He says we'll all have to give up some of our priorities even while outlining the most expansive domestic agenda in decades. He says he doesn't believe in bigger government, but vows to pump more money into banks, bail out homeowners, set up a fund to provide auto loans, and spend billions more on education and energy. He creates the illusion of being a sober and realistic leader who understands that we face some hard choices and tradeoffs while he declares that the way to reduce the growth of government spending on health care is to have the government spend more money on health care.Also: we're going to have "investors" return to the market, but "speculators" will be left in the cold. He'll "help millions of Americans who are struggling with declining home values", but not "that neighbor down the street who bought a house he could never hope to afford". Thumbs up for "small business", thumbs down to "Wall Street exectutives" and "CEOs", at least those who might want "fancy drapes" or to "disappear on a private jet." And two thumbs down for "corporations that ship our jobs overseas." (Yes, he used that tired trope twice.)
At Reason, Matt Welch notes amazing Barackrobatics:
"But I also know," President Barack Obama said last night, in his typically self-referential fashion, "that in a time of crisis, we cannot afford to govern out of anger, or yield to the politics of the moment. My job--our job--is to solve the problem. Our job is to govern with a sense of responsibility."Or: Inciting politically-convenient anger is wrong. Unless I'm doing it.
It was a pleasingly presidential sentiment for a subdued, not-quite-a-State-of-the-Union speech. Unfortunately for Obama--and us--it was also contradicted, and blatantly so, not four paragraphs prior, by a guy named Barack Obama. "This time," the president warned us the minute before, while giving that stern schoolmaster look of his, "CEOs won't be able to use taxpayer money to pad their paychecks or buy fancy drapes or disappear on a private jet. Those days are over!" Democrats leaped to their feet.
The Associated Press provides a pretty good fact check on the speech. They, like many of us, are pretty sick of the Obama claim (made ad nauseum) that his "plan will save or create 3.5 million jobs." Although their language is diplomatic:
[I]t's unlikely the nation will ever know how many jobs are saved as a result of the stimulus. While it's clear when jobs are abolished, there's no economic gauge that tracks job preservation. The estimates are based on economic assumptions of how many jobs would be lost without the stimulus.In short, Obama is bullshitting us, and it doesn't get any truer with repetition.
Can he fool enough people with this soaring rhetorical nonsense? I'm thinking: probably!