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More Quibbles With Barack’s Speech
Posted by: MichaelW on Friday, August 29, 2008

I've already tackled the overarching theme of Obama's speech, and McQ ably picks apart what passed for substance, but here are a few more portions that struck me as odd. First, the opening lines:
Four years ago, I stood before you and told you my story - of the brief union between a young man from Kenya and a young woman from Kansas who weren't well-off or well-known, but shared a belief that in America, their son could achieve whatever he put his mind to.
Why then did his father move back to Kenya, leaving his wife and little Barack behind? And then shortly after, why did Barack's mother marry another foreigner and move the family to Indonesia? The only people who seemed to think that opportunity for young Barack lay in America were his maternal "typical white people" grandparents.

Later in the speech, Obama chided the Republican vision of America:
In Washington, they call this the "Ownership Society," but what it really means is that you're on your own. Out of work? Tough luck, you're on your own. No health care? The market will fix it. You're on your own. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, even if you don't have boots. You are on your own.
He piled on during the "promise of America" passages:
That's the promise of America - the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper.
Yet, Obama explicitly makes mention of the sacrifices made by his own family in providing for his future, emphasizing their sense of personal responsibility in making that happen:
I think about my mom, who raised my sister and me on her own while she worked and earned her degree, who once turned to food stamps, but was still able to send us to the best schools in the country with the help of student loans and scholarships.


I think about my grandmother, who worked her way up from the secretarial pool to middle management, despite years of being passed over for promotions because she was a woman.

She's the one who taught me about hard work. She's the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so that I could have a better life. She poured everything she had into me.
The message I took from these family snippets was that getting ahead starts at home, and not with some government program, and certainly not in the Oval Office.

Finally, one more quibble. Obama made much ado last night about creating good paying jobs here in America, and punishing companies that outsource labor:
You know, unlike John McCain, I will stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America.

I'll eliminate capital gains taxes for the small businesses and start-ups that will create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow.


And I'll invest $150 billion over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy — wind power, and solar power (OTCBB:SOPW) , and the next generation of biofuels — an investment that will lead to new industries and 5 million new jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced.
However, his education plan seems to be at cross-purposes with his jobs plan:
And we will keep our promise to every young American: If you commit to serving your community or our country, we will make sure you can afford a college education.
I don't really have any problem with offering incentives to take community service jobs out of college or graduate school, or for joining the military. But if more people choose those routes through higher education, whose going to do all those wonderful new jobs Obama wants to create?

Anyway, those are a few of my problems with Obama's speech. Below the fold is the entire transcript, so feel free to pick away at it in the comments.

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Previous Comments to this Post 

Obama wants to "end the Oil addiction" in 10 years? That means every American will have to buy a car in the next decade. We can’t even convince everyone to buy a new TV after 10 years. How are we going to convince the same population to buy new cars within the same time period that cost at least 10X more and, oh by the way, HAVEN’T BEEN INVENTED YET?
Written By: SaveFarris
URL: http://
"... the fundamental belief that I am my brother’s keeper;"

How can he say this with a straight face?
Written By: Ronnie Gipper
URL: http://
How can he say this with a straight face?
Trainers, and lots of practice in front of mirrors.
Written By: Arcs
URL: http://
I thought Obama actually showed remarkable prescience when — after promising to invest 150 billion in renewable energy, recruit "an army" of teachers and pay them higher salaries, assure college to all who do community service, provide affordable health care to all, help families with "paid sick days" and protect Social Security — he warned soberly that "many of these plans will cost money."

Not to worry though: He’s going to cover "every dime" by cutting waste and closing loopholes. Plus he’s gonna "cut taxes - cut taxes - for 95% of all working families." Woo Hoo!

And some people don’t think you can learn anything useful doing community organizing. Organizing communities. Giving speeches in church basements. Whatever.
Written By: Linda Morgan
URL: http://
I kind of like the idea that he’s going to go through the budget "line by line". Evidently during his 140+ days in the Senate he hasn’t noticed that the budget is about 18,000 pages long.
Written By: jorgxmckie
URL: http://
Linda: I had basically the same thoughts. Your’s were much higher in snark value though (and more enjoyable).


That was one of the only things that piqued my interest in Obama’s speech. However, I couldn’t help but think he was ripping off that Kevin Kline movie, "Dave" where, ironically, a poseur plays President:
Dave realizes that he now has more allies than he expected, and manages to turn the tables on Alexander by recruiting Reed, Ellen Mitchell, and his old friend Murray Blum (Charles Grodin). After Blum, a CPA, helps Dave reorganize the national budget in order to save a $650 million program for helping the homeless — a project the First Lady supported but Alexander wanted vetoed. In doing so, he demonstrates dramatically in a cabinet meeting that he is a much better actor than anyone gave him credit for. Not only does he shut down Alexander’s objections (effectively humiliating him), he sways the cabinet and surrounding press into cheering for the new cuts to save the program.
If President Obama would really go through the budget, line by line, item by item, and eliminate any programs, I’d be impressed. Of course, we both know that this will never happen, and even if it did, the amount of money that he wants to spend will far outpace the elimination of a few government programs.
Written By: MichaelW
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Written By: qkwtvzdw

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