We’ve all heard of the little engine that could, and how he chugged and chugged and chugged to pull the train up the mountain. As the little engine chugged up the mountain he kept saying “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.” While this may be cute for a little toy train that kids play with, the clichés that President Obama keeps putting forth as policy can’t transform the American economy, restore the middle class or ensure that America returns to her place of prominence in the world. So, if I had to come up with a catchy phrase like “the little engine that could” to describe the Obama Presidency, I would probably call it “the little clichés that couldn’t.” It doesn’t matter how many times the President claims “I think I can,” the proof is in the pudding that his policies cannot put America back on track.
The President’s speech to the Democratic National Convention last evening was, in effect, a watered down repeat of his past three State of the Union addresses. It was, in the words of William Shakespeare, “much sound and fury signifying nothing.” The President again created an army of straw men that he set out to systematically demolish as to portray himself as the victor. By this I mean that the President painted such a patently absurd portrait of his political opposition that it defies reality and belief, all for the purpose of making him look more serious and sensible. Take, for example, the President’s past assertion that his Republican adversaries adhere to “the absolutism of the free market, an ideology of no taxes, no regulation and no safety net.” This makes Republicans in general, and conservatives in particular, look heartless, aloof and uncaring. The problem with the entirety of the statement is that it is entirely untrue.
No Republican has proposed that we abolish the Federal government; instead, we have called for limited government that provides maximum economic and individual freedom to the American people. In fact, such was the view of America’s founders: that we should create a society of private character and consensus values that is capable of self-government so that government might be limited. There is nothing extreme about this position. Nevertheless, when President Obama was proposing one of the largest tax hikes in American history, he resorted to rhetoric like that cited above to try and paint Republicans as the radicals, so that his radical proposal didn’t seem so radical after all. It is a brilliant rhetorical tactic used to win the public debate, but it is nothing short of blatant dishonesty and pure political pontification.
This same cynical tactic is what the President resorted to during his speech at the DNC last evening. He resorted to petty and untrue accusations to try and distract from his real record. His comments were well-delivered and his cadence was, as always, perfect; however, his facts were at best “fuzzy” and in reality completely unreal. The reason Mr. Obama resorted to distractions and the erecting of straw man arguments to aid his reelection chances is that he truly has nothing real to run on. When you preside over the worst economic recovery in a generation, the single largest explosion of the Federal debt in American history and the systematic disassembling of America’s economy and cultural consensus, you can’t tell people the truth.
I believe that the President has run his course in terms of being able to convince Americans that he is going to bring about positive change. That’s not to say that the President hasn’t brought change to America, but it looks increasingly like the kind of change most Americans wish we could change back. This sentiment was underscored today with the release of a jobs report that indicates that the economy remains stalled with an “official” unemployment rate that remains over 8% for the 43rd straight month, and an “unofficial” unemployment figure hovering near 15%. All of this on top of the first modern collapse of the median household income at a time of rising costs of living.
It looks like “the little clichés that couldn’t” can’t convince the American people that this is the change they were hoping for.