August 28, 2008

Quick Thoughts on the Five Minutes of Obama's Speech That I Could Actually Endure

Justin Katz

Whatever the party, I can't believe that anybody is interested — much less enjoys — these speeches. Everything promised. Posture. Posing. Some standby lines and historical references. Black-and-white arguments and vague solutions.

One characteristic that I notice again and again with Barack Obama is his method of adding that flavor of bipartisan "change" to the rhetoric. He'll state some policy or such that's entirely in line with the Democrat-left playbook and then, with the air of one about to put his hand on the chest of his overzealous teammates, he'll say, "But we must admit that... yadda yadda yadda."

The yaddas will be some talking point that sounds vaguely conservative (e.g., "personal responsibility"), but they have no force in his policy. The proof is in his specifics and, increasingly, in his actions. Consider his lack of concession to those across the ideological divide in his choice of running mate. His apparent "no more red America, no more blue America" umph coasted him past the second-most-liberal Senator, Sheldon Whitehouse, but he he couldn't quite bring himself to compromise with the socialist Bernie Sanders. Well known moderates such as Leahy, Boxer, Reid, Durbin, and so on were clearly out of the question.

So will be any compromise on policy should he achieve the highest office (especially with a Democrat-run Congress).

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Not even Kerry or Gore has been targeted the way Obama has, and I've wondered whether Obama was tough enough to handle the bleepstorm that's flying his way.
After tonight, I'm no longer worried about how he's handling himself. I'm already laughing about the columns flap.
And if Shel's too liberal for you, don't blame me - I voted for Chafee.

Posted by: rhody at August 28, 2008 11:35 PM

Obama's speeech was a fairly accurate reflection of his candidacy: strong on style, lacking in substance.

Obama hit the touch points, but his record doesn't match his rhetoric. Why?

-Obama talked about bipartisanship. But his voting record in the Senate is a straightline liberal voting record. McCain is the candidate that (much to the chagrin of many commenters on this blog) has the record of working across party lines and the voting record to prove it.

-Obama addressed the issue of abortion by saying that we can all agree on the need for greater adoption options. The speech doesn't mention that Obama's voting record and actions on the abortion issue don't show evidence of building bridges, but instead show that he is beholden to NARAL. He dodged the fundamental issue of whether life begins at conception in an attempt to cater to moderate voter. I will grant that his rhetroic was better than his previous response, when he said the question "was above his pay grade."

-Obama decries the nation's reliance on foreign oil and insinuates that it's John McCain's fault because he's been in DC for 30 years. Yet the policies Obama emdorses were policies that led to the foreign reliance. By supporting taxes on only U.S. oil companies, OPEC nations, Russia and Venezuala benefit. While I agree with other elements of Obama's energy policy, his analysis is misguided. It's Jimmy Carter-redux.

-Obama talked about cutting taxes for the middle class. It sounds good, but once again, his record doesn't match the rhetoric. You could actually question whether McCain's record meets this rhetoric, but Obama's comments were definitely misleading.

-Obama vows to pay teachers more. I do believe that he would do this, but as we've seen in RI, that's not always going to ensure quality education.

-Obama said that if you don't have health insurance, you'll be able to get the same coverage as "members of Congress." Great. Every business in the U.S. should dump their employees off of health insurance and the government can pick up the tab. Just maybe this "policy" should be thought out a little better.

-Obama talked about Iraq, but let's face it. Obama was wrong about Iraq and would have thrown in the towel when al-Qaeda was at the peak of its power in Iraq. McCain was right.

-Obama talked about Georgia, but omits the fact that his first response called on the UN Security Council to sanction Russia. Of course, the was essentially calling on Russia to sanction itself, because any permanent member of the UN Security Council can veto any resolution.

Other than that, most of Obama's speech consisted of generalities:

"eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less"

"now is the time to keep the promise of equal pay for an equal day's work"

In the end, Obama's speech was a regurgitation of points that have made by other Democrats like John Kerry and Al Gore.

To Obama's credit, he delivered them expertly on a set worthy of a Hollywood blockuster movie.

Posted by: Anthony at August 29, 2008 12:23 AM

I actually forced myself to watch the speech. I also read the prepared remarks which were available online, just before it all began. The delivery fell short of the prepared text on quite a few occasions. As for the scene, it was certainly a sight to behold. I’m struggling to find the exact word to describe it all (and it was quite a lot to visually absorb), but I think it might be "hubris."

The only thing particularly memorable about the whole thing was the over-the-top made for television stage behind him. We’ve been told that it was created by Britney Spears’ own set designer, but it looked a bit more like something designed by Albert Speer (of course, I’m not drawing any direct parallels about policy).

The main words I remember, because it was repeated so often was "I, I’ll, and I will." What happened to "we"?

There is one particular line that I think is really going to come back to haunt him:

"If you don’t have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from."

Isn't that what Obama and his followers have been trying to do to McCain, by attempting to paint him as some kind of George W. clone? McCain, love him or hate him (or something in between), actually has a very long record to run on. What record does Obama have to run on exactly? Let's ask Hillary: "He has a speech he gave in 2002."

Posted by: Will at August 29, 2008 2:08 AM

>>but it looked a bit more like something designed by Albert Speer (of course, I’m not drawing any direct parallels about policy)."

Can you say "Liberal Fascism"?

Actually, Nuremburg and the 1936 Olympics crossed my mind.

Superbly delivered speech, gotta admit. Probably had the RI Future crowd atwitter. And for that (significant) part of the electorate that votes on superficial impressions, he likely wowed a large segment of them.

I wonder what William (Goebbels?) Ayers thought of the speech?

Great delivery, but as to content it was horribly misleading – bears little resemblance to Obama’s past record or what he’ll really attempt in office.

Investor’s Business Daily has been running a great series on the real Obama and his background:

Posted by: Tom W at August 29, 2008 8:17 AM

Tom W.: Wow

The IBD series makes you wonder how anyone who cares about this country could vote for Obama.

Posted by: Anthony at August 29, 2008 8:30 AM

Tom W-the Nuremberg comparison isn't far off-of course I'm not calling Obama a nazi-it's just that they practically invented mass political theater along with the soviets and the Italian fascists.
Rhody-it isn't that Sheldon is a liberal-he's an incompetent empty suit,silver spoon fop.It's a lot easier to take Bernie Sanders or Leahy,who isn't a gun grabber.
Boxer a moderate?C'mon Justin.She is a rabid supporter of partial birth abortion and gun control.She is also an idiot.
I don't even watch speeches by people I plan to vote for,because they never tell the truth.It's all about as real as those Ron Popiel ads on tv.

Posted by: joe bernstein at August 29, 2008 8:34 AM

Oh, I would be remiss to not also comment on the "crowd shots" interspersed throughout the coverage.

For the women (in particular) shown. their faces were reminiscent of those old films of the female teenybopper audience when the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan show.

For the audience in general, when seeing the close-up shots of their faces, it occurred to me that I was looking at children who still believed in Santa Claus, only this time it was adults looking with adoring eyes as Santa Obama told them about all the great government "gifts" that are going to appear under their "progressive" Christmas, err, "Holiday" Tree.

Posted by: Tom W at August 29, 2008 8:35 AM

Somewhere Leni Riefenstahl's ghost is smiling, chanting YES WE CAN.

Posted by: Mike at August 29, 2008 8:47 AM

>>Somewhere Leni Riefenstahl's ghost is smiling, chanting YES WE CAN.

Great comment!

Should we start discussing "The Audacity of National Socialism" or just "The Audacity of Socialism"?

Posted by: Tom W at August 29, 2008 9:00 AM

You people writing in this blog drag out the word "fascism". Yet you support Don Carcieri who knows how to dictate, but not how to govern. He attempted to settle a union contract by fiat and has been slapped down by two judges. He must actually take the grievances to the Labor Relations Board and negotiate, not dictate a settlement. He can't play Der Fuhrer here. He also, like a fascist, assumes privileges not available to most of us by skipping taxes on his Florida condos. Like a fascist his attempts to explain his way out of the "mix-up" by saying that he never received the tax bills were given the lie by the tax collector's office in Florida. It must be a Republican disease not to know how many houses one owns. Or has he, like a fascist, decided that he's above the law and, like a fascist, assumed special privileges.

So when you people throw around the "F" word it must be recognized that you haven't the faintest idea what a true fascist is. He has already declared kristallnacht for the Hispanics.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at August 29, 2008 12:26 PM

"Kristallnacht for Hispanics"?Come on,get real.The rest of your argument makes a point or two-but that is way over the edge.have there been any pogroms?Oh,and I guess Hispanics own the immigration debate?What BS.
I wouldn't compare Obama to a fascist,but the overarching political theater he employed was pioneered by totalitiarian despots.

Posted by: joe bernstein at August 29, 2008 3:36 PM

If Carcieri were a true fascist he wouldn't be adhering to court orders, and the feeding at the taxpayer trough Council 94 pigs would be in a concentration camp / Gulag.

Actually, that's an appealing image, isn't it? It would serve them right.

Just kidding! Sorta ...

Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at August 30, 2008 1:10 AM

Of course the kristallnacht comment was hyperbole. I used it to point out that the term "fascist" gets thrown around in this blog in a willy-nilly fashion with no concern for its actual meaning. In other words "sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander."
You said:

The rest of your argument makes a point or two-but that is way over the edge.
Could you spend a little time on the point or two that you say I make.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at August 30, 2008 12:29 PM

You sound like a fascist when you talk about throwing people with whom you disagree into a concentration camp. Fascism is a slippery slope and one of the first steps is to ignore legitimate (like them or not) grievances and to try to rule by fiat. That Don Carcieri is being forced by the courts to actually govern rather than to dictate tells us all we need to know about this guy's political predilections.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at August 30, 2008 12:37 PM

OTL-the point you made was subtle-Carcieri has some explaining to do-I know I can't just blow off a tax bill and not worry about it-but Joe Almeida on the other side of politics in RI has had some tax problems too-and none of it is significant compared to what they want to do that affects us.
So by bringing up the vulnerability of just about any politician to personal issues,you (I hope)are reminding us that we don't need another campaign season consisting of nothing but nitpicking attacks on candidates' personal lives not having to do with potential public policy matters.
Associations that are other than personal friendships do matter,because they point to potential persons of influence in the candidate's inner circle.
I really want to see Obama and McCain butt heads on substantive issues like the economy,the war on terror,immigration,tax policy,etc.I don't care how many houses they own nor if someone got a deal from a now convicted felon if there was no lawbreaking involved on his part.
The other point you made was important-labelling-it explains away what you want without having to be specific.I admit I've referred to people as "commies"-I don't think the communist party exists as a viable group in the US any more,but when some people express the same points that they used to make I believe it sticks.Mostly I try to define people by their positions,comments,and actions.
the whole issue of mesmerizing political theater was, as I said previously,pioneered and used to this day by dictators.It isn't necessarily bad,but the origins are easy to find.
Some of Obama's events seem like those motivational sessions used by companies like Amway or by religious movements such as Promisekeepers.
If you saw the Chinese mass synchronicity demonstrations before the Olympics you know what I mean.

Posted by: joe bernstein at August 30, 2008 8:57 PM

It's a pleasure to but heads with you. you are fair and passionate. I like to think that I am. That is our common ground.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at August 31, 2008 1:16 AM
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