Skip the falsehoods, Mr. President, and give us a plan
I had high hopes for President Obama’s speech on the economy. But instead of going to Ohio on Thursday with a compelling plan for the future, the president gave Americans a falsehood wrapped in a fallacy.
The falsehood is that he has been serious about cutting government spending. The fallacy is that this election will be some sort of referendum that will break the logjam in Washington.
That is not so good. Meanwhile, over at MSNBC...
“I thought this, honestly, was one of the least successful speeches I’ve seen Barack Obama give in several years,” said Newsweek editor Jonathan Alter. “It was long winded. He had a good argument to make, and at the beginning of the speech he seemed to be making it in a fairly compelling way but then he lost the thread.”
Alter said he thought the speech was “way too long” and Obama had “lost the audience by the end.”
Daily Beast columnist and economist Zachary Karabell agreed with Alter, saying that the President opened the speech well, but quickly lost the plot.
When all seems dark, there is always one candle burning in the night for Obama:
President Obama sometimes forgets that an important speech does not have to be endless. On Thursday, appearing before supporters at a Cleveland community college, he spent 53 minutes on the stark contrast between his goals and the failed Bush-era policies that Mitt Romney is trying to resurrect. It’s hard to imagine that the speech, overgrown as it was with policy details, won the hearts of many independent voters yearning for a clear understanding of how much is at stake in November.
Wait, was that really the NY Times? Geez, are they re-thinking their re-thinking of their Hillary endorsement in 2008? Maybe! But they find a silver lining, or something:
The Republican recalcitrance on taxes has led to a Washington stalemate that the president referred to eight times in his speech, saying it can be broken only by the voters. But Mr. Obama’s re-election cannot, by itself, end the impasse. It is once his opponents’ free-market ideas are fully seen to be bankrupt that Congress will either change or begin acting in the country’s interest. Breaking the grip of these ideas truly is, as Mr. Obama said Thursday, “a make-or-break moment for America’s middle class.”
And it is there that Mr. Obama still has not made his case. Mr. Romney’s entire campaign rests on a foundation of short, utterly false sound bites. The stimulus failed. (Three million employed people beg to differ.) The auto bailout was a mistake. (Another million jobs.) Spending is out of control. (Spending growth is actually lower than under all modern Republican presidents [Hmm, and hmm again].) He says these kinds of things so often that millions of Americans believe them to be the truth.
It is hard to challenge these lies with a well-reasoned-but-overlong speech — just as, in an odd juxtaposition, Mr. Obama failed to make his case for his Afghanistan policy in a speech in May that was both too short and too shallow. The president has less than five months to find a way to make a vital message sink in.
That vital message amounts to insisting that the European economic model can work here. Good luck!