended by the spurious supposition of 'jobs saved' since, contrary to promises, unemployment has risen by over five million after it was enacted, and that target could have been attained without squandering 787 billion borrowed dollars. Current economic projections call for massive debt increases of $1 trillion a year for a decade, with huge money supply increases that will make history not only by their size but by their non-inflationary nature, accompanied by tax increases that will, also miraculously, not retard recovery from the recession. No audible sane person believes this arithmetical fairy tale, including, one dares to hope, the President himself. It is a recipe for guaranteed stagflation and currency devaluation. The administration bought wholly into the unproved claim that carbon emissions are causing global warming, but global warming has not, for the last ten years, been happening. The President padded around the Copenhagen global warming conference trying to generate enthusiasm for $100 billion annual transfers as conscience-alleviating payments for the carbon emissions of the economically advanced countries. Obama must have noticed that the science and the politics were wrong, and that the arithmetic was too. The whole concept, like his promotion of renewable energy, his cap-and-trade bill, his redesignation of carbon dioxide as a pollutant, and his pursuit of complete nuclear disarmament, is mad. In foreign policy, engagement with Iran and North Korea, appeasement of Russia, over Georgia and missile defense, attempting to bully Israel and to deny that there was an agreement between the Sharon and Bush (Jr.) regimes over settlements, and siding with Chavez and the Castros in the Honduran crisis against constitutional democracy and America's legitimate interests, have all failed, practically and morally, at least without knowledge of indiscernible and unlikely, contrary intelligence. There have been no initiatives to reform NATO, the UN, the IMF, all in need of modernization, and there has been a regrettable delay in launching the long-promised and necessary measures to turn the Afghan operation into a success, while the U.S. and its allies have been milling about, losing ground and taking increasing casualties. It has been a year of fecklessness, amateurism, and posturing. He is fluent and sonorous, but rather vapid. Obama is an ideologue who has failed to achieve even his low expectations on virtually everything he has tried. American voters who do not support Obama's scheme to "remake" America have been disparaged for a year. They've been slandered, called the worst names: Nazis, astroturfers, right-wing nut cases, "tea baggers." Mr. President, what we have here is not a failure to communicate, since most of the time, you come through loud and clear. Lawmakers just don’t like what you’re saying and their constituents back home like it even less. The public doesn't don't like it, though only those voters in Virginia, New Jersey, and now Massachusetts have had an electoral opportunity to demonstrate the depth of national unease. If Obama’s response is to double down on what we have seen in the last year, he will leave the White House in a submersible in three years.
(“Now will they listen?” by Meghan Cox Gurdon dated January 21, 2010 published by The Washington Examiner at http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columns/Now-will-they-listen_-82163297.html
“Incompetent Obama teeters on the edge” by Conrad Black dated January 22, 2010 published by National Post at http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fullcomment/archive/2010/01/22/conrad-black-the-lessons-of-massachusetts.aspx
“Mr. President, what we have here is not a failure to communicate” by Ruben Navarrette Jr. dated January 25, 2010 published by Pajamas Media at http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/how-obama-can-make-friends-and-influence-people/ )
Incredibly, the message President Barack Obama is hearing from the revolution in Massachusetts is that fitful Americans want more of the same: more populism, which means a more expansive government that is more intrusive in private markets, which means more spending and more taxes, which means more economic stagnation, which means more unemployment. Obama's response to the Democrat's Bay State rebuke was to grab a pitchfork and try to elbow to the head of the mob. In other words, Obama thinks more of everything that's got the electorate already so agitated is needed. It would be easy to assign his denial to tone deafness, but it goes beyond that. It's a stubborn resistance to recognize that America doesn't want to go where he's trying to lead it. Obama is still taking his counsel from the leftist ideologues who are telling him that the trouble isn't that he's too liberal, but not liberal enough. Two of his most trusted economic advisers, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and National Economic Council chief Larry Summers, urged him NOT to pitch his punitive tax on large banks, warning it would further bind a credit market already seized up by new regulations that discourage lending. He ignored them and listened instead to those who advised going on the offensive to deflect heat from himself and Congress' liberal leadership. Wall Street is too easy a target for a President in trouble, so he flogged the banks. Wall Street responded as Geithner and Summers feared; stock markets plunged in anticipation of the negative impact of Obama's bank-busting plot. Obama is repeating the mistakes of FDR, who worsened the Great Depression by demonizing private industry and over-expanding the reach of government. Instead of putting an end to the spending orgy in Washington, Obama was back on the campaign stump in Ohio promising a second stimulus package that doubles down on the failed first one. He'll keep trying to create jobs and spark an economic revival with massive spending on welfare and public works projects. Expect him to attack the deficit not with fiscal restraint, but by raising taxes on investors and job creators. It will take more than the loss of a Massachusetts Senate seat to make Barack Obama abandon his mission of remaking America into something Americans won't recognize.
(“Obama’s answer: more populism” by Nolan Finley dated January 24, 2010 published by The Detroit News at http://detnews.com/article/20100124/OPINION03/1240310/Obama-s-answer--more-populism )
Congressional Democrats believe that America needs radical change requiring 1,000+ page “comprehensive reform” bills, but refuses to hear that Americans no longer trust these gargantuan solutions that many times generate unintended consequences. The stimulus bill was 1,500 pages long; the Omnibus spending bill was 1,300 pages long; the cap and trade bill was 1,400 pages long, the health care reform bill has ballooned to over 2,200 pages. On health care, clean energy, debt reduction, and immigration, Republicans have been offering an alternative to thousand-page bills: going step-by-step in the right direction to solve problems in a way that re-earns the trust of the American people. What has united most Republicans against these three bills has been not only ideology, but also that they were comprehensive. President Obama favors formulating comprehensive policies aimed at totally replacing all aspects of existing systems with radical new approaches and expanded government control and bureaucracy. Comprehensive reform legislation suffers for the law of unintended consequences, creating many things you did not intend to create. The law of unintended consequences means that when the only choices are the recent immigration, climate-change, and health-care bills, being a member of the “Party of No” is a more responsible choice than being a member of the party of “Yes, We Can.” How can a senator be so sure that some provision stuck into a 2,700-page partisan bill in secret meetings and voted on during a snowstorm at 1 a.m. won’t come back around and slap him or her in the face? The law of unintended consequences is not an argument for doing nothing, but it is one for doing things experimentally. If you examine the Congressional Record, you will find that Republican senators have been proposing a step-by-step-approach to confronting our nation’s challenges 173 different times during 2009. For example on health care, Republicans first suggested setting a clear goal: reducing cost and then proposed the first six steps toward achieving that goal:
(1) allowing small businesses to pool their resources to purchase health-care plans;
(2) reducing junk lawsuits against doctors;
(3) allowing the purchase of insurance across state lines;
(4) expanding health savings accounts;
(5) promoting wellness and prevention; and
(6) taking steps to reduce waste, fraud, and abuse.
These six proposals in complete legislative text only totaled 182 pages, but the Democrat majority rejected all six, and ridiculed the approach. In July, all 40 Republican Senators announced agreement upon four steps to produce low-cost clean energy and create jobs:
(1) create 100 nuclear power plants;
(2) electrify half our cars and trucks;
(3) explore offshore for natural gas and oil; and
(4) double energy research and development.
The election in Massachusetts is the latest reminder that the American people are tired of risky comprehensive schemes featuring taxes, debt, Washington takeovers, and lots of hidden and unexpected surprises. It is time to declare that the era of the thousand-page bill is over and recognize the best approach is to set a clear goal, such as reducing health-care costs, take a few steps in that direction, and then a few more, so that we can start solving our country’s problems in a way that re-earns the trust of the American people.
(“Step by Step” by Lamar Alexander dated January 25, 2010 published by National Review Online at http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=OTk0OTJiNDIzOWYzNzE3ZWE4Y2ViM2I3MjQxYTc1Zjg= )
* There is so much published each week that unless you search for it, you will miss important breaking news. I try to package the best of this information into my “Views on the News” each Saturday morning. Individual issue updates this week include:
· Elections at http://returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/elections.php
· Defense at http://returntocommonsensesite.com/fp/defense.php