Obama’s State of the Union Speech: Deception, Cliche, and Danger

by | Feb 15, 2013 | POLITICS

Obama is the new Baghdad Bob.

I didn’t watch Obama’s speech, but I have read the first half of the transcript and skimmed the rest. My summary is: deception, cliche, and danger.

The deception is in the first part, the only part that actually deals with the state of the nation. The section goes way beyond spin. It creates an alternate reality. Obama is the new Baghdad Bob, the spokesman for Saddam Hussein who vehemently denied that the invading Americans were having any success right up to and including the moment when our tanks came on-camera behind him.

To hear the President tell it, not only are we having good times economically, but you know what we’ve been doing fiscally? Cutting spending and cutting the deficit.

I don’t know how those statistics were ginned up, but I’d bet that it’s something like this: We wanted to increase the looting over the next four years from $4 trillion to $8 trillion. But due to mean-spirited, Republican partisanship, we’re only going to increase the looting from $4 trillion to $5.5 trillion (this year). That reduces the deficit $2.5 trillion.

Or: We expect that the love spread by our Administration, coupled with the Fed printing more and more paper dollars, will create such economic growth that our anticipated tax revenues will be $2.5 trillion more than our spending. Oh, and we’ve reclassified a portion of that spending as ‘investment,’ so it is expensed over the expected 50,000-year lifetime of those bridges highways, solar power installations, and embassy parties.

That’s my made-up back-room dialog, but he did say that Congress needs to pass a budget that replaces reckless cuts with smart savings and wise investments in our future. The only reckless cuts I see are those the government slashes into the veins and arteries of the nation’s private sector.

Some would say that Obama is just taking a page from his mentor, Saul Alinsky and is deliberately twisting things because it’s in the cause of the revolution (now called a transformative experience). But I don’t think so. I don’t think that either he or his handlers know the difference between truth and fantasy, objective and subjective. A successful deceiver has to at least partially believe his lies. He cannot accept the absolutism of reality. He must persuade himself that facts are flexible or open to interpretation. And Obama in this speech comes out with what I read as full-blown primacy of consciousness:

Let’s agree—let’s agree right here, right now, to keep the people’s government open and pay our bills on time [okay, so far but now comes . . . ] and always uphold the full faith and credit of the United States of America.

Let’s agree, right here, right now, that we will never go broke, no matter how much we spend. Facts? Facts be damned. One man’s fact is another man’s fiction. It’ll work if we agree right here, right now, that it’ll work.

One notable example of distortion was this about global warming: the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. That’s one way of looking at it. Here’s another: the global warming trend stopped 15 years ago. The temperatures recently are no higher than they were in 1997 and 1998.

Let’s take a stock market analogy. We’ve seen a Global Rising of all stock indices from the beginning of the record-keeping, about a century ago—until 2000. And the rise is a hell of a lot bigger than the teensy increase in global temperatures over the century: the Dow Jones Industrial Average has gone up about fifty-fold since 1928. But since 2000, the Dow has wobbled up and down in a range. The Dow today is nominally a little higher than in 1997. So, to make my analogy, suppose that the Dow were still at 1997 levels. (That’s probably true, if you adjust for inflation.) How would you feel, as an investor, if the President pushed the notion of Global Stock Rising by saying 12 of the highest years for the Dow on record have come in the last 15?—given that the Dow is no higher than 15 years ago. A stock-broker who made that pitch would face SEC action.

Then we get to the cliche-ridden section of the speech, the section that could have been given by any President. The President even hauled out that old chestnut: American must remain a beacon to all who seek freedom.

Of course, with Obama, freedom has a collectivist meaning. For instance, Every day we should ask ourselves three questions as a nation. As a nation? We should ask that? Here’s one of the questions the collective consciousness should ponder: How do we equip our people with the skills they need to get those jobs? Is that ever a herd mentality—with the government as shepherd. Back on planet earth, the meaning of that is: the government is going to grab more of your earnings to give money to moochers in the expectation that they will then vote Democratic. But it doesn’t sound quite like that if you phrase it as we have to take care of our people.

Speaking personally, I didn’t know I owned any people.

The speech is soaked in that we-talk. But it’s too boring to consider further. Let me turn to the frightening part of the speech.

We must all do our part to make sure our God-given rights are protected here at home. That includes one of the most fundamental rights of a democracy, the right to vote. When any American—no matter where they live or what there party—are [sic] denied that right because they can’t wait for five or six or seven hours just to cast their ballot, we are betraying our ideals. So, tonight, I’m announcing a nonpartisan commission to improve the voting experience in America. . . . We can fix this.

He wants to fix the vote—yes, I’m sure of that. And on what grounds would he tamper with this crucial defense against tyranny? Some people had to wait hours to vote. How many Americans had to wait on line five or six or seven hours? Twenty-two? Okay, what if it’s 22,000? or 220,000? The total vote was about 120 million. 220,000 is less than 2 in a thousand voters. To spare them the wait, we are to play fast and loose with the voting system? And we are not to allow IDs to be required to prevent vote fraud (since it’s overwhelmingly Democrats who engage in it)?

I hope there’s enough of the American spirit left to send the recommendations of this nonpartisan (not bipartisan) commission to a well-deserved oblivion.

President Obama has repeatedly shown his contempt for the Constitution. Now he is subtly launching what I take to be an assault upon voting. Fear for your freedom.

Dr. Binswanger, a longtime associate of Ayn Rand, is an professor of philosophy at the Objectivist Academic Center of the Ayn Rand Institute. He is the author of How We Know: Epistemology on an Objectivist Foundation and is the creator of The Ayn Rand Lexicon: Objectivism from A to Z. Dr. Binswanger blogs at HBLetter.com (HBL)--an email list for Objectivists for discussing philosophic and cultural issues. A free trial is available at: HBLetter.com.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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