Obama’s State of the Union: A star plays to an empty house

January 28, 2010

By Jesse Leaf
Senior Editor
Troy Media

Jesse Leaf
Jesse Leaf

WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 28, 2010/ Troy Media/ — US President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech last night was a disheartening and depressing performance on so many levels. Not that the star disappointed: Obama was as charismatic and in command of his material as he always is. The script was masterly crafted, the delivery spot on. It was the audience – the American public and their elected representatives – that fell woefully short. Here was a star playing to an empty house.

The state of the US is not good. It has a complex list of problems long in the making, the result of an imperfect human nature which manifested in a culture that spawned a flawed government incapable of rising above its shortcomings. Obama, as he by now painfully recognizes, was speaking to deaf ears.

Me-first culture

The reasons are inherent in a culture that has evolved into a narcissistic, greedy, me-first society. Politicians are less interested in the commonweal than they are in maintaining an elitist lifestyle and feeding their power-hungry egos.

Why would Republicans vote as a Soviet-style bloc against measures that would ease the strain of health-care costs for average Americans? Why would they not stand in applause when the President announces that his program cut taxes for 95 per cent of working families? And why would those Americans most affected by a program of change vote for these people? Like Harry Potter, they were deceived by the (Republican) half-blood princes, naively accepting the obvious, unaware of the deceptions beneath.

These are questions that seem to have baffled Barack Obama and much of the Democratic Party. And here is where the blame falls on the left. Obama and his party misread the American electorate, thinking that their overwhelming victory in 2008 was the result of the public’s finally turning to their liberal philosophy. Not so.

Bear with me now. First, the Obama vote was a (very belated) vote against George W. Bush and the mess he got the country into. It was a vote against a set of very weak, even comical, opposing candidates. It was a vote cast in typically American fashion, in the hope that a magical young Wizard can swoop in, wave a wand, and make things instantly better. It was a vote that was entirely misread and misunderstood, and the Democrats and their flag bearer are paying the price in a tantrum-backlash resulting in lost elections, lost poll standings, and the specter of a lost future.

Democrats should adopt enemy tactics

Americans are an impatient, conservative, immature people. Yes, it is a great country and, to quote Obama, “Despite our hardships, our union is strong.” But it is a country in transition, and Americans don’t take transition well. They are, only now, beginning to see the consequences of shipping mega jobs overseas, of strangling their once-vaunted educational system,  of class elitism and their laissez-faire attitude towards big-time corporations, banks and the financial industry.

Yet the country remains paralyzed to act.

The President’s speech exposed the fatal flaw in his Weltanschauung. He castigated the Supreme Court for its vote against political-funding caps for corporations. Didn’t he see that coming, as the justices voted along ideological (i.e., party) lines? He castigated Republicans for playing party politics. Excuse me. There is no other kind. Washington is a cauldron of deals and dealing, manipulation and fraud, lies and deceit, the public face and the private reality. This is politics, Mr. President, deal with it. Morality stops at the Beltway.

And Democrats, learn to play the game as successfully as your enemies (yes, enemies) across the aisle. Look around: The age of chivalry is dead. Get in their face, get down and dirty. That is what plays in Peoria, not highfalutin philosophies. A morality play is just that, a play. (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi and (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid are pathetic wimps with broken wands. And their prince seems no match for the Voldemort of entrenched interests and American inertia.

Channels: The Calgary Beacon, January 29, 2010

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