Do they even listen to themselves? — the Barack Obama edition

Barack Obama 2016 SOTUDuring his final (thank you God) State of the Union address, during his discussion about Islam, Obama had something to say about those who dare insult Islam:

In a swipe at some Republican presidential candidates, he warned against “voices urging us to fall back into tribes, to scapegoat fellow citizens who don’t look like us or pray like us or vote like we do or share the same background.”

Hinting at recent divisive comments by Republican presidential contender Donald Trump, who called to block Muslims from entering the US, Obama said Americans must “reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion.

“This isn’t a matter of political correctness. It’s a matter of understanding what makes us strong. The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith…When politicians insult Muslims, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid bullied, that doesn’t make us safer. That’s not telling it like it is. It’s just wrong. It diminishes us in the eyes of the world. It makes it harder to achieve our goals. And it betrays who we are as a country,” he said.

If I were cross-examining him, I’d ask something along these lines (and yes, I’ve been reading way too many transcripts lately):

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The Bookworm Beat 1/21/15 — “Post-SOTU” edition and Open Thread

Woman writingI didn’t watch the SOTU. Aside from finding Obama a boring, inelegant speaker, I was helping a client with trial prep. Today, the trial got continued for a few months so, before settling in for a nice 12 hour sleep (I wish!), I can blog — and share with you, among other things, a couple of my favorite SOTU analyses. I’ve got a lot to say, so I’ll just start saying….

My two favorite SOTU wrap-ups

As I admitted above, I did not watch the SOTU, so I can’t actually say if these wrap-ups are accurate. I can just say that I liked them.

From Neo-Neocon:

But Obama long ago concluded that the best defense is a good offense. He has never had to face the consequences of his failures. He has been able to fool most of the people most of the time, at least when it counted. He has skated past disaster after disaster, and gotten away with lie after lie. The biggest repercussion he’s been met with—the 2014 Democratic defeat in Congress—may not stop him. Republicans are somewhat toothless, in part because they are divided among themselves but also because Obama has veto power that will be difficult to override. He’s also got that phone and that pen, and the will to use them. He has successfully transformed the US into a second-rate power and allies into enemies (or at least, into abandoned and confused ex-allies). And he has turned enemies into, if not allies, then gloating and stronger forces in the world for whatever evil they’ve got in mind.

It’s actually worked out very well for Obama. So why not brag?

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Wednesday Wrap-Up (and Open Thread)

Victorian posy of pansiesI didn’t watch Obama’s SOTU.  Between cooking and carpooling, I had neither the time nor the inclination.  I’ve never been impressed by “Obama the Orator,” and his speech’s details had already been leaked, so the whole thing fell into the “Why Bother?” category.  I did hear one interesting thing about it, though, while I was walking the dog and listening to Rush.

A caller named Jesse found Obama’s homage to Cory Remsburg off-putting.  I too found it off-putting, but Jesse put his finger on the problem:  Obama’s focus was about Remsburg the warrior but was, instead, about Remsburg the victim.  Obama made no real mention of Remsburg’s actual service.  Instead, Obama spoke about Remsburg’s injuries and his recovery (which is laudable, of course).

Obama could have given precisely the same speech been given about someone in a bad car accident.  Jesse and Rush both noted that, in previous administrations, when the president celebrated this or that veteran, at least some of the praise focused on the veteran’s bringing war to the enemy.  Now, though, the Left finds noteworthy only the injury part of “injured vets.”

Jesse felt, and I agree, that Obama’s purpose in talking about Remsburg was to highlight his opposition to the military, to America’s wars, and to the notion of manliness itself.


For those of you interested in a conservative take on Obama’s SOTU, Bryan Preston offers one.


Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post’s resident “fact checker” seems to have soured on Obama.  Rather than doing the old “false but accurate shtick” that characterized Obama’s first term, Kessler simply points out that Obama is making up things as he goes along.

I don’t believe Kessler has actually seen the light.  As was true for all of the MSM, he knew what was going on the first time around, but wasn’t going to do anything that might derail a second term.  Members of the Left might have gotten over its love affair with Obama, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t still wholeheartedly approve of his agenda.


A new book calling for a socialist revolution features contributions by Obama’s buddy Bill Ayers, among others.  As you chew over that, think about this too:  Back in the 1930s and onward through the end of the Soviet Union, the vast majority of Americans were staunchly opposed to Communism despite the fact that they really hadn’t seen it in action.  Countries such as the Soviet Union or China were closed to them (or run through the Duranty-filter), so those Americans who hated Communism did so because they knew — without data — that Communism stifled freedom and created a tyrannical state.

The fall of the Soviet Union and the opening of China revealed that Communism was worse even than anyone had guessed.  If you don’t believe me, just ask the kulaks that Stalin “re-educated” in the Ukraine or the Chinese who were around when Mao started his Great Leap Forward.  Oh, wait!  You can’t ask them because they’re dead.  Depending on estimates, Stalin killed roughly 7,000,000 kulaks through execution or starvation.  He was a piker compared to Mao, though, who killed 50,000,000 or more during his Great Leap forward, again through execution or starvation.  Despite knowing these facts with certainty nowadays (rather than merely guessing them, as we once did), communism and socialism are no longer considered dirty words.  This is what 40 years of Progressive education has wrought.


Ted Cruz has written a really good Wall Street Journal opinion piece about Obama’s imperial presidency:

Of all the troubling aspects of the Obama presidency, none is more dangerous than the president’s persistent pattern of lawlessness, his willingness to disregard the written law and instead enforce his own policies via executive fiat. On Monday, Mr. Obama acted unilaterally to raise the minimum wage paid by federal contracts, the first of many executive actions the White House promised would be a theme of his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

The president’s taste for unilateral action to circumvent Congress should concern every citizen, regardless of party or ideology. The great 18th-century political philosopher Montesquieu observed: “There can be no liberty where the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or body of magistrates.” America’s Founding Fathers took this warning to heart, and we should too.


And speaking of Obama’s imperial presidency, Victor Davis Hanson has written one of his best works about Obama’s lawlessness.  I highly recommend it:

We are reentering Nixonian times, or perhaps worse, given that a free press at least went after Nixon’s misdeeds and misadventures. Now it has silenced itself for fear of harming a once-in-century chance for a fellow progressive’s makeover of America. We live in an age when a CNN moderator interrupts a presidential debate to help her sputtering candidate, and when a writer for the often ironic and sarcastic New Yorker sees no irony in doing a fawning interview with the president, tagging along on a shakedown jet tour from one mansion of crony capitalists to the next — as Obama preaches to the head-nodders about inequality and fairness in order to ensure that the bundled checks pour in.

Without the media acting as a watchdog, the administration has with impunity found the IRS useful in going after political opponents. When Obama’s IRS appointees were exposed, he for the moment called their deeds outrageous; when the media did not pursue the outrage, he wrote it off as a nothing story.


And finally, Megan McArdle points out that even Democrats are beginning to realize that there’s truth to the saying “be careful what you ask for; you might get it.”  It turns out that when they have a president desirous of fulfilling their wish list, some of the more intelligent among them are realizing that this way lies economic madness.  (Of course, that hasn’t stopped Al Franken from trying to push a constitutional amendment to forbid corporate speech, while keeping alive and well union, especially government union, speech.  Apparently it’s not enough for him that almost all of the largest donors in politics are Leftist unions.  He wants all of the largest donors to be Leftist unions.)

State of the Union Open Thread

I can’t make myself listen to Obama.  He hectors and I don’t need that in my life.  I’ll read the speech, and the multiple analyses of the speech, tomorrow.  Until then, I’d love to hear what you have to say about it — or what you have to say about anything else that’s interesting.

Speaking of interesting, it seems that Dorner is dead and I say good riddance to bad rubbish.  My sincerest condolences go to the families and friends of those he so cruelly murdered.  My thoughts are also with those who were unlucky enough to find themselves in the LAPD’s panicky line of fire.

Oh, one other thing — you knew this was going to happen.  The powers that be want to get women into the SEALS.  They’re assuring us that they won’t lower the standards except that, in the next breath, they say they’re going to review the standards to lower them. Attention, SEALS:  Run while you can.  Speaking as a woman, and a pretty strong, aggressive one at that, I can still tell you that, if the standards are lowered to accommodate even the toughest women, you guys are going to start having to watch your back because, with the best will in the world, these women won’t have your six.

It’s a crazy world, isn’t it?  Was it always this crazy, but we just didn’t know because there was no 24 hour media and no internet?  Or are the wheels really coming off the bus?

No, you weren’t imagining the strident class warfare in Obama’s SOTU speech.

We tend to find what we’re looking for.  Since conservatives know that Obama comes from a socialist background, has advanced policies that are antithetical to capitalism, and has defeated opportunities and initiatives that are supportive of capitalism, we’re going to assume that, in any speech he gives, ordinary statements are actually code for a socialist agenda.  Having this predisposition (“to a hammer, everything is a nail”) can damage ones credibility.  Monomania is not normally associated with reliable analysis.

Except that, with regard to Obama’s recent State of the Union speech, I can tell you with a certain amount of assurance that all those conservatives who saw in it a strident call to class warfare, the end of an American system based upon equality of opportunity, and the destruction of the free market were probably right.  Or, if they weren’t right, they’ve met an equal, although completely opposite, monomania that manages to read the same message into Obama’s speech.

(Come on, Bookworm, spit it out!  What are you saying?)

What I’m saying is that the Occupy crowd is thrilled with Obama’s speech, which they see as a high level articulation of their beliefs and agenda:

Linking the dominant themes in Obama’s nationally televised address Tuesday to the mantras of the Occupy Wall Street movement would have been unthinkable five months ago. But in having its message echoed in the State of the Union address, the Occupy movement reached a milestone in changing the national conversation.

“Once you say the definition of my campaign is fairness, you don’t have to say anything else,” said Lawrence Rosenthal, an expert on social movements who directs UC Berkeley’s Center for the Comparative Study of Right-Wing Movements. “It is the central tenet” of the Occupy movement, he added.


Obama never specifically mentioned Occupy – and probably won’t, analysts said, because the term remains politically divisive. For some, the dominant images of Occupy are of street activists confronting police and committing vandalism, as has occurred several times after Occupy demonstrations in Oakland.

“He won’t, because given half a chance, the Republicans would try to link him to everything that’s gone on with the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations,” said James Miller, a professor of politics at the New School for Social Research in New York.

Still, analysts found Obama’s speech full of several Occupy-related themes: The president said he would not reward multinational corporations who “remove jobs from this country” and demanded “no bailouts, no handouts, no copouts.” Obama even outed himself as a member of the monied class when he said that “we need to change our tax code so that people like me, and an awful lot of members of Congress, pay our fair share of taxes.”

“Tax reform should follow the ‘Buffett rule,’ ” Obama said, referring to billionaire Warren Buffett, who has volunteered to pay more taxes. “If you make more than $1 million a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes.”

When Obama said Tuesday that “if you make under $250,000 a year, like 98 percent of American families, your taxes shouldn’t go up,” Rosenthal said, “it’d be hard not to say that he was alluding to the Occupy movement.”

(Read the rest here.)

Apparently while Occupy the White House was a bust from the sidewalk point of view, it worked perfectly when it came to occupying the Oval Office.


Figuring out the subtext in Obama’s SOTU

Clark S. Judge sent to Hugh Hewitt a great note analyzing what Obama really said during the SOTU.  I’m going to do something here that I almost never do, which is to reprint the note in its entirety at my own blog, albeit reformatted from the original.  Why?  Because the paragraph breaks vanished at Hugh Hewitt’s site, making it very difficult for those of us who are struggling with glasses versus computer glasses versus bifocals to read the darn thing:

SOTU: Did I hear that right?

By Clark S. Judge: managing director, White House Writers Group, Inc.; chairman, Pacific Research Institute.

It sounded like such a soft, even conservative speech.

But let me get this straight:

1) banks will be punished (do I understand this right, by a committee headed by Eric Holder?) if their lending is too risky,

2) and they will be required (by the same committee) to give more home loans (meaning, it must be, to people who would otherwise not qualify for the loans, or else the government would not have to be involved) at lower rates (which means rates that do not compensate them as much as the market says they need to be compensated for the risks they are taking, all of which sounds like a new edition of the policies that brought on the financial collapse),

3) which must mean that they will have to pull back on risky lending someplace other than homes,

4) the only place that most banks would be able to pull back on riskier customers would be loans to small and new businesses,

5) but these are the businesses that have created just about all the jobs over the last 20 years and he said early in the speech he wants to encourage them,

6) so maybe their growth capital will come from selling stock to the kinds of people who invest in new and small businesses,

7) but through the Buffet Rule he’s going to double the tax rate on investment income for those people, meaning that, like the banks, they can’t be fully compensated for the risk of backing small and new businesses,

8) so they will not invest more in small and new companies but in big established firms,

9) so more of those small and new firms will have to turn to the government for capital,

10) which luckily he said would up its investing in early stage businesses with “the best” ideas,

11) “the best” ideas meaning, I guess, as with Solyndra, ideas that advance his agenda through companies whose owners support his candidacy),

11.2) or maybe it would be companies that agree to invite unionization (since the unions have failed to organize the new and dynamic sectors of the economy, which is why they have been shrinking),

12) but then with the big businesses, he wants to punish American companies if they invest overseas,

13) and he wants to increase exports,

14) but being competitive in the global markets often means having part of your production near your markets, which is why many companies have opened production facilities abroad and many foreign companies (BMW and Honda, for example) have opened their facilities here,

15) so he’ll make these companies less competitive, meaning less able to export anything that might be paired with some other product the company makes abroad in order to attract buyers,

16) and it also means he’ll have the U.S. ignoring many of the international trading rules of which we have been the principal sponsor since the end of WWII, rules that have led to an incredible growth in widely shared wealth all over the planet,

17) which means that, if he follows through, he’ll blow up the post-WWII global economic system,

18) which in the very short run may help the uncompetitive American labor unions but in the not-so-long run would devastate every economy on earth,

19) but it would also mean he would be in a position to decide where big companies could invest, and when, just as he’ll be in control of all new and small businesses, too,

20) meanwhile he is going to tell states and localities what their budget priorities should be,

21) and make them adopt his policies for running their schools, leaving me to wonder, when he’s through, what won’t he control?

I believe that’s what I heard the president advocate last night. But one term I didn’t hear, maybe I missed it: “The Constitution.” Then again, wasn’t he suggesting that, in brave times like these, we need to put aside those old rules. Do I have this straight?

Obama’s great “love” for the military

One of my father’s favorite stories concerned his niece, who lived on a farm in Israel.  Daddy was visiting there one day when he saw his niece, who was then about 5, playing with a wee little baby goat.   At this point in his narrative, Daddy would always stop and explain to the city-bred people around him that there are few things cuter than a frolicking kid.  Here, see for yourself:

What Daddy found so amusing was what his niece was saying to the cute as they played:  “Oh, little goat, little goat!  I love you so much.  [Pause for kissing the goat.]  We’re going to have you for dinner tonight!”

Our president might have been listening in on that story.

In his State of the Union address, Obama began and ended by billing and cooing about the wonders of a military that perfectly carried out his order to kill Osama bin Laden. His very first words were an encomium to the troops:

Last month, I went to Andrews Air Force Base and welcomed home some of our last troops to serve in Iraq.  Together, we offered a final, proud salute to the colors under which more than a million of our fellow citizens fought — and several thousand gave their lives.

We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected around the world.  (Applause.)  For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq.  (Applause.)  For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country.  (Applause.)  Most of al Qaeda’s top lieutenants have been defeated.  The Taliban’s momentum has been broken, and some troops in Afghanistan have begun to come home.

These achievements are a testament to the courage, selflessness and teamwork of America’s Armed Forces.  At a time when too many of our institutions have let us down, they exceed all expectations.  They’re not consumed with personal ambition.  They don’t obsess over their differences.  They focus on the mission at hand.  They work together.

Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example.  (Applause.)  Think about the America within our reach:  A country that leads the world in educating its people.  An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs.  A future where we’re in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren’t so tied to unstable parts of the world.  An economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded.

By the way, am I the only one who finds that last paragraph a bizarre non-sequitur?  How does praise for the troops carrying out their mission transform into our following their example by having lots of (government-funded) education, (presumably green) energy independence, and a big high-tech sector?  Mr. President, need I remind you that Rule Number One of timeless oratory is that it should make sense.

Eventually, after almost an hour of standard campaign bloviation, all of which involved the government spending more and more and more taxpayer money on green energy, on Leftist education, on tried-and-failed social welfare initiatives, and on other Big Government boondoggles, Obama got himself back to his beloved troops (emphasis mine):

Anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, doesn’t know what they’re talking about.  (Applause.)

That’s not the message we get from leaders around the world who are eager to work with us.  That’s not how people feel from Tokyo to Berlin, from Cape Town to Rio, where opinions of America are higher than they’ve been in years.  Yes, the world is changing.  No, we can’t control every event.  But America remains the one indispensable nation in world affairs –- and as long as I’m President, I intend to keep it that way.  (Applause.)

That’s why, working with our military leaders, I’ve proposed a new defense strategy that ensures we maintain the finest military in the world, while saving nearly half a trillion dollars in our budget.  To stay one step ahead of our adversaries, I’ve already sent this Congress legislation that will secure our country from the growing dangers of cyber-threats.  (Applause.)

Above all, our freedom endures because of the men and women in uniform who defend it.  (Applause.)  As they come home, we must serve them as well as they’ve served us.  That includes giving them the care and the benefits they have earned –- which is why we’ve increased annual VA spending every year I’ve been President.  (Applause.)  And it means enlisting our veterans in the work of rebuilding our nation.


Which brings me back to where I began.  Those of us who’ve been sent here to serve can learn a thing or two from the service of our troops.  When you put on that uniform, it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white; Asian, Latino, Native American; conservative, liberal; rich, poor; gay, straight.  When you’re marching into battle, you look out for the person next to you, or the mission fails.  When you’re in the thick of the fight, you rise or fall as one unit, serving one nation, leaving no one behind.

One of my proudest possessions is the flag that the SEAL Team took with them on the mission to get bin Laden.  On it are each of their names.  Some may be Democrats.  Some may be Republicans.  But that doesn’t matter.  Just like it didn’t matter that day in the Situation Room, when I sat next to Bob Gates — a man who was George Bush’s defense secretary — and Hillary Clinton — a woman who ran against me for president.

All that mattered that day was the mission.  No one thought about politics.  No one thought about themselves.  One of the young men involved in the raid later told me that he didn’t deserve credit for the mission.  It only succeeded, he said, because every single member of that unit did their job — the pilot who landed the helicopter that spun out of control; the translator who kept others from entering the compound; the troops who separated the women and children from the fight; the SEALs who charged up the stairs.  More than that, the mission only succeeded because every member of that unit trusted each other — because you can’t charge up those stairs, into darkness and danger, unless you know that there’s somebody behind you, watching your back.

“Little troops, Little troops, I love you so much.  [Pause for kissing up to the troops.]”  “I’ve proposed a new defense strategy that ensures we maintain the finest military in the world, while saving nearly half a trillion dollars in our budget.”  “I’m going to have you for dinner tonight.”

Making our troops pay for the Democrats’ frenzied spending binge is a disaster in the making, for them and for us.  The troops are the canary in the coal mine.  If Obama uses his budgetary powers to eat them all up, they are sitting ducks on the battle field and we, suddenly, are sitting ducks at home.  Obama’s great love for his troops is meaningless if he fails to provide them with the financial support they need to have the best weapons and the best training in the world.  I’m all for trimming fat, reducing redundancies, killing bureaucracy, and generally increasing efficiency.  Bankrupting the military, however, will not achieve those goals.

I started this post with a true story, and I’ll end it with an old, rather bad joke:

A famously miserly farmer informed his neighbors that his donkey was costing him too much, and that he was going to train the animal to do without food.  His neighbors were skeptical.  When they next saw him, they asked how the experiment went.

“It went very well,” he said.  “The first week, I cut the oats out of his diet.  That donkey kept going just fine and I saved me a bunch of money.  The second week, I cut the grain out of his diet, and he was still doing his job, and I was saving even more money.  It was only in the third week that I had some problems, but I think I can fix them.  I cut the last thing — the straw — out of his diet, and the damn thing up and died.”

How not to train the next generation of warriors in Obama’s stripped down military

Obama has consistently handed out cash to the unions and his cronies, but he’s planning on stripping the military to its bare bones.  This is not the same as trimming the fat and increasing efficiency.  Instead, he envisions the American military in say, circa 1917 or 1941.  Yes, we won both those wars, but at a terrible cost.  Had we been stronger and more pro-active, each might have ended more quickly and with less bloodshed.

Because my brain works in mysterious ways, I have visions of Obama saying that all the kids playing Call of Duty are pretty much pre-trained, making much of boot camp unnecessary.  That’s so not true.

Doesn’t Obama’s oration remind you of that old commercial “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV.”  This SOTU has a soundtrack:  “I’m not an executive, but I play one on TV.  I’m not a statesman, but I play one on TV.  I’m not a Commander in Chief, but I play one on TV.”

Obama is such an easy target that it’s a shame the Republicans are determined to kill only each other

We can expect tomorrow night’s State of the Union address to be an action-packed hour (or so) of vitriol and self-pity.  Obama will cherry-pick a few numbers about the 1% and then whine about how he’s been trying really hard to destroy that same 1%, but that a vast array of insurmountable obstacles — Congress, Republicans, the media, the American people, the Jews — have prevented him from doing so.  In a most-read piece, Joseph Curl explains what Obama will be hiding:

The unemployment rate when Mr. Obama was elected was 6.8 percent; today it is 8.5 percent — at least that’s the official number. In reality, the Financial Times writes, “if the same number of people were seeking work today as in 2007, the jobless rate would be 11 percent.”

In addition, there are now fewer payroll jobs in America than there were in 2000 — 12 years ago — and now, 40 percent of those jobs are considered “low paying,” up 10 percent from when President Reagan took office. The number of self-employed has dropped 2 million to 14.5 million in just six years.

Regular gasoline per gallon cost $1.68 in January 2009. Today, it’s $3.39 — that’s a 102 percent increase in just three years. (By the way, if you’re keeping score at home, gas was $1.40 a gallon when George W. Bush took office in 2001, $1.68 when he left office — a 20 percent increase.)

Electricity bills have also skyrocketed, with households now paying a record $1,420 annually on average, up some $300.

Some 48 percent of all Americans — 146.4 million — are considered by the Census Bureau either as “low-income” or living in poverty, up 4 million from when Mr. Obama took office; 57 percent of all children in America now live in such homes.

And that’s not even the half of it.  You can read the rest here.

In this target-rich environment, the tone-deaf Mitt Romney is attacking . . . Newt.  This is why Newt is surging.  While Mitt attacks him, Newt, although he too has taken too many time-outs for vicious internecine warfare, hasn’t forgotten that the American people care about the economy and national security.  Even Newt, though, could step up the attacks on Obama.  It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

And here’s a judo-style suggestion for dealing with all of Obama’s victim talk:

President Obama claims that the media misrepresents him, Republicans are evil, Congress is obstructionist, and the American people are lazy.  These are the reasons, he says, that he has been unable to implement his agenda.  It’s not his fault; it’s everyone else’s fault. 

Well, let’s assume, solely for the sake of argument, that everything the President says about the obstacles facing him is true.  That assumed truth leads to one, and only one possible question:  What the heck type of a leader is President Obama?  By his own admission, he is unable to handle anyone or anything that stands in his way.  This isn’t just an inability to handle the 3 am phone call.  Instead, this is the inability even to pick up the phone. 

The man who occupies the highest leadership position in the land — indeed, in the world — has repeatedly conceded that he isn’t up to the job.  Since he’s not going to quit, it’s up to you, the American people, to fire him.  And when you replace him, I’m the man for the job because….

Obligatory post about POTUS’ SOTU speech *UPDATED*

Preparing and eating dinner took precedence of the President’s first State of the Union speech, so I didn’t watch it in real time.  Indeed, because I find Obama’s presentation dull (he has the cadences of a slightly defective metronome), I haven’t listened to it at all, but I have read it.  I therefore felt that, as an obsessive blogger, it behooved me to make a few comments.

The most obvious comment to make is that the speech was sooooo loooong, clocking in at over an hour.  This might have been okay, but for the second most obvious comment I’m about to make, which is that it was dull.  It suffered from exactly the same defect as Obama’s inauguration speech:  there was no underlying theme tying it together.  It was, instead, a slightly tempered laundry list of Leftist dreams, wrapped up with a wooden peroration about America’s wonderfulness.  In other words, leaden, not stirring — an expected sin from most presidents, but an unforgivable sin in a president elected primarily based upon the expectation that he would be the greatest orator since Cicero.

By my rough count, there are 37 “I’s” in the speech.  By contrast, Lincoln’s Second Inaugural speech had one “I” in it.  Because we live in a more confessional age than in times past, a review of SOTU speeches from the last 40 years probably have their fair numbers of “I’s” in them, but they tend to leap out in an Obama speech, since they are both overused and emblematic of the man himself.

Speaking of the man himself, I’m patting myself on the back, in a slightly depressed way, because the speech was exactly what one could have predicted after reading my attack on Obama’s narcissism.  It was dishonest, defensive and, significantly, showed an inability to be flexible in the face of a rebuff from the voters.  Where both Reagan and Clinton, when rebuffed, tacked to the middle, Obama continues to push an agenda that is more statist than the American people want.

I have no desire to get bogged down in the endless minutiae of Obama’s speech.  It reminds me of the briefs written by a lawyer against whom I had the misfortune to litigate almost 20 years ago.  To the uninitiated, his briefs, aside from the grammatical errors, looked like ordinary documents, with facts, laws and arguments.  Only to the educated eye was it clear that each sentence contained at least one factual or legal falsehood or twisted argument.  Unfortunately, it might take a paragraph or a page to assemble the facts, law and argument necessary to expose even a single misstatement.  This meant that his briefs were smooth and seamless, although entirely false, whereas my opposing briefs, in their effort to educate the court, were long and complicated.  Smart judges ruled in my favor; dumb judges (and, boy, are there a lot of those in San Francisco Superior Court), took the easy way out, only to be reversed, every time, at the appellate level.  Because this is a blog, not a legal brief, I’m not going to occupy myself with trying to right every factual wrong in Obama’s speech.  But there are a few points I want to make.

Obama starts the speech by complaining that things were rotten when he arrived in town, by saying that he did everything possible to make it better, and then by expressing surprise that, one year later, things are worse.  Hmmm.  Could it be . . . and I’m just suggesting here . . . but could it be that the “everything” Obama did is what made things worse?  Obama doesn’t seem to recognize that the efforts he put in place, which involved burdening our country with decades worth of crippling debt, much of which went to political pandering, might be a cause-and-effect situation:

One year ago, I took office amid two wars, an economy rocked by a severe recession, a financial system on the verge of collapse and a government deeply in debt. Experts from across the political spectrum warned that if we did not act, we might face a second depression. So we acted — immediately and aggressively. And one year later, the worst of the storm has passed.

But the devastation remains. One in 10 Americans still cannot find work. Many businesses have shuttered. Home values have declined. Small towns and rural communities have been hit especially hard. And for those who’d already known poverty, life has become that much harder.

Laughably, after stating the above about the massive unemployment, Obama makes his risible statement that, in the face of these rising unemployment numbers, his wonderful policies mean that “there are about 2 million Americans working right now who would otherwise be unemployed.”  People like me, those who believe in the marketplace, and believe that government is slow and, because of its concentration of powers, inclined to corruption, think that, had the money been disseminated to businesses and individuals in the form of tax breaks and refunds, there would have been a whole lot more employed and a whole lot less unemployed walking around.

Did you barf, as I did, when Obama said “I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change”?  I think ordinary Americans are figuring out that the “overwhelming scientific evidence” is a cesspool of ambition, distraction, uglification and derision, with some actual facts thrown in for leavening.  I’ll concede that the climate is changing, because it has done so for 3 billion or so years.  I’ll concede, wholeheartedly, that we are the earth’s stewards, and that it behooves us to treat it with respect, for our own benefit and that of our children.  But I will not allow myself to be bullied into stupid economic decisions, all in the name of false, agenda-driven “science.”

Throughout the speech, to cover up for the government’s culpability in worsening the recession by taking money away from the people and packing it into the government, Obama engages in populist attacks against the marketplace.  There are little throwaway lines (“bad behavior on Wall Street is rewarded, but hard work on Main Street isn’t”) that culminate in Obama’s unconscionable attack on the United States Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court justices, Sotomayor included, responded by sitting there absolutely frozen in shock, surrounded by a sea of applauding Democrats:

With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections. I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people. And I’d urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to correct some of these problems.

I don’t believe that a President has ever used a SOTU as a vehicle to attack the Supreme Court — and nodding to the “separation of powers” doesn’t make it any better. The statement is especially foul considering that the Supreme Court decision goes to the heart of America’s uniqueness, it’s difference from all other countries, and that is its veneration for freedom of speech, especially in the political marketplace. I think that even ordinary Americans, unversed in the Constitutional law that was allegedly Obama’s academic specialty, have figured this one out.  [UPDATE:  Not only was Obama’s attack on the Supreme Court unprecedented it was just plain wrong, explaining Alito’s shocked “not true” response.]

The level of self-delusion in the speech is staggering.  A few paragraphs after his extraordinary attack on the Supremes, Obama, self-deprecatingly, assures everyone that he never thought he was the Messiah:

Of course, none of these reforms will even happen if we don’t also reform how we work with one another. Now, I’m not naive. I never thought that the mere fact of my election would usher in peace and harmony — and some post-partisan era. I knew that both parties have fed divisions that are deeply entrenched. And on some issues, there are simply philosophical differences that will always cause us to part ways. These disagreements, about the role of government in our lives, about our national priorities and our national security, they’ve been taking place for over 200 years. They’re the very essence of our democracy.

This is, to say the least, a peculiar statement from a man whose sole platform, in the absence of any experience or accomplishments, was that his wonderful temperament would usher in a new era of government, free from partisan fighting at home, creating peace and harmony abroad, and then, just for an encore, he would heal the planet and lower the seas.  His whole shtick, one that vanished the moment he announced in a meeting that he won, and his opponents lost, was that he would transcend all serious fighting and petty bickering on the earth, an act that had his followers likening him to a sort of God.

And that’s really all I want to say now.  Yes, there is more and more to attack, whether on speech, jobs, ugly populism, national security, etc., but I grow weary just thinking of that task.  Bottom line:  despite the rebuff in Massachusetts (and New Jersey and Virginia), Obama chooses to believe that nothing has really changed.  Americans, he thinks, want big government.  Indeed, he could have “X’d” out the entire speech and simply said this:

Madam Speaker, Vice President Biden, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:

Better living through Big Government

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.

And as for that last line, which I copied directly out of his actual speech, I find it funny coming out of the mouth of a man who can’t seem to find a church in Washington, D.C. — even though I know the City boasts a few churches — and who has not attended any serious religious occasions since arriving in D.C.  Just a reminder, as if you needed one, that his real God is government.

If you’re a glutton for punishment, you can watch the speech here.  At around 46:30, you can see Obama’s attack on the Supreme’s, followed by their shocked reaction.

UPDATEMark Steyn says clearly what I, in a muddled way, tried to say about the vision-free, laundry-list quality of Obama’s speech:

It sounds like an all-purpose speech for President Anyone: We’ve met here in good times and bad, war and peace, prosperity and depression, Shrove Tuesday and Super Bowl Sunday, riding high in April, shot down in May. We’ve been up and down and over and out and I know one thing. Each time we find ourselves flat on our face, we pick ourselves up and get back in the race. That’s life, pause for applause . . .

There’s no sense that, even as platitudinous filler, it arises organically from who this man is. As mawkish and shameless as the Clinton SOTUs were, they nevertheless projected a kind of authenticity. With Obama, the big-picture uplift seems unmoored from any personal connection — and he’s not good enough to make it real. Same with all those municipal name-checks.

When he does say anything firm and declarative — the pro-business stuff at home, the pro-freedom stuff abroad — it’s entirely detached from any policy, any action, so it plays to the Bob Herbert trust issue. And, when he moves from the gaseous and general to the specific, he becomes petty and and thin-skinned and unpresidential. And, unlike the national security feints and 101 Historical Allusions For Public Speakers stuff, the petulance is all too obviously real.