At first listening, President Obama’s grand pivot #19 to jobs speech before a collection of human props at Knox College was a nothingburger. It included no new ideas. It scolded his political opponents for having ideas of their own. It included some talk about the economy being “poised” for growth when it has actually been poisoned against it. It included the usual Obama nod to empty, lofty rhetoric. He likes to talk about the ocean:
One of America’s greatest writers, Carl Sandburg, born right here in Galesburg over a century ago — (applause) — he saw the railroads bring the world to the prairie, and then the prairie sent out its bounty to the world. And he saw the advent of new industries, new technologies, and he watched populations shift. He saw fortunes made and lost. And he saw how change could be painful — how a new age could unsettle long-held customs and ways of life. But he had that frontier optimism, and so he saw something more on the horizon. And he wrote, “I speak of new cities and new people. The past is a bucket of ashes. Yesterday is a wind gone down, a sun dropped in the west. There is only an ocean of tomorrows, a sky of tomorrows.”
Well, America, we’ve made it through the worst of yesterday’s winds. We just have to have the courage to keep moving forward. We’ve got to set our eyes on the horizon. We will find an ocean of tomorrows. We will find a sky of tomorrows for the American people and for this great country that we love.
And as far as policy goes, that means…? Let’s leave Illinois and go to the beach? There’s a movie about a sky captain and a world of tomorrow, but that world was a horror thanks to one man’s selfish malevolent vision.
Obama’s speech also included one of the worst lines ever to grate in a presidential address. During an Elizabeth Warren-esque riff on how the nation’s infrastructure is vital, and against which few argue, Obama tried to go bipartisan. He just ended up going low.
And by the way, this isn’t a Democratic idea. Republicans built a lot of stuff. This is the Land of Lincoln. Lincoln was all about building stuff — first Republican President.
Yes, Abraham Lincoln, the self-educated lawyer, the 16th president, the man who freed the slaves and elevated Grant and saved the union and had the band play “Dixie” after Lee’s surrender, was “all about building stuff.” The image created is of Abe with his stovepipe hat and beard noodling over a set of Lincoln Logs. Barack Obama must believe that he has to demean his predecessors in order to elevate himself. So he takes American rhetoric from the Gettysburg Address to “Lincoln was all about building stuff.”
Rhetorical quality or lack thereof aside, Obama’s address was devious. After the IRS targeting scandal broke on May 10, Obama was at first silent. Five days later, as the scandal built, Obama had to speak so he held forth in the White House and announced that he was “outraged” by the scandal. He said it was unacceptable and he vowed to get to the bottom of it. He told the American people that he had demanded and accepted the resignation of the IRS’ acting commissioner, Steven Miller. That act was devious; Miller’s term was up the next month. Obama’s alleged outrage must not have been all that, because on July 24 in his speech on the economy, he slipped in this line.
But with this endless parade of distractions and political posturing and phony scandals, Washington has taken its eye off the ball. And I am here to say this needs to stop. (Applause.) This needs to stop.
“Phony scandals.” Obama declared that the IRS targeting of his political critics no longer outrages him, just as the scandal crept up into the agency’s chief counsel’s office. It’s no longer an outrage, though we have not yet gotten to the bottom of it. It’s “phony,” as is Fast and Furious, Benghazi, the terrible rollout of Obamacare, the EPA’s war on coal and its secret collusion with activist groups in violation of the Clean Air Act. All of that is just so much phony distraction and posturing. The Obama administration spies on the media — phony scandal. No answers for the families of the dead of Benghazi — phony distraction. Not real. Body counts, leaving Americans behind to die — fake and fake. If the IRS scandal was real, well, the FBI would have interviewed the victims by now, wouldn’t it? It hasn’t, so the scandal is phony. You’re crazy for thinking that it’s real.
Barack Obama is gaslighting America. He is striving to make any focus on his real scandals appear nutty, out of bounds, insane, and illegitimate.