It gets harder as I age to force myself to watch SOTU’s or the Oscars. The presidential speeches have degenerated in our benighted age from their original constitutional purpose to a laundry list of ways the president intends to buy votes from special interests with the money I make. Why would I want to be reminded that I’m a part-time slave to a bunch of pretentious fools in Washington, D.C.? And Hollywood’s big night is a celebration of mediocrity in an art form I care less about every year. Given the choice of spending $20 on mindless spectacle and popcorn or staying home with a good book, the latter wins every time. I can make popcorn at home.
Reading around the internet, however, it looked like there might be enough in the speech for a blog post. So I watched the State of the Union speech on YouTube. The whole goddamn thing. Obama likes to talk about sacrifice. I sat through 69 minutes of his lies; that’s sacrifice enough.
If your mind wandered during this speech, you could always look at Joe Biden, sitting behind Obama, to see how you should be reacting. When Obama was serious, Biden put on a frowny face; in lighter moments Biden grinned like a jackass. How nice of Joe to serve as a kind of human cartoon of what we should think. After two centuries someone finally found something useful for vice-presidents to do.
We need to rise above fear, hesitation, and partisan politics–to give the government all the power it needs to solve all our problems.
I think Obama was saying in this speech “I am not Bill Clinton.” He’s not a moderate, not a triangulator; he won’t run to the middle after an electoral disaster. He is an ideologue who believes his collectivist agenda is moral and he is not backing off an inch. If you listened to the speech out of focus, as William F. Buckley, Jr.’s son must have done, you might have admired Obama’s integrity and purpose. Obama posed as a reasonable man of common sense who can laugh off difficulties, a man who just wants to get things done to help Americans.
You have to think in principle. You have to remember that Obama wants to expand state power over the individual. His is the path to dictatorship. If you can’t keep that in mind when he talks, then you’re doomed to be a welfare statist and to wonder why those unreasonable people on the right hate him so much. They must be racists!
Everything in this speech was designed to bamboozle people so that Obama-Reid-Pelosi can forge on with their socialist program, despite the fact that most Americans don’t want it. In a remarkably partisan speech, in which he attacked the Bush presidency and the Supreme Court, he also attacked partisanship. In a speech full of lies he attacked cynicism. He knows his ideological comrades in the media will publicize the noble, if hollow, statements, and ignore the partisan lies. A concrete-bound mentality, a pragmatist, would have no idea what to make of this speech.
If you think in principle, you understand that when Obama says “I don’t quit,” he means, “I don’t care what the people want, I will force socialism on them for their own good.” That is the meaning of Obama’s resolve. He has courage to stick to his values, yes. But what values this man has! He has the courage to run your life for you even if you’re too stupid to appreciate it.
We discovered in 2009 that many Americans can think in principle. They see that Obama is destroying our liberty. They have rocked Obama’s party in three elections in the last year, and they’re not done yet. After the Massachusetts election Obama made an odd statement that I interpret as another shot at Bill Clinton:
“I’d rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president,” he told ABC News’ Diane Sawyer.
The captain will go down with his ship. If he does it will be because enough Americans were not bamboozled by Obama’s rhetoric. Those who can think in principle and understand individual rights — the Tea Party Movement — would be the reason Obama failed, and that would make them the most important political movement since the civil rights era.
UPDATE: If you think I was tough on Obama’s speech, check out the reaction over at PJTV.
Andrew Wilson looks at Obama’s economic ignorance. It makes me wonder what Mises would have made of this speech. He’d probably have yawned and said, “I’ve heard it all before in Germany in the 1920’s and 30’s.”