Missing Obama and Not Missing Him at All

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I’m feeling slightly guilty right now, because, after many similar and unsuccessful attempts in the past not to watch Obama speak, tonight I really did it.  Tonight I made the conscious decision to miss the State of the Union Address, and, adhering to that commitment, I am not watching the State of the Union Address. I understand several of the Supreme Court Justices so inappropriately humiliated during the last go-round have apparently made the same decision.

My guilt is only slight, because I know I’m not missing anything at all. Obama has given hundreds of speeches since becoming president. I have watched almost all of them, so I suppose I have earned the right to miss one from time to time — and get a much better night’s sleep than I would if I tuned in.

I also don’t feel the need to watch foolish republican congresspeople (John McCain, for one: no suprise there), who vowed they would join the kumbaya chorus with their rivals by sitting next to them in a show of “civility” or whatever they want to call it. If they have indeed followed through with that vow, they are showing us not their civility, but their support for their rivals’ policies; their lack of respect for the bloodbath of November 2, 2010; and a betrayal of the American people who made that bloodbath happen. In addition, they will be ignoring the fact that if the dems had held their majority in the House, they would be thumbing their noses in the faces of the right tonight, rather than squealing that the victorious right must reach across the aisle. Public displays by useful idiots are always pathetic — and dangerous — spectacles to behold.

Also pathetic, and worthy of missing, is yet another attempt by Obama to appear centrist, mechanically offering platitudes about the American economy, the American spirit and the American people — after spending last week kowtowing to the president of China and stating he “welcomes China’s rise.” This caps, of course, his last two years of implementing policies (we all know what they are), that the vast majority of Americans oppose, and that, if allowed to succeed, will destroy the miraculous experiment that is America.

The bottom line: I don’t need to watch this president pretend he is someone he’s not in a desperate attempt to salvage his own exalted position. I don’t need to watch him try to fool an American population he regards as inferior and ignorant and easily swayed with folksy phrases. His own incompetence and emotional scars aside, this man has made clear for years his disdain for this nation, her people and her history, and his overriding desire to “transform” her into an entity that does not begin to resemble what is blueprinted in our Constitution. Only a fool at this point would believe a sudden and embarrassingly transparent change in his message — or grant him a second term.

The Morning After: Watching an Angry President

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January 28, 2010 | Comments

Last night I felt we had just witnessed the spinning of a desperate man offering up a glorified campaign speech under the guise of a State of the Union Address. Today I awaken with a truer insight. What we actually witnessed last night was the pathetic tantrum of an angry President who does not understand – or simply does not want to understand — the basic tenets of the magnificent country he serves.

As someone on our local talk radio station said yesterday afternoon, this President needs to learn the difference between a leader and a ruler. I say that even if he does understand this, he has convinced himself that he was ushered into office with a landslide mandate (which he was not), an event, he seems to believe, that endows him with the title “ruler,” and, perhaps, “supreme being,” as well.

But last night’s disconnected, disjointed performance gave evidence that he realizes he is being regarded as mortal after all. Thus the root of his anger. He has forgotten, or simply chosen to ignore and disparage, the basic foundation of our nation – the separation of powers between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government – a separation that in every way offers us the ultimate safety net. Last night he lashed out at that safety net like a spoiled child, revealing to us once more how little he thinks of this nation, her system, and, yes, her people, who have had the audacity to stand in the way of his transforming America in his own image.

In one of the most inappropriate moments of all presidential history, he blasted the Supreme Court Justices seated as a group at his feet. With a nasty sneer, he berated their majority for daring to pass down a ruling that upholds our sacred right to free speech, a ruling with which he disagrees. He then urged the Congress to fight this ruling (by whatever means necessary, perhaps, Mr. President?). The members of the legislative branch in attendance who are in his camp responded with a rousing ovation.

But he berated the legislative branch, as well, scolding them for failing to push his agenda through swiftly and secretly. As a result, he found himself standing before the nation, unable to announce his long-coveted government takeover of the American health-care system. And now, it just won’t be that easy. The democratic supermajority has been squelched, he whined, thanks to the election of a man he did not name. His dominance of all three branches of the U.S. government has been destroyed, he said in so many words, and the republicans can now take the blame for standing in the way of progress.

Which led him to the target of his most ardent anger. He is angry at us, folks, the American people, and he didn’t even try to hide it. We dared to steal that supermajority – and, in turn, the unfettered power it offered him as a ruler. He bared his hostility toward us loudly and clearly, essentially obliterating any other message he tried to cloak in false sincerity and folksiness. And we will not forget that. I don’t think those Supreme Court Justices – particularly Justice Alito – are likely to forget either.

So I suggest the President consider, perhaps, getting himself to an anger-management class. Even more importantly, though, he needs to go back to school for a basic civics lesson. Time to refresh his understanding of the separation of powers, a concept he swore to honor when he pledged on his inauguration day to uphold that “flawed document” (his words), the Constitution of the United States.

If, as we hear, this President truly was a lecturer on constitutional law in his former life, this certainly makes me wonder what he taught his students in those classes. After hearing last night’s lecture to the American people, if I were the parent of one of those students, I’d be asking for my money back today.

Betsy Siino | Comments

Empty Rhetoric: Nothing Has Changed

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January 27, 2010 | Comments

The President’s first State of the Union just ended, and all I can say is that it was a disconnected mess. This confused President, rattled, perhaps, by the events of the last several months that culminated last week in Massachusetts, ping-ponged back and forth in his speech like his head ping-pongs back and forth to catch the messages transmitted by his twin teleprompters.

It began with his grand entrance, heralded with applause that was noticeably more muted than the applause that greeted him when last he addressed both Houses to discuss health care. He reached his exalted perch, and for the next hour or so we watched him bob back and forth between his teleprompters that, on my television at least, remained visible for the duration on both sides of the screen.

First, the President blamed George Bush, a tactic, though tired and worn, continued throughout his convoluted diatribe. Next stop: the stories of American doom and gloom always heartily embraced by the democratic party — the doom and gloom that for so many years this President has witnessed in this wasteland we call America. I have watched “the struggles,” he said, that are “the reason I ran for President.” But then he just as suddenly changed gears in a lame attempt to summon the spirit of Ronald Reagan (who, we learned tonight, was apparently a proponent of America’s nuclear disarmament), singing the praises of American optimism and extolling, without a hint of irony, the joys of accountability and transparency.

Sifting through all this ping-ponging was a challenge, punctuated as the speech was by the incessant standing Os (86 in all), Nancy Pelosi’s jack-in-box-like bouncing from her throne, and Joe Biden’s big, goofy, electric smile, reminding me of the current Walmart commercial, where the dad clown impales his foot on a unicorn (or Bozo, take your pick).

But once all was said and done, the message was clear: Nothing has changed. The President is staying the course, disappointing those who predicted so ardently that he would move to the center. As other, more realistic, pundits predicted, he instead double-downed on his agenda, taking no responsibility for our nation’s catastrophic debt, and reaffirming his devotion to cap and tax, the same ol’ health-care agenda, bigger government, the punishment of banks and Wall Street, an increase in government spending, and a vague, touchy-feely approach to national security (avoiding the issue of terrorists and Miranda rights altogether).

Perhaps the greatest shock for me began when he proclaimed, “We cut taxes for 95 percent of working Americans!” How? Really? But tax cuts are “unfair,” right? To the inevitable applause that followed, he smirked, “I thought I’d get some applause on that one.”

This segued into mention of the runaway success of the recovery act – “also known as the Stimulus Bill” – that apparently made all this possible. Really? In bread-line America? And all the stimulus-caused jobs he proceeded to list: Do those include the jobs created in congressional districts and zip codes that don’t exist? How does this dovetail with the unemployment rate? I’m so confused. (Where is Joe Wilson when we need him? Even Bill Clinton at the height of Monicagate was not so brazen).

When the speech ended, I felt kind of sick, kind of empty – as though I had just spent 70 minutes watching a desperate man, having been betrayed by his own self-importance, grasping for the essence of his identity. With squishy rhetoric and a decidedly unpresidential demeanor, a meandering flip-flopping speech, and hollow attempts to summon emotion, the President tried to speak of America’s strength and to praise her military, while at the same time laughing at those who would question the veracity of global warming and blasting the Supreme Court Justices seated before him for daring to rule in support of our Constitutional right to free speech.

But this man’s true essence came through when he spoke of health care, using direct excerpts from the countless speeches he has given on the subject since last summer. Staying the course on this one, he claimed to understand the frustration of the American people who are fed up with all the wheeling and dealing that has gone into the passage of a bill that two-thirds of Americans oppose. He revealed who he is, when he said that this process has “left most Americans saying, ‘but what’s in it for me?’”

And I say, you are wrong, Mr. President. Once again you have severely misread the citizens of this nation. Contrary to the people to whom you apparently try to appeal, we the people did not ask what’s in this bill for us, and we resent you’re implying that’s who we are. As we have made evident in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts in recent months, you and yours have us asking instead, “What are you doing to our country?” And, upon learning your intentions, we have said, “No!”

You don’t understand us, Mr. President. You don’t know who we are, and I fear you never will. As you stated clearly tonight, you are still pledging allegiance to “change we can believe in.” No thanks, Mr. President. We don’t want your brand of change. And we never will.

Betsy Siino | Comments