Mr. President, Words Matter

Obama, the rhetorician, forgot that people might actually take seriously what he said.

Victor Davis Hanson
Nation Review Online
February 3, 2010

What is Barack Obama’s real problem? Too many people here and abroad took him at his word, and he now seems quite angry at that.

For two years Obama serially damned the entrepreneurial classes. They should “spread the wealth,” be “patriotic,” and pay “their fair share.” They should be paying more income, payroll, and inheritance taxes. They could not be trusted with health care, student loans, high finance, or auto manufacturing. Their lifestyles of private jets and Super Bowl junkets came at the expense of the downtrodden. The would-be rich who made just over $200,000 were indiscriminately lumped together with the elite rich on Wall Street — who ironically contributed inordinately to Barack Obama’s non–publicly financed campaign coffers.

Apparently, the small-business classes took Obama’s writs seriously, and for the foreseeable future they have shut down — they have quit hiring and buying, and are riding out the “recovery.” In response, a frantic Obama suddenly began talking about balanced budgets, tax cuts, and tax credits, and praising the private sector. Too late: Too many entrepreneurs took him at his original word.

Then there was the constant partisanship, the “never let a crisis go to waste” Chicago hardball. Never has a president talked so much about reaching across the aisle and done so little of it. During the campaign, the Senate’s most partisan member claimed he was its least. That same deception characterized most of his first year in the White House. He promised C-SPAN coverage of bipartisan give-and-take, while actually holding the health-care debate behind Democratic congressional doors to offer bribes and insider deals in exchange for votes. “Let’s end the bickering” was usually the preface to “Bush did it, not me.” Absolute Democratic control of Washington — both Congress and the White House — meant that Republicans had “played Washington politics” to stop grass-roots governance…

…How odd that Obama, the rhetorician, forgot that words matter — and that the truth is not a trifle, a mere construct predicated on the particular situation at the moment it is voiced…

The entire article is at National Review Online.

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