Speechifying Is Hard

Former Subway pitchman Jared Fogle arrives at the federal courthouse in Indianapolis, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015. Fogle is due to formally plead guilty and be sentenced on charges of trading child pornography and paying for sex with minors. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

“Obama Likens Doubters of His Failed Green Energy Scams to Flat Earthers,” blogger “Jammie Wearing Fool” quips:

So what if he’s blowing billions of our tax dollars on failed green energy scams?

How dare you question him!

Obama strongly defended his plans to make America a leader in new energy sources like biofuels, and wind power and solar power, and rebuked Republicans for opposing his plans to cut subsidies to profit cranking oil producers.

“If some of these folks were around when Columbus set sail … they would not have believed that the world was round,” he said, at a Community College in the Maryland suburbs outside Washington DC.


Wait, you mean he’s actually trying this line as an attack on the side of the aisle that doesn’t get the vapors every Columbus Day? Or as its now known in the academia that shaped Obama’s punitive worldview, Native American Genocide Remembrance Day.

Given the Black Armband revisionist history that most of his mentors (Wright, Ayers, Derrick Bell, etc.) have deeply embraced, I’d love to see Obama’s reaction if a journalist asked him, “Mr. President, given the great leaps forward in technology, science and health the West has made as a result, do you think that Christopher Columbus discovering America was ultimately an unalloyed good thing?”

And as JWF notes, even the Obama boosters at the leftwing Talking Points Memo site are, for once, howling at the gaffes in The One’s latest speech. How often do you see a headline like this at TPM? “Obama Mangles U.S., World History In Energy Speech:”

In mocking the GOP, Obama cited an anecdote about [President Rutherford B. Hayes] in which, upon using the telephone for the first time, he said, “It’s a great invention, but who would ever want to use one?”

“That’s why he’s not on Mount Rushmore,” Obama said. “He’s explaining why we can’t do something instead of why we can do something.”

But Nan Card, curator of manuscripts at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Ohio, told TPM that the nation’s 19th president was being unfairly tagged as a Luddite.

“He really was the opposite,” she said. “He had the first telephone in the White House. He also had the first typewriter in the White House. Thomas Edison came to the White House as well and displayed the phonograph. Photographing people who came to the White House and visited at dinners and receptions was also very important to him.”

While often cited, Card said Obama’s cited quote had never been confirmed by contemporary sources and is likely apocryphal. A contemporary newspaper account of his first experience with telephone in 1877 from the Providence Journal records a smiling Hayes repeatedly responding to the voice on the other line with the phrase, “That is wonderful.” You can read the full story here.

“He was pretty technology-oriented for the time,” Card said. “Between the telephone, the telegraph, the phonograph and photography, I think he was pretty much on the cutting edge.”

As for why he’s not on Mt. Rushmore, Card noted that popular history tends to favor wartime presidents in the long run.

Obama’s invocation of the “flat earth” theory in the context of Christopher Columbus’ journey across the ocean also contained some dubious (if incredibly widespread) history.

“If some of these folks were around when Columbus set sail, they must have been founding members of the Flat Earth Society,” Obama said. “They would not have believed that the world was round.”

In fact, historians have long contended that the notion Europeans widely believed the Earth was flat, let alone 15th century Spanish scholars, is a myth developed centuries later.


Oh sure, next you’re going to tell me that John Kerry was lying about Thomas Jefferson and that whole “dissent is patriotic” shtick.

You sort of wish somebody could fire a silver bullet into all of this revisionist history — which brings us to Ed Morrissey, who links to a video from the RNC which tracks how the prices of gas rises whenever Obama deploys one of his worst rhetorical tics:

As Ed jokes, a few more Silver Bullet references, “and Bob Seger and Coors may have a case for trademark violation.”

Finally, at Commentary, Ted R. Bromund’s reaction to Obama’s latest gaseous rhetoric is to joke, “Who Writes This Stuff?”

Look – writing welcoming remarks must be a tedious job, and I wouldn’t like to do it for anything. But would it be too much to ask that his speechwriters avoid obvious solecisms? If you’re going to use the tired “the British burned the White House” joke, don’t follow it up, two paragraphs later, with the claim that “through the grand sweep of history, through all its twists and turns, there is one constant – the rock-solid alliance between the United States and the United Kingdom.” So, except for the whole burning thing, it’s a constant?

No one is a more enthusiastic supporter of the Anglo-American alliance than I am, and I mean that literally. But it’s just not true that the alliance is a constant. It reflects, yes, shared interests, but it was also made, with considerable effort and by taking real political risks, by leaders like Churchill. That was the point of the speech at Fulton – not to celebrate the war-time alliance, but to make the case for its continuance in the nascent Cold War.

But when Obama says that “the relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is the strongest that it has ever been,” just after his administration has announced a “strategic pivot” to Asia and refused to back Britain over the Falklands, he’s not taking any risks, or making any effort, for the alliance at all. He’s just talking. And truly great speakers, like Churchill, don’t believe that assertions can substitute for arguments or actions.


Speaking of Churchill and Obama’s revisionist history, whatever happened to the bust of Winston Churchill that Obama shipped back to England immediately upon taking office?

From the White House, the bust went to the home of the British ambassador in Washington. An experienced Washington hand tells the following story: One night after dinner, the ambassador and an American visitor were looking at the bust. The Ambassador remarked to his visitor, “We are keeping it here for the time being, trusting that your next president, whoever he is, will want it back.”

As Troy Senik writes at Ricochet, “The Special Relationship … in Storage,” which metaphorically sums up our current relations with England — and many of our former allies perfectly. This November, you can help ensure that it’s taken out of mothballs for 2013.

Related: Via Instapundit, Nick Gillespie quips, “When Wall Street Makes Crap Loans, It’s a Crisis; When DOE’s Steven Chu Does It, It’s Green Energy.”


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