In the wake of President Obama’s Ohio speech on Thursday the mainstream media figured out, or at least were willing to express, what conservatives have long known: President Obama is a bore, and his second-term agenda is his first term agenda. The Mitt Romney campaign gleefully circulated clips of reviews by liberal pundits savaging the speech. If the New York Times’ Andrew Rosenthal panned the speech, you know it bombed. (“[W]ill someone edit the president’s speeches? They’re nearly Castro-length.”)
One reason why Obama’s speech was so poorly received by all but the Kool Aid-intoxicated set was that the man who once thrilled and wowed the liberal elites is no longer electrifying. Heck, he’s not even interesting.
As Matthew Continetti of the Washington Free Beacon writes: “Obama’s overly long, repetitive, and by turns self-pitying and self-congratulatory address was so soaked through with nostalgia that MSNBC should have broadcast it in sepia tones.” He’s become the relative at the family gathering whom you do your best to avoid, lest you be forced to endure his endless prattle that leaves you both drained and annoyed that you let yourself get waylaid by the family bore.
Then there is the substance of what he is saying. Democratic operatives and media handmaidens who have urged the president to ignore his three-plus years as president and focus on the future learned the future is as dreary as the last three-plus years. His vision is identical to the caricature of modern liberalism that conservatives have sketched out: “Democrats want to control or influence an ever-larger slice of our nation’s commerce. They want to oversee, for instance, the insurance companies, drug producers, hospitals, banks, coal miners, oil producers, pipeline operators and auto suppliers. By way of ramped-up regulation, subsidies and energized litigators, they seek to impose their priorities on businesses large and small – their rapture over green energy, their deference to organized labor, their indifference to profits.” Yup, that’s about it.
There is not an innovative idea within a mile of this guy. No debt plan and an itsy-bitsy more in taxes. (Does he actually imagine that the Buffett tax will pay for his burgeoning welfare state? Well, yes.) But the key to economic nirvana — are you sitting down? — is the same laundry list he’s been pushing in most every speech (and most of which was tried in Stimulus 1, which he essentially ignored in his speech so as not to remind us this has all been tried). Hire teachers, build bridges, etc. No wonder Bill Clinton, master of the “Third Wave” of centrist politics, can’t contain himself these days.
Mickey Kaus recapped what is obvious to most observers about Stimulus 1 and would certainly impair the effectiveness of Stimulus 2:
1) The “shovel ready” jobs weren’t shovel ready (as Obama himself has admitted), leading to a delay in the stimulating effect;
2) The money to save the jobs of “firemen … and policemen … and … teachers” did not just go to firefighters and policemen and teachers. It also went to non-essential bureaucrats (e.g., headquarters paper shufflers, “diversity coordinators”);
3) The money bailed out states that were paying unsustainable pensions and benefits, enabling them to keep paying those benefits, so that when the federal subsidy ran out the states couldn’t afford to keep workers on the payroll and laid them off.
If this is Obama’s best argument — let me repeat, what didn’t work in the last three years — he should stop giving major speeches. It won’t help to advertise this.