I’ve tried to read all of the conservative commentary on President Obama’s big speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, this past week. The speech is important from a variety of perspectives. Perhaps most significantly, the speech previewed Obama’s reelection campaign themes; insert groans here. To some extent it shows Obama hitching his wagon to the Occupy crowd and provides another case of his leading from behind. It sinks to the level of left-wing tripe. Obama’s heart and mind are full to overflowing with this stuff.
Running for election in 2008 Obama presented himself as a thinly disguised class warrior, the leftward most viable candidate against any Republican nominee. Nevertheless, with the invaluable assistance of the mainstream media, independent voters weary of the Bush years looked past the left-wing ideologue to Obama’s transcendent, messianic pose. It didn’t take long for these voters to see through him, and he’s not going to be able to pull that particular trick off again. Instead we’re going to get Chavismo, American style. As Virgil says in the Aeneid, the descent to Avernus is easy.
That’s not the only contrast between Obama then and now. Matt Welch takes the occasion of the speech to recall Obama’s vows of fiscal probity (a “net spending cut”) in the 2008 campaign. Kyle Smith elaborates on what might be called the internal contradictions of Obamaism on display in the speech.
Michael Barone bluntly characterized the speech as stupid, but did so elegantly, without using the word. Here is how he did it:
Democrats like to think of themselves as the party of smart people. And over the last four years we have heard countless encomiums, and not just from Democrats, of the intellect and perceptiveness of Barack Obama. But a reading of the text of Obama’s December 6 speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, billed as one of his big speeches of the year, shows him to be something like the opposite.
The Krauthammer hammer also fell on the speech, first in Krauthammer’s syndicated weekly Washington Post column and then in televised comments summarized by Jeff Poor at the Daily Caller (with video):
“He gave a nice historical rundown except that he left out a critical three years – his presidency. It is as if it did not exist. It’s as if we jumped from ‘08 to today. This speech was intended to say that everything that happened the past three years has nothing to do with my administration or policies – economic stagnation, debt, high unemployment. It is the result of the malice of the rich.”
Krauthammer added that the speech was designed “to stir the erogenous zones of liberals,” which he said was done with seemingly little effort.
“He talked about that at length,” he continued. “This is a classic example of how little it takes to stir the erogenous zones of liberals. You give them a speech with social justice, a little bit of class war. You wrap up in the patina of intellectualism. Essentially, it is a speech that exonerates anything he has done an obviously not done and says all of our problems today are the result of the plutocrats. That is why he is more like Hugo Chávez than he is Teddy Roosevelt in this speech.”
I understand why American voters on average bought Obama the first time around. This time there are no excuses.