Thursday, September 6, 2012

Quit Your Crying: Obama's Speech Shows Why One-Term Is Enough

The most striking feeling I have after watching Obama's speech on television tonight is that I expect the folks who voted for this guy in 2008 now realize that he simply was not up to the job of being a successful president.

I first listened to his speech on the radio in my office. It did not sound quite so bad to me in that environment. Maybe I was not really paying attention. On television, however, his speech was clearly a disappointment. On that stage, Obama looked small...like a little ant in a suit. He looked grey and ashen. It looked to me like his eyes were tearing up for about 15 minutes of his speech. All in all, he did not have the usual energy I associate with his standard stump speech, certainly not the energy of his famous 2004 speech.

I also noticed, when I watch the speech on television, that the camera brought to my attention that Obama's face was twitching with stress. Finally, he seemed to be droning on in the same, boring pace - not much vocal variety or spontaneity in this presentation.
  • The most chilling moment for me? Obama's assertion that Al Queda is more dangerous that Russia. What, after all, is Obama going to be more flexible about after the election?
  • The most bizarre? Praising the guy who won the lottery, but then went back to his factory job.
  • The reference to Lincoln? It made me feel Obama is overwhelmed, frightened and incompetent in his job.
  • My advice? Send all the illegal aliens and their children home and I will be just fine with our existing roads and bridges. 
All in all, there was a surprising lack of facts and details in his speech. It was as if he made no effort at all to persuade me to vote for him. Instead, he offered a silly idea that the economic crisis was worse than we expected and that we should endure more and more pain until he figures out how to turn things around.

Ironically, this poor performance comes to us on the heels of a couple of stories which call vivid attention to Obama's short-comings as a leader. The first is Bob Woodward's new book, "The Price of Politics," which goes on sale Sept. 11, 2012. It shows how Obama underestimated Boehner and pressed him for additional tax increases after Boehner thought a deal had been made. Obama's insistence of pushing Boehner further ended up breaking the whole deal apart.

(There is, by the way, a great story in Woodward's book: The bored Pelosi put Obama on mute while he was delivering an empty pep talk to her while she was doing the real work of hammering out the stimulus package.)

Further evidence of dysfunction showed up in a report by Jodi Kantor who sees in Obama some of the same perfectionistic dysfunction which made Jimmy Carter such a poor president. Her behind-the-scenes report shows Obama majoring in the minor things with a misplaced confidence in his own greatness and skill. Meanwhile, Obama's arrogance is thoughtfully considered by Thomas Sowell who remarks that Obama is "...seldom right, but never in doubt." (This, of course, is consistent with my own take on the young Obama who thought he - as a sophomore - had a stronger take on the possibility of Communist revolution in the U.S. than I did as a graduate student at Cornell.)

He also seems to be underestimating my intelligence once again. Obama seeks to suggest that Romney is inexperienced in foreign policy when it is perfectly clear that Obama himself had little experience in foreign policy when he was first elected president. Obama offers us a path for the future and does not address the natural questions of whether or not that path is working out for us now. He argues "everyone plays by the same rules" and yet supports affirmative action policies that make it harder than ever for young white boys and girls to succeed.

The internal contradictions are just mind-numbing. The vacuousness of Obama's lazy thinking was on full display tonight. He tries to score points when he makes fun of Republicans who seem to offer tax cuts as the inappropriate solution to having a cold, but then undercuts his own argument by reminding us that he has made tax cuts. He praises entrepreneurs, but takes away from their success by demanding that they become better citizens. He praises government and then talks about the need to reform it more - something he has neglected to do in situations like junkets in Las Vegas or Solyndra. He asserts that the Republicans are vague about their plans for the future, but then only offers vague ideas himself.

I suspect at this point in his political career Obama expected to be teaching us the value of socialism and wealth redistribution. Instead, he is suffering from the failure of his own collectivist ideas. It frightens me to imagine what Obama will be doing to our country when he no longer fears the verdict of the American people regarding his foreign policies or Supreme Court appointments. Give our reduced family income and abnormally high unemployment I think Clint Eastwood is right: We need to get a new president - a smart one who knows how to create economic prosperity.

John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.

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