Before I get into this, let me say a few things to help you understand my perspective. I’m a conservative. My posts certainly reflect that. But more than that I am an American and I deeply love this country. Because of that, I deeply despise politicians. There are few creatures on this planet that have done more to weaken my beloved nation. So when Obama first appeared on the scene it was rather refreshing. His newness and inexperience were appealing. I read his book and gained some admiration for him. Nice guy, lovely family, equally skeptical of Washington politics. Of course, there wasn’t a single issue where I agreed with him…not one. But I was willing to overlook that for the right message. This guy was talking about a new kind of politics. In my mind, enduring four years of bad policy was worth it if it meant cleaning up the sludge pit money grab of corruption that Washington had become. In my mind, we had to start somewhere and if that meant a far Left liberal I was open-minded enough to consider it.
Unfortunately, the campaign revealed more about Obama, namely the fact that he is just another politician. Along the way, I lost respect and admiration for him. Last night I was hoping to get that back. It didn’t happen.
He entered to U2 blasting away in the background which was great and, in all honesty, the best part of the speech. There were the typical gimmicks and anecdotes, the sad tales of people he met on the campaign trail, typical liberal tag lines, the laundry list of America’s problems. The first half of the speech was a waste of time. And then came the words of inspiration that he is so good at delivering. He began talking about his new kind of politics, about bringing change to Washington, about doing things differently, about new solutions, about tossing aside the failed policies of the past. Maybe this was where he regained my respect. Nope.
Instead, he launched into the same old attacks on his opponent. Don’t get me wrong, I’m okay with attacks. In fact, I’m okay with the two guys ripping each other apart. They’re politicians, they deserve it. But in light of a “new kind of politics”, I thought the attacks were excessive, misleading and unfair. And this after saying his opponent should be respected. A new kind of politics? Nope.
Then he went into the details of what he planned to do as President. There was absolutely nothing new. His solutions were typical democrat solutions, only applied to new 21st century problems. Higher taxes, more government spending. He flirted with something new when talking about personal responsibility, but that was fleeting. This was a democrat speech, canned in 1976 and recycled today on a grander, more elaborate stage. It was Jimmy Carter’s covered in cheez wiz.
I’ve got news for Obama. We have problems today, but they weren’t only created by Republicans. Both parties have been in power equally the past 40 years. So if we talk about failed policies we need to talk about both sides. Yes, he alluded to cutting failed government programs but he didn’t name a single one. Name one. Just one (and the military budget doesn’t count, the Dems always cut that one). Instead he ripped apart the GOP as if to say the Dems have the only answers. This is one example of how divisive this speech was. He also pitted workers vs. entrepreneurs, rich vs. poor, males vs. females. Aside from the eloquence and charisma, did he truly say anything that hasn’t been said a thousand times before? Nope.
A few specifics that stick out: First, he said he would debate John McCain and welcome the topic of foreign policy. So why hasn’t he? McCain has repeatedly offered to debate, but Obama has refused. A new kind of politics? Also, his promise to cut taxes for 95% of Americans. I’m sorry, I’m calling the Senator out on this one. Health care alone will require MASSIVE tax increases. In fairness, Obama may not realize this. He may not “get it” as he said about McCain. Regardless, there is no way…no way he can cut taxes like that and still do the things he promises to do. And then there was the attack on McCain, “if you don’t have a record to run on you paint your opponent as someone to run from”. Hmm. How ironic, coming from someone who’s only been a Senator for a few short years.
So where did he fall short? If you want all of America behind you, then it takes honesty, sometimes brutal honesty. He should have ripped into his party like he ripped into the GOP. Yes, the GOP has screwed things up, but so have the Dems. Congress shares just as much blame as the President if not more, and GOP has only controlled Congress for 12 of the past 40 years. So a new kind of politics would require changing Capitol Hill as well as the White House. Vote them ALL out! If Obama had said that, I would have come out of my chair and his poll numbers would be in the stratosphere.
It also requires new ideas, not just the same solutions to new problems. Talk about reforming the tax code, not using the same tax and spend methods that have, yes, failed in the past. Talk about a Constitutional amendment for the line item veto. Talk about cutting the government, and give specifics. Talk about shifting power from the federal to the local level where the people have more access to their leaders. These are fresh ideas. This is change.
It also requires telling people the whole truth. Obama filled our heads with visions of sugar plums, but he didn’t tell us the down side. He didn’t mention doubling the capital gains tax. He didn’t mention increasing payroll taxes. He didn’t mention the windfall profits tax. He left out quite a bit and that simply looks dishonest. Just tell us, Senator. We can take it. If Washington is going to change, then we understand there will be some tough parts. Not telling us about these looks deceptive. It looks like politics as usual.
And he needs to avoid the contradictory talk. Is America a land of opportunity where someone from impoverished beginnings can rise to success like Barack, Michelle and Biden? Or is it the land of “empty promises” where the poor and unprivileged don’t stand a chance? It can’t be both. They succeeded without government help, by their own bootstraps, yet Obama criticized that as a failed Republican value. So which is it?
All in all, I was under-whelmed. I appreciated the historical context, but I honestly think Dr. King’s legacy was cheapened a little. Seriously, would Dr. King have rock stars performing before his speech? Would he have fireworks and balloons and confetti? Would he have created a stage that mirrored a Greek temple? Of course not. Obama fell short in a big way. He dazzled democrats and maybe some independents, but he left out a lot of people.
Obama is not the second coming of Dr. King. He’s more like the second coming of Jimmy Carter. And if there is something America can’t afford, it’s another four years of that.