The Audacity of Hype

So there I was, marking the last of a few papers I had picked up last night when I remembered between puffs on my VERY cheap cigar that President Obama’s third State of the Union Address was coming on. So, I turned the television on and was lucky enough to tune in just as Obama was going to be announced.

Now, as a Canadian, I have to admit State of the Union Addresses rank pretty low on my viewing choices even as a political junkie. I would much rather take in a stilted reading by my Governor General of a decent Speech from the Throne. However, seeing as this was Obama’s third, and barring unforeseen circumstances the last, of this term I figured I would tune in. So what were my thoughts?

Well, as a social media addict; I tend to watch political things like this with one eye on the TV, one eye on Facebook, and another eye on Twitter, and yes I know that makes me a mutant.  But it gives me an important insight, you see I have been lucky and blessed in my composition of friends in that I count among the very closest: a radical anarchist, social conservatives, Marxists, socialists, liberals, libertarians – even an NDPer or two. This gives me an opportunity to see people from all over the political spectrum respond to events like this from all over the world (OK, mainly here and the USA) in real time as they happen. You get a lot more honesty that way, and you tend to be able to see themes of thoughts within diverse groups. OK, fair enough that that sounded like I put my friends under the microscope for some kind of social experiment, but everyone does that, right? Right? Guys?

Anyhoo, I have some mixed views about Obama. First of all, I think he is a radical, socialist, class warfare engaging, big spending, and liberal; on the other hand, there are perhaps a few policies of George W. Bush that I actually supported, and Obama continued them all. (Surge in Afghanistan, drone attacks in Pakistan, continue with Guantanamo, Iranian sanctions, continued intelligence gathering and searching for Osama bin Laden and his eventual assassination, and Iraq withdrawal schedule – some would question my libertarian bona fides based on that list)

However, when I first heard him speak while watching the first of the Democratic Primary debates, I looked at my beautiful wife and uttered, “That man will be the next President of the United States.” I was floored with his ability to talk eloquently at length having no apparent point or meaningful content. He simply spoke in catchphrases, all the while looking hip, cool, and seriously intelligent. This allowed anyone and everyone to latch onto his soaring rhetoric and paint onto it like an empty canvas whatever policies or ideals that they held most dear, with absolute surety that Obama believed (X), “Just like ME!” And so Obama ran as every American, as vague and vacuous as possible while speaking about change and never really defining what that change was, all the while allowing himself to be his supporters write large. To the homosexual/LGBTQ community, he was standing up for gay rights. To the feminist, he was fighting for the equality of womyn, to the union worker, he was in it for the working man, to the black community, he was a symbol that spoke deeply to the overcoming and achievement that many thought would always be denied to them. That is why I think that any attack or critique leveled at him during this period was met with charges of racism, bigotry, homophobia, etc. You see, you weren’t criticizing a politician whose policies (such as you could figure them out) you happened to not agree with, you were criticizing THEM, personally.

That brings us to last night. Much of the shine seems to have come off the President since “The waters stopped rising” on election night. But some quarters of his followers still see and hear themselves when he speaks. I don’t think that he could shake their support if he ran on the “We love Hitler and eat puppies” platform.

The speech I watched was horrid. Definitely not his best effort and incredibly simplistic in its language. I felt kind of talked down to. I even later found out that Obama’s speeches are written to a lower grade level than any other President’s, but that may have more to do with his style of impactful, curt, rhetoric, and the ongoing simplification of the English language than anything else.

But the things that shocked me? His continual attempts at class warfare. The attacks on the oil industry, even as his pal Warren Buffet lobbies him directly to stop Keystone XL while owning the railroad companies that would directly benefit from Keystone not going through. The doubling down on green energy even as more and more problems are discovered in the fraud laden “Green Energy Sector” and stimulus moneys are being found to have propped up several pet projects that went bankrupt after sucking up American taxpayer money for as long as they could. To a point, it was more of what I have come to expect of this President, all hype, nothing of substance. Full text here.

The Republican response, however, was brilliant. Amazing even. Gov. Mitch Daniels is not someone I have been terribly familiar with, but even a short perusal of his accomplishments at the state level is pretty impressive. The response was intelligent, articulate, and encapsulated conservative/libertarian values. You knew it was good when immediately after his response the pundits on the TV as well as on Twitter immediately started asking why he wasn’t running for President. Full text here.

As a Canadian, I wish I didn’t have to care about this, but you can’t have the world’s largest economy on your southern border and not be affected by every little thing that they do. So, I ask all Americans and Canadians to get educated about the issues, get involved in a campaign and start to get political. Check out this analysis by the Cato Institute.  I still think that Obama is going to win a second term, but purely because Mitch Daniels and Chris Christie are not running. It is going to be an interesting election, that’s for sure.

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