Conflicted and perhaps in self-denial, President Obama contradicts himself.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Jane Curtain and Dan Aykroyd on Point-Counterpoint on SNL

Last night was a real moment in American politics, what amounts to a cock fight, no sexual reference intended, between two candidates who hope to be the proverbial “Leader of the Free World.” More of a rumble than a debate, you have to ask yourself what, exactly, this kind of confrontation is intended to prove.

In any case, I was struck by one particular statement by President Obama, a politician who is as careful about his choice of words as any of his contemporaries. To make sure it isn’t taken out of context, I’ve included the two full paragraphs that included the words that concern me. Here they are, from the debate transcript that has been published by the Times Herald. Look at the words I’ve put in bold italics.

Now, does that mean you’re not struggling? Absolutely not. A lot of us are. And that’s why the plan that I’ve put forward for manufacturing and education, and reducing our deficit in a sensible way, using the savings from ending wars, to rebuild America and putting people back to work. Making sure that we are controlling our own energy, but not only the energy of today, but also the energy of the future. All of those things will make a difference, so the point is the commitments I’ve made, I’ve kept.

And those that I haven’t been able to keep, it’s not for lack of trying and we’re going to get it done in a second term. But, you should pay attention to this campaign, because Governor Romney has made some commitments as well. And I suspect he’ll keep those too. You know when members of the Republican Congress say, “We’re going to sign a no tax pledge, so that we don’t ask a dime for millionaires and billionaires to reduce our deficit so we can still invest in education, and helping kids go to college. He said, “Me too.”

Let me string those two adjacent sentence fragments into a single sentence:

“The commitments I’ve made, I’ve kept and those that I haven’t been able to keep, it’s not for a lack of trying.”

You don’t have to be a Mitt Romney fan to agree that President Obama’s first term has been characterized mostly by his failure to accomplish what he promised. If he were the Board of Directors of Federal Government Corp., he’d vote to fire himself. Instead, he encourages us to keep going, to trust that “we’re going to get it done in a second term.”

His problem is that he’s conflicted. Literally. To say that “the commitments I’ve made, I’ve kept” is in contraction to saying “and those that I haven’t been able to keep.” If you’ve kept your commitments, then there weren’t any you didn’t keep. Conversely, if you haven’t kept all your commitments, then you haven’t, period. Stop telling us otherwise. Just stop it.

One collateral point: I don’t care how hard President Obama has tried to do anything. You don’t get re-elected for trying to do anything. The only way you deserve to be re-elected is by actually getting something done. To make the excuse that, “it’s not for a lack of trying,” is pathetic.

(He blames President Bush and the condition of the economy when he first took office. He blames the Republicans in Congress, even though he had a Democrat majority during his first two years in the White House. He says he’s kept every commitment he’s made, but then instantly admits there were some he didn’t, but he tried, as if the effort, regardless of the outcome, somehow counts for something. If only he could have overcome forces beyond his control. You know, if I were a psychologist, I might think President Obama has difficulty acknowledging and accepting responsibility for his own failures.)

Why am I so focused on so few words? Because, they’re a clear example of the gobbledygook that passes for political discourse these days. Like many Americans, I’m over-whelmed, put off and profoundly disappointed by the level of crap – my apologies for the vulgarity – coming from our President, from both candidates for that matter, but from the President in particular.

The simple idea is that a partial truth, even an outright misrepresentation (aka, “lie”) said, with authority (or by Morgan Freeman), again and again and again, assumes the mantle of accuracy and common knowledge. It’s a con. Whether delivered by some cheap huckster or the President of the United States, it’s a con nonetheless – purposeful misstatements basted in the truth.

The President has not cut the deficit in half. Heck, he hasn’t even once confirmed a budget, let alone having a shot at balancing one. The President did not save “the auto industry.” Fiat saved Chrysler and Ford didn’t even take bailout money, nor did any foreign manufacturers with production facilities in the United States. From the commercial narrated by Morgan Freeman, “Four years later, our enemies have been brought to justice.” Really? And the list of exaggerated claims about his own successes, not to mention gross misunderstandings and misstatements about Mitt Romney’s proposals, goes on and on.

Enough already. The President has not honored most of the most important of the commitments he made when he ran for office four years ago. Forget that he even made those commitments in the first place, his record in office is poor. That’s the reason why voters need to say, “Thanks, President Obama. Nice try, but it’s time to give someone else a chance.”

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