Barack Obama flops in Knox: the president’s speech was a train-wreck
It’s been a rough few weeks for Barack Obama. A wave of scandals has undermined trust in the White House, and a series of major polls has hammered the president in the first year of his second term. Support for Obama has dropped to its lowest level in two years, with widespread public dissatisfaction over his handling of the economy. A NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released this morning showed the president’s approval level at just 45 percent, with 50 percent disapproving. 56 percent of Americans are “pessimistic” or “uncertain” in “their feelings about how the president will do during the rest of his term,” and only 17 percent of Americans surveyed are “optimistic.”
Today’s speech at Knox College, Illinois, was supposed to be the president’s come-back moment, the first of a series of addresses aimed at retaking the initiative by the White House. Instead it was a train-wreck. In an hour-long address, which seemed to last forever (and par for course started 15 minutes late), the president spoke in deeply partisan terms, often with bitterness and anger, lambasting his political opponents, dismissing criticism of his policies, and launching into his favourite theme of class warfare, attacking the wealthy and what he calls the “winner takes all economy.” In a display of extraordinary arrogance (even by his standards), he condemned what he called “an endless parade of distractions, political posturing and phony scandals,” a direct reference to the Congressional investigations into the IRS and Benghazi scandals, which most Americans don’t see as phony. He also defended his increasingly unpopular Obamacare proposals, attacking what he calls “a politically-motivated misinformation campaign,” while failing to acknowledge that moderate Democrats are “steadily turning against Obamacare” as The Washington Post reported today.
This was a highly defensive speech, with President Obama in full campaign mode. There were no fresh ideas, just a tired rehash of earlier campaign rhetoric. It was also another love letter to big government, with a clarion call for yet more federal spending on environmental measures, infrastructure, manufacturing, and a laundry list of liberal pet causes. There was not a word about reducing the burden of government regulation, and getting bureaucracy off the backs of entrepreneurs. His speech promised more government spending at a time when America’s national debt is approaching a staggering $17 trillion. He rejected tax cuts, and bashed the rich, at times sounding more like Francois Hollande than the leader of the free world.
Once again, Barack Obama demonstrated why he has built an unenviable reputation as a perpetual campaigner in chief, with an overwhelmingly partisan agenda. Obama is no Ronald Reagan, who always sought to bring the country together based on the common ideals of the Founding Fathers. President Obama’s message will do nothing to reassure a sceptical American public. With unemployment still above 10 percent in 27 major US metropolitan areas, and nearly one in six Americans living on food stamps, the economic record of this administration leaves much to be desired. Today in Illinois, President Obama spoke the language of decline, promising more of the same left-wing policies that have weakened US competitiveness, eroded economic freedom, and have saddled the world’s superpower with historic levels of debt. Americans deserve better than the failed statism that has bankrupted cities like Detroit, and threatens to do the same to the rest of the country.