It was a nostalgic hour and seven minutes in Illinois today, as President Barack Obama made his 19th “pivot to the economy” by recycling his old speeches and bromides into a long stroll down memory lane. Fortunately, he was able to wrap things up before the state government of Illinois went bankrupt. That would have been awkward.
All of Obama’s dusty old rhetorical relics were on display. Praise for the World War II generation? Check. Endless discussion of the Sainted Middle Class? You betcha. Blaming his failures on the “mess” he inherited? Oh yes. Castigating corporate CEOs for earning too much money? Yes, he was able to get that off his chest, before departing for his latest taxpayer-financed luxury vacation to Martha’s Vineyard. Taking credit for the allegedly “recovery” that only he can detect? Done! Scaremongering about default on America’s sovereign debt? You got it. Calls for more infrastructure spending? Checkity-check-check-check!
It sounds like Obama and his squadron of propagandists are going to lean really hard on that “New York insurance premiums will drop 50%” canard about ObamaCare. Note that they’re not interested in talking about any other state, because they’d look like fools. The President also didn’t bother to mention that New York insurance premiums are sky-high because they’ve been torturing their individual insurance market with ObamaCare-style regulations for the last 20 years.
Above all else, there was Obama’s boundless faith in government, his embrace of the collective. To this President, independence is greed, liberty is a luxury only the rich can afford, responsibility is cruel, initiative is anarchy, and nobody knows how to run a business better than he does. “Inequality” is the ultimate evil, and only Big Government’s round table of regulatory knights can slay it. “Washington” is a combination of special-interest avarice and blind apathy that Obama was shocked to discover, when he arrived there yesterday. If we want to survive, we must not do anything that would threaten the steady growth of government. And if the government doesn’t take action, we are “standing by and doing nothing in the face of immense change.” Only the actions of the mighty State and its epic leaders make a difference. “Investment” is something the government does, occasionally delegating the task to obedient private entities, who are allowed to retain a modest amount of wealth as a reward for their loyal service.
We’ve come a long way since I first took office. As a country, we’re older and we’re wiser. And as long as Congress doesn’t manufacture another crisis – as long as we don’t shut down the government just as the economy is getting traction, or risk a U.S. default over paying bills we’ve already racked up – we can probably muddle along without taking bold action. Our economy will grow, though slower than it should; new businesses will form, and unemployment will keep ticking down. Just by virtue of our size and our natural resources and the talent of our people, America will remain a world power, and the majority of us will figure out how to get by.
But if that’s our choice – if we just stand by and do nothing in the face of immense change – understand that an essential part of our character will be lost. Our founding precept about wide-open opportunity and each generation doing better than the last will be a myth, not reality. The position of the middle class will erode further. Inequality will continue to increase, and money’s power will distort our politics even more. Social tensions will rise, as various groups fight to hold on to what they have, and the fundamental optimism that has always propelled us forward will give way to cynicism or nostalgia.
That’s not the vision I have for this country. That’s not the vision you have for this country. That is not the America we know. That’s not a vision we should settle for, or pass on to our children. I have now run my last campaign. I do not intend to wait until the next one before tackling the issues that matter. I care about one thing and one thing only, and that’s how to use every minute of the 1,276 days remaining in my term to make this country work for working Americans again. Because I believe this is where America needs to go. I believe this is where the American people want to go. It may seem hard today, but if we are willing to take a few bold steps – if Washington will just shake off its complacency and set aside the kind of slash-and-burn partisanship we’ve seen these past few years – our economy will be stronger a year from now. And five years from now. And ten years from now. More Americans will know the pride of that first paycheck; the satisfaction of flipping the sign to “Open” on their own business; the joy of etching a child’s height into the door of their brand new home.
After all, what makes us special has never been our ability to generate incredible wealth for the few, but our ability to give everyone a chance to pursue their own true measure of happiness. We haven’t just wanted success for ourselves – we’ve wanted it for our neighbors, too. That’s why we don’t call it John’s dream or Susie’s dream or Barack’s dream – we call it the American Dream. That’s what makes this country special – the idea that no matter who you are, what you look like, where you come from or who you love – you can make it if you try.
“That’s why we don’t call it John’s dream or Susie’s dream or Barack’s dream?” Is it too much to ask for the President of the United States to address us as adults?
It’s mildly amusing to hear President Solyndra moan about how “money’s power will distort our politics even more,” after hiring almost 120 lobbyists to work in his Administration, but it’s absolutely grotesque to hear the creator of ObamaCare give a speech about job creation without mentioning his health-care disaster, the greatest job-killing force to be unleashed on our economy in the modern era. But he can’t talk about that, can he? This speech, devoid of any real proposals for job creation, was about halting his polling slide and rebuilding his image as an above-the-fray idealist, not addressing economic malaise.
As he’s been doing constantly since he took office, Obama claimed there are all sorts of nameless Republicans ready to “set aside short term politics and work with me to find common ground.” This divisive and bitterly partisan President loves to cosplay as a non-partisan idealist. And by dismissing the cloud of scandals swirling around his Administration as “phony,” he tried posturing as a squeaky-clean champion of transparency. Even some of his dedicated supporters must have winced at that.
He also loves to claim the mantle of the Greatest Generation’s can-do industrial spirit, but he presides over a can’t-do government that wouldn’t be able to build a bus stop without completing 10 years of paperwork and issuing ten thousand pages of regulations. It would be interesting to ask him how he thinks our grandparents were able to defeat the Axis and rebuild the world without all these cloying, expensive, intrusive Big Government programs he now thinks are indispensable to national survival. Obama can only reconcile that contradiction by believing we are no longer the people we once were, and never will be again. Young people built the Twentieth Century; in the Twenty-First, we can only hope for a caring and attentive hospice nurse like Barack Obama to see us off into the good night, and keep our bedclothes clean.
“We need a new push to rebuild run-down neighborhoods,” Obama declared, while studiously avoiding the neighborhood his ideology has blasted into rubble, Detroit. Detroit had all sorts of big “pushes” to rebuild run-down neighborhoods during its decades of Democrat administration. But everyone who could save the city – those greedy little people Obama finds so insignificant – got pushed out.
To hear Obama talk, you’d almost think he hadn’t blown a trillion dollars on a useless “stimulus,” or buried American enterprise beneath tens of thousands of pages of new regulations. He acts like the free market is still a lawless frontier, haunted by unregulated predators, watched over by a shriveled government sheriff who can’t afford hay for his horse. Constant repetition of his tired old campaign speeches sustains the illusion that he just got here. But as the moribund unemployment numbers, quagmire GDP growth, and panic over the ObamaCare train wreck attest, he’s been here for a long time.