Barack Obama’s rhetorical malpractice–as I termed it in a 2011 article–is finally catching up with him. In that article, I wrote:
Since the first occasion I happened to see Mr. Obama speaking, I wrote him off as just another vacuous politician spouting meaningless platitudes and taking a near-Clintonesque amount of time to do it. My views were informed by my years of teaching high school and college speech and debate, but at that point, I would have given him no more than a low ‘C’, and probably, a ‘D.’ My opinion has not changed, and I’ve seen him many times, including his last, disastrous State of the Union Speech which I watched only so I could blog it. I hope readers appreciated my sacrifice on their behalf.
I marvel at pundits—including many conservatives—who believe Mr. Obama to be a superb orator. In reality, he’s seriously flawed and mediocre at best. A truly skilled debater could reduce him to a pile of ashes in short order (Dear Secret Service: I’m speaking figuratively, strictly figuratively). Not only is he frequently logic, fact and truth challenged, his delivery is a virtual checklist of errors.
Pundit Meagan McArdle, has of late been writing articles that are a remarkable combination of rational analysis of Mr. Obama’s corruption, and a naïve tendency to absolve him of any real malicious intent. In one of her most recent writings, McArdle noted that there are two signs Mr. Obama is in trouble and knows it. The first: he is no longer attacking insurance companies, in an apparent attempt to avoid another round of disastrous premium hikes close to the 2014 mid term elections.
The second sign is that the president actually said he was sorry that some people had gotten the misimpression from him that they could keep their health insurance, when they were actually going to lose their policy and be forced to buy a more expensive one. Conservatives may complain that the apology was inadequate, since the president did not admit that he’d misled people. But this is the first time I can remember this president apologizing like this. It may be sincere. It is also a sign that his administration is backed into a corner. It can’t deny that this is happening, nor can it blame anyone else. What’s left to it are expressions of regret.
“It may be sincere??! Conservatives are not the only people complaining that the “apology” is inadequate. To be an actual apology, Mr. Obama would need to admit that he lied–for years–about Obamacare, that he lied in order to trick people into supporting a policy they would have otherwise absolutely rejected. He would need to admit that he demonized people who were right in opposing that policy and in pointing out that he lied. He would have to apologize to insurance companies who have been forced to cancel policies and raise premiums and deductibles not to make windfall profits, but because Obamacare forced them to do it, and the list goes on and on.
I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me. We’ve got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them and we are going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this.
The only reason Mr. Obama made even that extraordinarily weak non-apology was because Congressional Democrats, seeing an approaching electoral tidal wave powered by the tectonic plate shifting of Obamacare backlash (I’m almost ashamed of that metaphor, but couldn’t help myself) demanded he do something, anything, to try to save their pathetic political posteriors. So frightened are they–and apparently Mr. Obama–that the god-king condescended to deliver this weak tea unto the masses.
About what is Mr. Obama “sorry”? That people have found themselves “in this situation based on assurances they got from me.” What “situation” Mr. Obama? Would that be the destructive and fundamentally dishonest socialist law you imposed on an unwilling nation by legislative trickery and outright lies? Or is the “situation” of losing the insurance and being bankrupted by premium increases your law imposed, bankruptcy and increases you knew were coming? This indicates possible sincerity to Ms. McArdle and others?
I suspect this time, knowing that Mr. Obama and his toadies “hear them” will not do the trick. Mr. Obama has been “hearing” and ignoring Americans for five years. If–likely when–my insurance premiums double or triple, like virtually every middle class American, I’ll be in real trouble. Mrs. Manor and I are old enough to have continuing medical problems. These problems, with modern medicines and attendant treatment, are absolutely manageable, our quality of life, good. But without those medicines and treatment, we will both likely have dramatically shortened lifespans, and a miserable quality of life in our final days. But even for the younger and completely healthy, increased premiums will be a disaster.
A doubling would essentially take away all of our disposable, unencumbered monthly income, as well as the possibility of saving a penny. We would find ourselves pinching every penny possible in order to survive. We would find our small savings rapidly dwindling. Tens of millions of middle class Americans would do worse. A larger increase–as many Americans are already facing–would simply be impossible. We could not afford it, as Mr. Obama has been so fond of saying, period.
Yet Mr. Obama rolls onward into that bright socialist future, relying entirely on rhetoric rather than governance. It is what he is: all sound and fury, signifying nothing–to paraphrase Shakespeare–and no substance. Charles Krauthammer notes:
This rather bizarre belief in the unlimited power of the speech arises from Obama’s biography. Isn’t that how he rose? Words. It’s not as if he built a company, an enterprise, an institution. He built one thing — his own persona. By persuasion. One great speech in 2004 propels him to the presidential level. More great speeches and he wins the White House.
This odd belief that rhetoric trumps reality leads to strange scenes. Like the ShamWow pitch, Obama’s nationally televised address trying to resell Obamacare. Don’t worry about the website, he said. I’ll get it fixed. And besides, there are alternatives, such as an 800 number that he promptly gave out. Twice.
But then comes governance. A speech in Cairo, utterly crushed by the Arab Spring. Talk of a Russian reset, repeatedly thrown back at him by a contemptuous Russian dictator. Fifty-four speeches to get health care enacted — only to see it now imperiled by the reality of its ruinous rollout and broken promises.
I’m not surprised that Obama tells untruths. He’s surely not the only politician to do so. I’m just surprised that he chooses to tell such obvious ones — ones that will inevitably be found out.
Who will tell Obama that lies so transparent render rhetoric not just useless but ridiculous?
As though Barack Obama cares.
I doubt that anyone can present a single incidence of President Obama delivering a sincere apology–for anything. Actual human beings have to do it often, and with convincing sincerity. Mere existence with others requires it. What is also required is action: without taking action that corrects the wrong, of what good are mere words, no matter how “soaring”? Without the credibility that comes with the ability to demonstrate contrition, we simply can’t function; others don’t trust us. And after this non-apology apology, there remains no evidence of a sincere Obama mea culpa.
That’s leadership in the age of Obama. As Sarah Palin once said, “how’s that hopenchange workin’ out for yah?”