Saturday, December 10, 2011


President Obama's been on a populist/soak-the-rich tear ever since the 2010 election, giving speech after speech attacking Republicans, conservatives, "the rich," and other low characters. His speech the other day in Osawatomie, KS was no different, except that it really struck a nerve - on the Right. Every analyst, from Rush on down, spent considerable time deconstructing and debunking it as a broadcast straight from Caracas, if not Havana. Michael Barone, however, narrows in on what was really wrong with the "Osawatomie Speech"

Even by the standards of campaign rhetoric, this is a shockingly shoddy piece of work. You can start with his intellectually indefensible caricature of Republican philosophy: “We are better off when everybody is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules.” Or his simple factual inaccuracy: “The wealthiest Americans are paying the lowest taxes in over half a century.” Or his infantile economic analysis, blaming job losses on the invention of the automated teller machine (they’ve been around for more than four decades, Mr. President, and we’ve had lots of job growth during that time) and the Internet. 
But what’s really staggering is the weakness of his public policy arguments. The long-term unsustainability of our entitlement programs he blames solely on the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts—an explanation no serious observer regards as anything but incomplete, to say the least. He points to growing income inequality and to remedy it advocates policies that are utterly inadequate to the task. We need to be “making education a national mission,” he says, and in essence argues for channeling more money to teacher union members. 
What we have here, it seems a president who has no serious interest in public policy. He has spent nearly half his 15 years in public office running for other public office. The only difference now is that, having run out of higher offices to run for, he is just running for reelection instead. Those who pride themselves on belonging to the party of smart people should be embarrassed.
Not only that, the idea of trying to create some sort of historical resonance was just silly. When we think about the Great American Speeches, I can't say that the word "Osawatomie" springs to mind as quickly as, say, "Gettysburg" or "The Alamo." Just to underline the cluelessness, the original Osawatomie speech was made in 1910 - two years after Teddy Roosevelt's presidency had ended. And the ideas he outlined in that speech - though, no doubt, desperately meaningful to ahistoric progressives - led to TR's virtual banishment from the Republican Party.  In their nitwit way, I'm guessing the Obami were trying to say "Look! Even the Republicans' heroes agree with us!" Sorry, boys, things aren't that easy. 

The problem for the Right remains that, no matter how crazily socialistic the president becomes in his public remarks, he remains a compelling speaker with plenty of personal charm, at least when he's not attacking us for wanting to kill babies with "dirty air." God help us, this sh*t might work! I'd like to think the voters have cracked the Obama code and are no longer listening to him as attentively as they once did, but I suspect we'll still have a hell of a time getting him out of office. 

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