Obama has a serious problem. Unlike other presidents whose approval ratings have risen and fallen with events, Obama’s have been on a steady downward course. This indicates a man who has lost the public. Thus, his objective last night was to reconnect with the public, to pull a mea culpa, to assure the public he will change, and to convince the public to give him a second chance. He failed. Instead, last night just highlighted why he lost the public in the first place.
Obama is a poor speaker and his speech writers stink. He has yet to give a memorable speech, and last night was no exception. There were no memorable quotes, no incredible moments of truth, no compelling arguments, and no moment where he made a genuine call for all of us to come together. Instead, his speech was bland, with angry emphasis substituting for passion, half-hearted praise for America substituting for inspiration, an abundance of “too-perfect-to-be-true” letters from widows and orphans that felt like blatant manipulation, and “I” substituting liberally for “we.” He was snide, unpleasant, insulting and combative. He read poorly. His self-deprecating jokes were all backhanded slaps at his opponents, and he just wasn’t presidential at any point.Technical Problems: Lack of Inspiration
The contrast with Virginia Governor McDonnell could not have been starker.
Obama’s failure, by the way, was obvious in two facts from last night. First, the leftists hired by CNN to act as analysts were amazingly subdued. “He did what he had to do” was about the highest praise they could muster (even David Axelrod was subdued). They questioned his priorities (or lack thereof) and even scoffed at some of what he said. Not one person suggested this was a great speech or a memorable speech or that he’d “hit a homerun.” When your own PR people can’t praise your speech, something is wrong. Secondly, CNN’s instant poll showed a 20% drop in the number of people who gave this speech high marks compared to last year. Given that this poll would likely include a higher proportion of Democrats than last year’s, this was a horrible result for Obama.
Aside from poor writing and delivery, the main reason Obama’s speech will not resonate with the public is that it ultimately was not meant for the public, it was aimed at his special interest. As I’ve said before, the Democratic Party is no longer a party, it has become an alliance of tribes, each of whom want their share. Last night, emphasized that:Political Payoff Smorgasbord
The middle class? You get to pay for these promises, and he repeated the silly plan I discussed the other day -- though he shifted the blame on that one to Biden. (FYI, that plan is actually aimed at feminists and college students and the poor, not the middle class.)• Unions: Obama promised a second stimulus, aimed at putting “America” back to work. . . targeted at unionized jobs. Further, while he seemed to talk about free trade last night with South Korea, Panama and Columbia, he never said he would push the free trade deals already negotiated with those countries that are languishing in Congress. Instead, he talked about “enforcement,” which is the same anti-free trade garbage his side has been spewing about imposing environmental and labor regulations on our trading partners.
• Environmentalists: Obama promised to get a carbon tax, i.e. cap and trade, even if he had to bribe a handful of Republicans (like Lindsey Graham) to get it, by offering to include subsidies for nuclear power and limited off-shore drilling.
• Gays: He promised to end “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and he promised “increased” civil rights office enforcement, i.e. more lawsuits.
• Feminists: He promised to fight for the feminist panacea “equal pay.”
• Blacks: He promised a national hate crimes law.
To cover his giveaways, he paid lip service to the public’s complaints. For example,
In other words, he paid lip service to the public’s concerns, and he showed that he refuses to accept any responsibility for the public’s concerns and he doesn’t intend to actually address them except with more lip service.• Obama’s Deficits: He acknowledged the deficit problem, by blaming it on Bush. He then promised a “total spending freeze.” What he did not say was that this would only cover 17% of spending and that Pelosi has already said it won’t get through the House. He then tried to make this sound impressive by talking about the savings this would generate over the next TWO decades. Wally from Dilbert tried this once, claiming his plan would save the company one million dollars. . . over a million years.
• Job Destruction: Obama acknowledged that people remain unemployed, a problem he blamed on Bush. First, he tried to lump the 6.3 million jobs that vanished under his policies on Bush by claiming that the economy had lost seven million jobs in the past two years. Then he blamed lobbyists (which made no sense). Then he bragged about his stimulus bill creating two million jobs -- a well documented lie. (See here and here.)
Now he’s promising targeted tax cuts for small business “for job creation.” No one has any idea what he’s talking about here -- he probably doesn’t even know himself -- but if this is nothing more than a “one time tax cut for hiring” (a new favorite among Democrats) then this is doomed to fail.
• Terrorism: Obama acknowledged that terrorism exists, a big step for him. But he blamed the failure to stop it on Bush, and he specifically blamed the Detroit near-bombing on policies put in place by Bush. Yet, while he acknowledged Bush’s failures he offered no plan to address terrorism other than more of the same. He then, amazingly, made the childish claim that he had “killed more terrorists” than Bush did in 2008. This brought near eye-rolls from the Joint Chiefs.
• Health Care: Obama also whined about the opposition to his health care bill, which he blamed on obstructionist Republicans, corrupt lobbyists, and cowardly Democrats who are worried about elections, i.e. public opinion. Then he said, “I’m no quitter” (another demonstrable falsehood). He then reformulated his plan as “health insurance reform” because no one likes insurance companies, and he challenged anyone who would oppose him to come up with their own plan -- something many have done, though he wouldn’t know that because he refuses to listen. But he waited 27 minutes into his speech to raise this issue, leading one CNN pundit to declare: “he won’t give up on health care, but he’s signaled that he won’t fight for it either.”
• Iran: He acknowledged that Iran hadn’t been fixed yet, which he blamed on the Iranians and prior administrations, i.e. Bush. He then swore that there would be real consequences if they didn’t comply this time. Of course, he couldn’t think of any consequence to mention, nor did he say who would bear them.
• Iraq: He promised again to bring home all of the (combat) troops from Iraq at some point in time, it’s just taking longer than expected because the “three” (formerly “two”) wars Bush left him were such disasters.
• Corruption: Recognizing that most polls put corruption at the top of the public’s concerns about his administration, he (1) promised “to fight corruption”. . . in Afghanistan, (2) he demonized lobbyists and claimed to have kicked them out of his administration -- another lie, (3) he talked about undoing the Supreme Court’s decision that allows corporations to donate money to causes, something recent polls show the public considers a matter of free speech, and (4) swore he would highlighting earmarks to the public. . . as compared to his campaign promise to stop them. He made no mention of his awarding a no-bid contract to a supporter (something he once called “corrupt”) or of the massive amounts of corruption in his administration and in Congress (see here, here and here).
Finally, we come to Obama’s biggest problem: his paranoid hatred of “those who oppose.” In a nod to Rodney King’s “can’t we all just get along,” Obama mentioned the word bipartisanship and he spoke of the need to change the tenor in Washington. But then, like a petulant child, he set about settling scores.Angry Obama Gives Way To Nasty Obama
He attacked the Republicans over and over, using any falsehood he thought would help him. He tried to blame them for his own failures and then, like a cartoon villain, he incredibly warned them that they would be held responsible for any further failure on his part. He called his own party cowards for trying to hear the message of the people. He blamed Bush for every single one of his faults and failures. And, as noted before, he petulantly tried to sound tough by claiming that he killed more terrorists than Bush did in 2008.
He demonized bankers and lobbyists, in ways not heard since the 1930s -- all the while ignoring the fact that they are his biggest contributors, that they are his closest advisors, and that he appointed them to serve in his cabinet and to run his treasury department.
He even tried to play the self-pity, phony-acceptance-of-responsibility game by taking “my share of the blame” only to twist that into accepting the blame for being stopped by the self-interested and politically motivated acts of others.
Incredibly, he made a highly inappropriate attack on the Supreme Court, in their presence. It is not that he criticized a court decision, but that he attacked the court personally, when he angrily accused the court of destroying “a century of settled law” in favor of special interests (impugning their motives). This caused Justice Alito to mouth the words “not true”. . . giving Obama a second “you lie” moment in as many trips to Congress. And, indeed, it was not true. By the way, as an active attorney, his attack on the Court is an ethics violation and he should be sanctioned.
Finally, he thanked no one for anything.
This man is a child. He knows nothing, and it shows. He out hates Nixon as a paranoid gatherer of enemies and a serial assigner of blame. He out wimps Carter as an effete warrior. He makes the obviously stupid Bush II look like Einstein, and the smarmy insider Bush I look like a zealous reformer. And he makes the dishonest and dishonorable Bill Clinton look like George Washington.
Obama is finished. Not because he doesn’t have time to change, but because he’s not willing or able to change.