Obama’s Iranian friends provided their own commentary in advance of the speech, seizing two Navy riverine ships and detaining 10 sailors (nine men and one woman). The mullahs were expressing their complete and utter contempt for Obama. Obama did things his way, omitting to mention the sailors (or the other Americans held by Iran) in his speech. He looked the other way.
CNN reports that the sailors have been released. It offers no word on the boats. And CNN shows the Obama administration to be doing its usual public relations work on behalf of Iran: “There is nothing to indicate the capture was a hostile act on the part of Iran, a senior Obama administration official said.” There you have it.
The speech gave us a retrospective look at his accomplishments in office and gave us a preview of more to come as he closes out the book on his two terms in office. The retrospective had a (Groucho) Marxian cast to them, as Obama asked Americans to disbelieve their lyin’ eyes.
Obama lectured, hectored, mocked, bragged and prevaricated in the style to which we have all grown accustomed. He displayed the affected pronunciation one uses to talk down to slow learning children. His tone was not calculated to persuade anyone who is not already on board with him. It was offensive and off-putting. Even worse, the substance of the speech was false in all things and the falsity was thoroughgoing, complete with his standard and tiresome false choices. Fantasy and unreality pervaded the speech.
To take one striking example, Obama all but claimed credit for the benefits of the fracking revolution. He wants us to think domestic oil production has spiked and prices have tanked thanks to his support (or “reinvention”) of our energy industry. Now that is brazen.
Regrets, he’s had a few. They were almost too few to mention, though he did mention one. He lamented that “the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better.” He didn’t allocate any of the blame to himself. It is nevertheless a pure product of his style of governance from day one. Rather, he excused himself. “There’s no doubt a president with the gifts of Lincoln or Roosevelt might have better bridged the divide,” he observed. Modesty — false modesty — has its uses. Who would fault Obama for failing that standard?
When Obama strayed from the simply false it was to find the false and stupid. Despite the economic recovery he touted, wages are stagnant. Obama attributed stagnant wages to an outbreak of greed among corporations. Really. This is how he put it: “Immigrants [Ed.: He means “illegal immigrants,” but the phrase is forbidden in the Democrats’ lexicon] aren’t the reason wages haven’t gone up enough; those decisions are made in the boardrooms that too often put quarterly earnings over long-term returns.”
Obama’s tour of the foreign horizon was similarly lacking. He advertised Syria as some kind of a success story. He touted his deal with Iran, of course, but he also portrayed ISIS (“ISIL”) as the j.v. of terrorists, even though he didn’t expressly use the term. ISIS and ISIS-inspired attacks pose a danger, but we needn’t take it too seriously. “Masses of fighters on the back of pickup trucks and twisted souls plotting in apartments or garages” covered both ISIS and (vaguely) the San Bernardino massacre. He reiterated his his promise close Guantanamo for the usual (false) reasons.
Nevertheless, the speech was not without comic relief. Obama formulated a “moonshot” project. It’s time to cure cancer. Obama put Vice President Biden in charge of the project. Because when you think cancer…when you think brainpower…
Toward the end of his speech Obama took a walk down memory lane into the vicinity of his 2004 speech at the Democratic convention and his 2008 speech in St. Paul. Despite the rancor with which he speaks and the reaction he provokes, Obama holds himself out as a man who has come to redeem the time. Invoking Martin Luther King, he praised “voices of unarmed truth and unconditional love.”
Let us pray.