A Voice in the Wilderness In Defense of "Mere Conservatism"

29Jan/10Off

A Speech To Remember To Forget

Obama before Congressby: R.J. Moeller

President Barack Obama gave his first (of no more than 4) State Of The Union address Wednesday evening.  Primarily because he has given more than 100 speeches in only one year, fewer people watched The One give his first SOTU than did watch the much-maligned George W. Bush give his last.  Obama's speech was nearly 90 minutes, more than 7,000 words long, and full of surprises.

The biggest surprise had to be that the president sounded largely committed to forging ahead with policy initiatives such as Cap-and-Trade and health care reform that have sparked the bi-partisan back-lashes we've seen since the town hall meetings of August 2009.

I've read and re-read the transcript of the SOTU a few times now, and here are some of my thoughts on a lack-luster performance.

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After dispensing with the customary pleasantries, the first thing that stood out to me was this sentence here:

It's tempting to look back on these moments and assume that our progress was inevitable -- that America was always destined to succeed...And despite all our divisions and disagreements; our hesitations and our fears; America prevailed because we chose to move forward as one nation, as one people.

'Tis true, Mr. President, that many Americans take their freedom and prosperity for granted.  In fact, I'd say that this ingratitude and total lack of awareness is one of the most glaring shortcomings of our modern society (and education system).  But what he, and most progressive-Left politicians, almost never want to accept, let alone proclaim, is that the two primary causes of our success as a nation have been military conquests and free market economics.  (Not welfare entitlements or same-sex marriage ballot initiatives.)

If you are serious about teaching the history of this nation, you must include the good with the bad.  It hasn't been all racism and Jim Crowe.  It hasn't been all government intervention saving the poor, huddling masses from the exploits of monopolistic fat-cats.  It hasn't been a secular, "Get your Church away from my State", mentality that gave the American people their moral clarity and fortitude to win wars and overcome domestic tragedies.

This is a Judeo-Christian, free market, liberty-loving, hard-working, government-mistrusting nation.  This is a God-Family-Country (and in that order) nation.  This is a Center-Right nation.  That doesn't mean atheistic or liberal or progressive-Left citizens are less patriotic.  It simply means that the ideology that informs their view of the world hasn't been emblematic of our story.  We've succeeded where others have failed because of our ideas, ideals, and values.  I believe Dennis Prager explains those values best:

Moving on, the president made what I presume was an unintended critique of high tax rates:

This recession has also compounded the burdens that America's families have been dealing with for decades -- the burden of working harder and longer for less; of being unable to save enough to retire or help kids with college.

So what is the solution to this problem, Mr. President?  Is it really more government intervention?  Isn't the reason people pay so much of their income to their state and federal governments that their state and federal governments tax them so much?  You're solutions all involve more government intervention, which all require more tax dollars to pay for them, which means everyone has to work more than four months into the calendar year to afford those taxes.

Oh, and taxes impact everyone, not just those "rich" people who make $250,000...I mean, $200,000...I mean "whatever arbitrary number Axelrod or Gibbs blurts out in staff meeting that morning".

If Wal-Mart gets taxed because Barbara Boxer or Barney Frank or Charlie Rangel has it in for them, Wal-Mart's prices go up and their customers make up the difference.  This is how business works.  I know it was tough to learn about the inner-workings of a business when the closest you've ever been to one is standing outside with a bull-horn demanding free stuff for the community you were currently organizing, but this is how the rest of us "little people" you insist you are helping live.

Continuing with the speech, Obama then added:

For these Americans and so many others, change has not come fast enough. Some are frustrated; some are angry. They don't understand why it seems like bad behavior on Wall Street is rewarded but hard work on Main Street isn't; or why Washington has been unable or unwilling to solve any of our problems. They are tired of the partisanship and the shouting and the pettiness. They know we can't afford it. Not now.

This entire paragraph is, how shall I say - claptrap.  The "change" we need (and want) is away from reckless spending, higher taxes, and looming inflation...and towards fiscal responsibility, political accountability, and legislative transparency.MonopolyMan4_300

Retirement Jokes Image - Man Wearing a BarrelAnyone want to make the case that any of those three increased this past year?

I'd also like to take this moment to officially declare the "Wall Street to Main Street" metaphor the most trite, over-used, brain-dead phrase in the English language.  Both sides of the political aisle are guilty of indulging in its usage.  Stop.  Please. Seriously.  We get it.  Some people look and live like the Monopoly guy, monocle and all, while others are hobos with nothing to wear for clothes but a barrel with two straps holding it in place.

Also, the call to stop with all the "partisanship" from the most partisan, polarizing figure in the country rings deaf on any sane ear.  His administration has been defiant in their implementation of Chicago-style intimidation tactics.  The leaders in both houses of congress have blocked GOP participation in any of the meetings about health care reform.  Democrats have had overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate all year and could have done whatever they wanted without a single Republican.

Scott Brown didn't win Barney Frank's district in Massachusetts because voters wanted to send a message to Republicans that they better start making nice with President Obama.  Spare me.  Elections have consequences, remember?

The GOP certainly doesn't have to say "no" to everything Democrats want to do.  Just all the bad ideas.

When I ran for president, I promised I wouldn't just do what was popular -- I would do what was necessary. And if we had allowed the meltdown of the financial system, unemployment might be double what it is today. More businesses would certainly have closed. More homes would have surely been lost.

First off, President Bush was the one to sign TARP in to law.  There is still disagreement, even among conservatives, as to whether or not TARP was a good thing, but everyone knows Bush deserves the credit or blame for it.  What President Obama did was allocate another nearly $800 billion for what became known as the Stimulus Package.  This is an entirely different animal altogether.

The Stimulus was Keynesian Economics at its "finest." Obama believes that the government can spend its way out of a recession.  Math and numbers and history all have something to say about that, but where as TARP funds are almost all required to be paid back (as many already have been...with interest), the Stimulus funds will never be recouped by the financier of them (see: you, the taxpayer).

The White House continues to make its case that it saved 2 million (or was it 3 million) jobs and that things would have been worse had Obama not acted and saved the economy.  How do you prove a job was saved?  What is the standard used to decide that?  How do we trust an administration that got caught manipulating the figures of jobs created by the Stimulus?

The plan that has made all of this possible, from the tax cuts to the jobs, is the Recovery Act. That's right -- the Recovery Act, also known as the Stimulus Bill. Economists on the left and the right say that this bill has helped save jobs and avert disaster. But you don't have to take their word for it.

Translation: I don't have any sources (outside of New York Times columnists) to corroborate my claim that everyone thinks the Stimulus was a smashing success...so just trust me on this one, guys.

That is why jobs must be our number one focus in 2010, and that is why I am calling for a new jobs bill tonight.  Now, the true engine of job creation in this country will always be America's businesses. But government can create the conditions necessary for businesses to expand and hire more workers.

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On second thought, I take that back.  The conditions the government can create to help businesses flourish are ones in which they are nowhere to be found.  Protect us abroad.  Enforce the laws at home.  Keep out of things you don't understand and have no Constitutional authority to involve yourself with.

From the day I took office, I have been told that addressing our larger challenges is too ambitious -- that such efforts would be too contentious, that our political system is too gridlocked, and that we should just put things on hold for awhile.  For those who make these claims, I have one simple question: How long should we wait? How long should America put its future on hold?

You spent an entire year essentially on one issue (health care).  No one wanted it, and people showed up to vote in liberal states to prove it to you.

How long are you going to wait to start cutting out the waste and fraud you said could pay for your ambitious plans?  How long until REAL spending freezes are enacted?  How long did it take you to make a decision on sending troops to Afghanistan?  How long are the lines at the airport going to have to get before we start focusing the profiling done on Muslim males between the ages of 18-35, and not Grandma Mema?

After droning on about other various issues, the president finally addressed his disastrous attempts to bring socialized medicine to this country.

This is a complex issue, and the longer it was debated, the more skeptical people became. I take my share of the blame for not explaining it more clearly to the American people. And I know that with all the lobbying and horse-trading, this process left most Americans wondering "what's in it for me?"

So you see, the real reason Obamacare isn't the law of the land right now is that you dolts didn't understand his 100+ speeches explaining health care reform.  Plus those lobbyists (a.k.a. people who came out for town hall meetings and Tea Party rallies) obstructed the majestic view of government-run health care for the rest of us.

Obama takes no responsibility for proposing something no one wanted or wants, rather, he feels bad he wasn't seen and heard more.  Yeesh!

Rather than fight the same tired battles that have dominated Washington for decades, it's time to try something new. To do that, we have to recognize that we face more than a deficit of dollars right now. We face a deficit of trust -- deep and corrosive doubts about how Washington works that have been growing for years. To close that credibility gap we must take action on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue to end the outsized influence of lobbyists; to do our work openly; and to give our people the government they deserve.

It's more than a "credibility gap", Mr. President.  We absolutely need the government for certain, specific duties to be discharged.  (See: Constitution).  You promised a "new kind of politics" during your 2008 campaign.  Where is any of that?  Why didn't you make Pelosi and Reid put ALL of the health care debates on C-SPAN?  Why didn't you see to it that bills be placed on-line for at least 5 days before being voted on so the public can scour them?

Excuse me if I don't believe that anything is going to actually change.  I hope and pray it does, but enough talk.  Do it.  Change things.  How can we trust our government with big things when they can't even follow through on these little promises.

To quote someone both of us respect, Mr. President:

His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. (Matthew 25:23)

There were parts that I appreciated in the SOTU Address.  I give President Obama all the credit in the world for even just suggesting that nuclear power and drilling at home are legitimate options to help bring costs of energy down.

I enjoyed hearing a liberal Democrat talk about American values being great, but as I said earlier, the key questions are "What are those values?" and "Where did they come from?"  He was spot-on in identifying the cyncicism and angst people have towards government, but he is incapable of accepting the notion that people don't just dislike the pony-tails Big Sister has given them; they want the federal government out of their hair altogether.

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There's much more that could, and perhaps, should, be said about the so-so speech President Obama gave Wednesday evening, but I'll leave it at this for now. Go read George Will or Peggy Noonan or Jonah Goldberg for more commentary.

I'd love to hear your reflections and thoughts, so please join in the conversation by clicking on the "Comments" link below.

It's going to be a fun year, so get informed and get involved.

Comments (23) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Nice. Especially like “The conditions the government can create to help businesses flourish are ones in which they are nowhere to be found.”

  2. Very good analysis and reply. Unfortunately, I KNOW Obama and the Dems don’t have it in them to essentially turn back the clock, and frankly, I am not convinced that for all the rhetoric, the Repubs will do much either.
    New platform – 25% across the board spending cuts, defund whole departments starting with Edu and EPA. Term limits. Tax cuts and a flat tax. Dismantle Homeland Security and correct all of the mistakes – nice idea to begin with, but it is now a fiasco. I could go on…

  3. Nice Post.

    Careful. Obama policy is far more deadly than just economics. Remember that his foreign behavior, his world perception and his socialist views can weaken a nation from within. With enemies bent on terrorizing and destroying us…Obama is more than just a misguided fool..

    Others have attempted to deify him.. A Nobel Prize for 11 days in office? What is his $600MM raised for his election, hidden from the real source mean?

  4. Was referred here by another post I was reading, and I’m so glad I got to read this wonderful post. I agree with you, Allen Goldberg, that we need to be very careful. Try reading ICON by B&B Thoene. Fiction, with a great deal of truth. Bottom line now, though, thank you for sharing your smarts for simple folks like me so I can understand why Obama’s words make no sense to me. How Obama got into office I will never know, I imagine. It feels like our country is trying to fly to the moon on cotton candy that is quickly evaporating…

  5. I too found you blog linked elsewhere and think you did an excellent job breaking down the speech. I agree it was way too long, and not nearly enough substance. It sounded like he was living in a world where the events of the past 12 months had never happened. He’s ignoring the will of the people, and like Newt Gingrich likes to point out, you will never ultimately succeed as a leader if you are not in-tune with the flow of history and will of the American people. Obama confused his election with a mandate to change everything.

    Keep up the great analysis. I’ll be back from time to time and will try to send some traffic your way.

  6. Wow, I’m shocked you didn’t like the speech RJ. I’ve been reading your stuff since the summer and the one consistent theme is that you don’t agree with anything the president does. He gave some promises to cut taxes, get nuclear power up and running, and to clean up waste/fraud in Washington. Those are all conservative issues. Obama has done the best job he can with what he had to work with, and so what if he spent most of his time going after health care. It should be a right that everyone has it, so that is worth fighting for.

    I think you’re dead wrong about Obama and his speech. He will be a great president and will serve 8 years and fix a lot of what’s wrong in this country.

  7. Thanks for the great comments so far. Glad to hear some people enjoyed what I had to say about the speech. I really don’t hate Obama, LIS, I simply disagree with his worldview and the practical application of it thus far. He’s not a bad guy, just the wrong guy.

    Shari- Nice cotton candy analogy. I agree the act is wearing thin. Get people out to vote in your state’s primaries and make sure to participate in any future town hall meetings or Tea Party rallies or anything of the sort.

    Allen- I agree Obama’s wrong about much more than economics, but economics is the thing that liberal Democrats have used to rope huge segments of the population in with. It is vitally important that we expose these liberal economic fallacies. You’re obviously a well-informed reader and I appreciate you stopping in here at AVITW. Bookmark us!

    Jim- All of those policy initiatives sound great. Now it’s getting them implemented by voting the right people in and putting the right amount of pressure on them. Conservatives and libertarians can be activists too, and we can be activists without being offensive or rude or destructive. I look forward to this year’s political narrative. 2009 was a wild ride!

    Please tell your friends about this site.

  8. Liberal in Seattle
    I think you’re dead wrong about Obama and his speech. He will be a great president and will serve 8 years and fix a lot of what’s wrong in this country.

    I think it is you who is in error. In one year Obama’s and his hitmen( and women)
    have weakened this country beyond recognition. We will be ruined if the people of this country are stupid enough to re-elect him to a second term. There was
    nothing to like in this speech. I live in Central Oregon and have yet to find one person who had anything good to say about SOTUS speech Obama gave. This was, by far the worst one I have listened to. The tax cuts, nuclear power and such will be GREAT if he can get them done. He needs to get off the back of the coal industry and let us start drilling for our own rersources but the environazis will never let most of the above happen. Obama said hardly a thing about the
    horros of his foreign policies and how the democrtas have weakened our natiional security. I suppose that is all Bush’s fault too? NO president has done what Obama has done, and done much of it behind closed doors(health care) just one item. I could keep writing but those of us here know what I am talkning about.

    RJM,
    insightful and to the point as usual. Will be cross posted to my blog. Excellent anaysis, spot on all the way.

  9. I agree with your analysis. Whenever I listen to this manchild I just think of him in front of a room full of welfare recipients in the lobby of the projects. He’s ten times more educated and eloquent than his audience and he just knows better. His view of the world is the picture painted by his liberal profs, his angry black minister, his bitching welfare recips and his lovely wife with that big chip on her shoulder. His lobby full of welfare people, his profs and his like minded progressives have blown this mans ego into the stratosphere. He simply can’t relate to the patriotic workaday American that is the common man. He will find out, maybe, that the two audiences are very different and the second audience is only now finding out that this man sounds so good but he’s not really one of us. I think the biggest thing we can blame Bush for is that he helped elect this big Zero.

  10. An excellent analysis. It should be required reading for all Americans. It is certainly essential reading if one has doubts about President Obama. Thank you.

  11. What Obama has done in this speech is simply reflect the anger and frustration of the people, without giving any solutions. Merely reflecting does not solve the problems and only arouses emotion. Typical of liberals. It’s all like cobwebs.

  12. My favorite line was about Obama’s experience in business being limited to standing outside with a bullhorn demanding free stuff. There are people who trust the free market, with all its warts, and then there are those who simply don’t have any gut feeling for what it is. They think it’s a teat.

  13. Excellent commentary! Perhaps obama should abandon politics and stick to something innocuous, like paid motivational speaking, but I forgot: he doesn’t have any business sense.

  14. 1. Everyone is saying “I don’t want socialized medicine.” However, unless that person pays for every doctor and hospital visit and every prescription drug they purchase, in total and out of their pocket, then they are already part of socialized medicine. I am on medicare and it isn’t much different from private insurance. If the govt stripped out the Advantage Plan portion of medicare and forced universal subscription, it would save 1/4 to 1/2 of the current insurance costs. I suggest the govt mandate that 1/2 of the employer portion that is saved be added to the employee’s salary. That would put up to $800.00 a month more money in the pockets of each employee with family insurance. Additionally that $800.00 employee savings and the employer’s $400.00 savings would be added to the income tax base. If an employee wanted more bells and whistles, they could buy a supplemental insurance policy. Our current (most expense health care in the world) ranks us 17th on the world healthy list. What are we currently getting for our money?

    2. We need to add a balanced budget amendment to the constitution. That’s the only way we will ever get the budget under control.

    3. Govt does have a place in our lives and that is in the regulation dept. (The balanced budget amendment is also a form of regulation.) You’d have to have the Momento guy’s problem to forget what lax regulation did to our economy. “Boys will be boys” and men will also be boys – only they become smarter and much better at it.

    4. As the financing of the current national debt matures and must be refinanced, we need to refinance the debt to pay off both principal and interest, not just interest. During WWII the govt borrowed money from the public for the war effort, but that debt repaid both principle and interest. Who the H… let them get away with interest only payments anyway? Sometimes I think all our representatives in Washington must have “666″ branded on their foreheads.

  15. Kay,
    You are dreaming. Medicare is a failure.
    The big, and I mean big, difference between Medicare and private insurance is that Medicare, because it is a government program, can continue to operate even after it is broke. Private insurance charges rates based on having enough assets to meet its future obligations. Medicare just takes money in and pays it out. If it takes in more money than it pays out, the government spends it in return for an IOU. Medicare is ~$38 trillion in the red. The dirty little secret is that the reason why healthcare must be reformed is BECAUSE Medicare is broke.
    Expanding Medicare is not a dream, but a nightmare.

  16. Love to see so many comments under a well-written piece like this one most certainly is. We need to engage the ideas and policies we hear from our elected leaders, regardless the party they hail from. An informed citizenry is the politician’s biggest fear.

    The speech Obama gave was un-inspiring and un-inspired. He’ll learn come this November how wrong he is in gauging the American peoples’ pulse.

  17. Thank you for this clear analysis. I couldn’t bring myself to watch the entire speech. I wish more conservatives would bring up the one thing that is not being used to get the economy going- lowering tax rates for all employees and all employers. The President and Congress know it would work, but they just won’t do it. Makes one wonder, is this intentional? Or are they so power hungry that they just can’t bring themselves to do it?
    I have never read a blog before- yours is the first and I have already bookmarked you. Please keep writing!

  18. Jeff, Medicare is underfunded because of the Advantage Care (which I advocate removing) and a prescription drug benefit (added by Bush II). The 38 trillion Medicare & Medicaid deficit you mentioned takes into account the funding of all future obligations. Social Security has the same future deficit problem. Medicare now insures all the old people: the ones that REALLY spend all the money on doctors, drugs, hospital stays, etc. Obama wanted to extend Medicare coverage to people aged 55. Why do you think the insurance lobbyists balked on that? (Because that coverage would be much less expensive that private insurance coverage).

    However, if you don’t like the Medicare template, use the Canadian Health Care or British Health Care as a template and check out their costs. Those systems are really much better than we are lead to believe.

    Here are some other ideas:
    5. Term limits for the US Senate and House of Representatives to help mitigate the lobbyist backed entrenchments there.

    6. Save tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars out of the Federal Budget on the building of fences and border security by making the following a felony punishable by 5 years in prison and $250,000 fine (the same punishment prescribed for copying a DVD):
    a. Anyone who hires an illegal alien
    b. Anyone who rents to an illegal alien

    Institute that law and all the illegal aliens will go home.

  19. Another observation: Obama is privatizing the space program. That will just make US Space Exploration more expensive by creating another operational layer which will scoop off its profits as well.

  20. Kay,

    Medicare is going bankrupt and will continue to get worse because there is more money going out than they take in. Congress doesn’t seem to understand this… You cannot blame Medicare’s shortfall on the just the RX plan and Advantage Care! It is a complicated system that is completely out of control and removing these two entitlements would not bring it back into balance. Also, the deficit in Medicare is only going to get worse over the next several years, with more baby boomers retiring. When this entitlement was put in place in the 30′s, it was projected to cost much LESS than it really does cost. This is what happens when the government creates entitlement programs. They are based on best case scenario models, which they use to get programs approved. Tell me one government program that has come in at or under budget.

    Also, there is no such thing as Medicare being “much less expensive” than private insurance. ONE way the government is able to charge Medicare insureds less, is they pay the Drs. who accept Medicare patients LESS than if those Drs. were treating a privately insured patient. This lower Medicare reimbursement rate is causing some very good Drs. and some excellent facilities (Mayo Clinic is one) to no longer accept Medicare patients. They are going broke and they cannot stay in business if they continually run in the RED. Note, this does not apply to the US Government!!

    I do agree with you that we need a balanced budget amendment to the US Constitution. They should have passed this a long time ago. We would be in a completely different economic situation now. I also agree that Gov’t should regulate. But even with regulations in place, there is no perfect system that will take all risk out of a capitalistic economy. Look at all of the sub-prime lending and red flags that led to the current housing and foreclosure problems. For evidence of this, see today’s article:
    http://emac.blogs.foxbusiness.com/2010/02/02/housing-red-flags-ignored/?test=latestnews

    We cannot rely on the Gov’t to think for us, and make all decisions that are in our best interests. We should be able to rely on our Constitution to guarantee our freedoms though. Unfortunately, these freedoms are being taken for granted and misunderstood more and more as people look to the Gov’t to solve every problem.

    As for private business creating another operational layer, such as in the area of space exploration, I think you have that backwards. It is GOVERNMENT THAT CREATES ANOTHER LAYER. It is called bureaucracy. In fact, in today’s Wall Street Journal, “Uncle Sam Wants You”, it states that the Federal Government will employ 2.148 million employees in 2010, the largest number since 1992. This growth is NOT in the US Military. It is in the Federal Agencies- ie – bureaucracies. As today’s WSJ article states, “Mr. Obama blames the government’s all time high deficits and other budget predicaments on his predecessor, but no one forced him to hire all these new public employees. Presumably, these tens of thousands of new workers are needed to hand out stimulus grants, or monitor this or that new program, or investigate private business.”

    Pres. Obama’s proposed 2010 budget has Gov’t outlays of $3.72 trillion. Rather than accusing big business of having a lust for power, I think we can see where the real lust for power and control of individuals lies- within the current administration, Congress included! They are contributing to the class warfare mentality that only hurts the economy and causes people to believe in the lie that business is out to get them, rich people are selfish, and only Government is there to look out for them. This is ludicrous. In the 1930′s, it was Roosevelt’s inconsistent hostility towards business and capital, his increase in corporate tax rates, his support of Unions and his immense public spending programs that caused the Depression to last as long as it did. Even John Maynard Keynes conceded: ” It is a mistake to think businessmen are more immoral than politicians.”

    Our nation needs to get back to promoting individual responsibility and opportunity within the framework of our Constitution.

  21. Excellent article. I understand total topic very meaningfully explain for patients but give more details about that point of issue. Thanks

  22. People all over the world receive the home loans from various banks, just because that’s comfortable.

  23. That’s good that we are able to get such pretty things here and it opens completely new chances for us.

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