Ann Richards delivered the best political one liner in history at the Democratic Convention of 1988. She said of the first President Bush, “Poor, George…He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.” Lately, it seems the golden boy of the Democratic Party, Sen. Barack Obama, has a silver foot in his mouth and his celebrity is taking a beating; not to mention his run for the presidency.
A couple of instances showed that Sen. Obama may not be ready for the scrutiny that comes with detailing his positions on issues. First, he went to the Detroit Economic Club to a resounding reception that was quickly cooled when instead of talking about issues like health care, he decided to bite the hand that fed them — automakers and by extension, oil companies.
Not only did he go after the industry that makes Motown run, but he also got his facts wrong. This is a problem that he seems to be having more frequently. Obama is an eloquent speaker but it seems that he is better with generalizations than with facts. At one point during the Detroit Economic Club speech he asserted that Japanese cars average 45mpg when in actuality, it is more like 30mpg. Another problem is characterizing them as “Japanese” cars when most of the plants of Japanese auto makers selling to the American customer are in America and creating good paying American jobs.
This gaffe could be written off as inexperience. Even the Mayor of Detroit, Kwame Kilpatrick said that “he left a lot to be desired with that message” and that he (Kilpatrick) wouldn’t write him off for one mistake, however others were looking for a little more policy talk on real issues like health care costs. The next one is more serious, in my view.
Let me preface this by saying that I have lived through two serious tornados, one when I was 12 and one in 1998 that killed 21 people and did major destruction of neighborhoods, schools and property in the area I live. I came home that night to the Georgia National Guard checking my ID to be sure that I belonged in the neighborhood. I was lucky both times that my family and I only suffered minor damage and no injuries, but tornados can hit one spot and miss the next and then be gone. My hometown of Gainesville, Georgia was totally destroyed in 1936 by a tornado and it was so devastating that FDR visited our town twice. Once after the tornado struck and two years later to observe how much progress we had made rebuilding.
So that is why I am concerned about what Sen. Obama said in Richmond at a fundraiser. He said, “In case you missed it, this week; there was a tragedy in Kansas. Ten thousand people died — an entire town destroyed.” He mentioned the tornado in order to politicize the event and to give erroneous information that had been passed on some path from Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to him that there were problems in the clean up due to the Kansas National Guard and equipment being in Iraq.
Like a dastardly game of gossip, one Democrat to another, this lie about the response was perpetuated throughout the week. This response disregarded the multiple interviews with residents of Greensburg, Kansas, who were satisfied with the response to the tragedy in their lives as well as the Kansas National Guard saying they were able to respond for now. The National Guard is always stretched and more so now in Iraq, but they are getting the job done.
Interestingly, to get the National Guard up to speed all the time will take money. The only candidate talking about specific numbers of increased defense spending is Gov. Mitt Romney.
It is one thing to stretch the truth at the Detroit Economic Club — that is a gaffe. To misrepresent deaths in a disaster and to politicize the response is irresponsible. To be sure, this is a page out of the playbook of the Democratic National Committee. It worked to politicize Katrina, so why not politicize every disaster. Americans don’t politicize disaster; they roll their sleeves up, pick up the mess and make a better day tomorrow. It’s the American way.
To paraphrase the best, “Poor, Obama — he can help it, he’s got a silver foot in his mouth.”