Obama takes us backward in the worst speech of his career
The Democratic National Convention was such a tedious flop that the third night was all reruns. It was like watching a “clip show” episode of an old sitcom. Yet another failed governor, Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, rolled onstage to yell class-warfare bromides at the audience. Like every other befuddled Democrat speaker, Granholm appears to be under the mistaken impression that General Motors did not go bankrupt, and that our $30 billion taxpayer loss was actually some sort of profitable investment. The combined ignorance and dishonesty of these people explains a lot about our current economic malaise.
Then Joe Biden clumsily ran through all the old talking points one last time – the baby-talk “4.5 million jobs created” nonsense Democrats get by simply omitting the first two years of the Obama presidency, MediScare lies, the “equal pay” obsession, the financial crisis that Democrats are really happy you don’t remember their role in creating, the boundless compassion that would erase Obama’s failures if his unworthy subjects weren’t such bitter clingers, the cobwebbed line about “bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive,” outsourcing lies, a relatively oblique reference to abortion, and of course Blame Bush. Once again, illegal aliens were casually conflated with legal immigrants, an insult Democrats never tire of flinging at legal immigrants.
Of course, Joe Biden is an buffoon, so he had to pepper his speech with improvised abuses of the word “literally” to show how sincere he was, and he very awkwardly dragged in the phrase “fallen angels” to describe American soldiers killed in action. But don’t let his clownish buffoonery make you forget what a vicious partisan attack dog Biden is. Last night, he selectively edited a quote from Mitt Romney to make it sound like Romney didn’t want to track down Osama bin Laden, claimed Republicans are talking about job training and college education when they refer to “dependency,” and shamelessly lied about Romney wanting to raise middle-class taxes so he could give rich folks a tax cut.
Then we got to Obama, whose much-repeated claims of burning patriotic fervor were difficult to square with inviting a man who once compared American soldiers with Nazis to introduce him. And there isn’t really much to say about Obama’s flaccid speech, because you’ve heard it all before. To borrow a Bidenism, it was literally scotch-taped together from his stump speeches and 2008 campaign promises – an open, somewhat embarrassing play for nostalgia, inviting the audience to remember how swell they felt when voting for Hope and Change four years ago.
Bill Clinton used his speech to say that Obama’s 2008 promises were unrealistic, and no one could possibly have delivered them. 24 hours later, Obama took the stage to make the same promises all over again. But you can trust him this time! And remember, if he should win re-election and you hold any of these promises against him in 2016, you’ll get the same treatment Paul Ryan got when he made the mistake of taking Obama’s promises in Janesville, Wisconsin seriously.
The President who promised us 5 percent unemployment if he got his trillion-dollar stimulus, and warned of 6 percent unemployment without it, once again asked us to forget the last four years and believe his projections will be accurate this time. He promised more “green jobs,” which is almost gut-bustingly funny to anyone familiar with the string of firecracker bankruptcies his previous “green jobs” boondoggles have become. A sad and desperate attempt to latch onto Bill Clinton’s faded glory from the 1990s was made, as Barack Obama – who once assured us he understood that “you don’t raise taxes in a recession” – promised us that jacking up taxes would somehow bring back the 90s tech bubble. Obama actually felt it necessary to remind the audience that “I’m no longer just a candidate, I’m the President” – a matter that might actually be in doubt among the Democrat faithful, if they’ve been taking Obama’s endless whining about the enduring power of George Bush seriously.
Obama even had the nerve to put on his tattered “deficit hawk” costume for a while… in a speech where the man who piled more debt on America than most of his predecessors combined threw out programs that must add up to at least another trillion dollars in spending, while claiming that balancing the budget depends on a tax increase that might bring a quarter of that sum, at best.
And yes, Obama still wants more money for “infrastructure.” His fingernails-on-a-blackboard portrayal of America as a Third World country in need of rebuilding, “nation-building at home,” was back. No, you’re not allowed to ask what happened to all that “stimulus” money. One of the few changes in this speech from the past few years of Obama rhetoric is that he conspicuously avoided talk of high-speed rail. That might have been the only sign of Obama’s awareness that he’s running out of other people’s money to spend. Curiously, he didn’t have much to say about his “signature achievement” ObamaCare, either.
You will search this speech in vain for any acknowledgement of error, any sense that Barack Obama understands what he has done wrong, or indeed has the faintest clue why his economy teeters on the edge of recession. We just have to try his failed ideas a little harder, with a fresh infusion of cash, and they’ll suddenly start working. And if you want to scale back his irresponsible spending – why, you want to “gut education,” and let companies release “toxic pollution into the air your children breathe.” As always, the bloated bureaucracies and billion-dollar crony deals are hidden behind teachers, cops, firefighters, and children.
“Over and over, we have been told by our opponents that bigger tax cuts and fewer regulations are the only way; that since government can’t do everything, it should do almost nothing,” said Obama. That’s the second-most important line of his speech, because it’s the absurd reduction of his entire campaign. It’s either unlimited debt and huge tax increases to fuel a massive regulatory state and enrich Obama’s top contributors, or anarchy in the streets. Does any rational person look at the Romney-Ryan platform and believe, even with a dash of hyperbole, that it amounts to a government that does “almost nothing?” Obama expects his voters to swallow a very high dosage of absurdity. It’s interesting that he literally cannot make his case without resorting to such nonsense.
The first most important line of the Obama speech was this odious defense of Big Government’s tender sensibilities: “We don’t think government can solve all our problems. But we don’t think that government is the source of all our problems – any more than are welfare recipients, or corporations, or unions, or immigrants, or gays, or any other group we’re told to blame for our troubles. Because we understand that this democracy is ours.”
That’s another way of restating the theme of the campaign video embarrassed Democrats were racing to disavow on Tuesday: Government is the only thing we all belong to. It’s the Rousseau ideal of “general will” that has provided the moral foundation for every bloated bureaucracy and totalitarian nightmare of the past century: the State is the avatar of our collective will, acting with our unimpeachable combined moral authority. Question the State and you’re attacking immigrants and gays.
And I know that Obama’s speech is no place for logic or memory, but I’d like to ask two questions of whichever bumbling scriptwriter came up with that passage:
1. Can’t bad government policies logically be blamed for making our problems worse, even if government is not the original “source” of them?
2. Who, exactly, was the one blaming corporations that make ATMs and corporate jets for his problems a few months ago?
The downsized crowd stuffed into Obama’s reduced speaking venue applauded at the right moments, but their overall reaction was noticeably subdued. Obama’s media cheerleaders were downcast, spending much of the evening fighting the urge to blurt out that Bill Clinton’s speech was a lot better. I saw an account on Twitter of reporters asking each other to brainstorm ideas for positive things they could write about the speech. When later asked if they’d enjoyed the “great convention,” most of the crowd didn’t cheer, so they had to be asked again.
And the next morning, we learned that another 368,000 people dropped out of the American workforce last month, bringing it to a 31-year low. Several Democrat speakers tried to sell Americans on the notion that Obama was making America better, because 168,000 jobs were created in July. Well, only 96,000 were added in August – a horrifying crash that will be very difficult to blame on George Bush. (And the July number got downgraded to 141,000 to boot.)
Obama gave a lousy campaign speech Thursday night, but as a farewell address, it will do.