Friday, June 15, 2012

Ohio Speech: One Last Hurrah

Everyone seems to be disappointed in the president's June 14 speech in Cleveland, Ohio, from the press corps to Dana Milbank to Charles Krauthammer.  But I think it was interesting.  It reminded me, obliquely, of the great speech, the full-throated recitation of the liberal world-view, that Ted Kennedy gave at the 1980 Democratic Convention.

Not that the president's speech held a candle to Ted's old speech.

The president on Thursday ran through the liberal world-view, 2012 version, for the assembled liberal faithful.  He did not so much set out his plan for the future as paint a picture of how we got here.

The most important thing to communicate was the New York Times version of the last ten years.  Tax cuts and deregulation brought on the Crash of 2008.
Without strong enough regulations, families were enticed, and sometimes tricked, into buying homes they couldn’t afford. Banks and investors were allowed to package and sell risky mortgages. Huge, reckless bets were made with other people’s money on the line. And too many from Wall Street to Washington simply looked the other way.
Yeah.  Notice how "Washington" stands in for Fannie and Freddie and the Community Reinvestment Act and the young Barack Obama working with ACORN to bully banks into lowering their lending standards.

Then there was the liberal line on the auto bailout.
And when my opponent and others were arguing that we should let Detroit go bankrupt, we made a bet on American workers and the ingenuity of American companies -- and today our auto industry is back on top of the world. (Applause.)
Yeah.  And forget about how the auto bailout was really a crony capitalist bankruptcy in which the law was trampled on and senior creditors (read widows and orphans) got shafted and union auto workers sailed through almost untouched.  Which means that the Detroit problem has just been punted down the road.

Then comes the pivot to the wonders of Big Government. It doesn't do any good to pay workers lower wages or let corporations pollute, said the president.
I see an America with the best-educated, best-trained workers in the world; an America with a commitment to research and development that is second to none, especially when it comes to new sources of energy and high-tech manufacturing. I see a country that offers businesses the fastest, most reliable transportation and communication systems of anywhere on Earth. (Applause.)
Yeah.  Trouble is that we have gone from 1 percent GDP on government education to 6 percent in the last century and you can't really say that we have got six times the payback, Mr. President.  And as for reliable transportation, by which I presume you mean very fast trains, what is the problem with very fast airplanes?  But the bigger point is, Mr. President, is there a hope in hell that government will ever do more than make a complete dog's breakfast of everything it touches, from education to health care to pensions to welfare?

Then the president gets to the really dodgy part of the speech.  Medicare, Medicaid and spending cuts.
My own deficit plan would strengthen Medicare and Medicaid for the long haul by slowing the growth of health care costs -- not shifting them to seniors and vulnerable families. (Applause.) And my plan would reduce our yearly domestic spending to its lowest level as a share of the economy in nearly 60 years.
Yeah.  And I've got a bridge to sell. Are we talking about the death panels here, Mr. President?  And what exactly does "yearly domestic spending" mean?  I suppose it means so-called "discretionary" spending, including everything except Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

The president's speech is an odd creature, and I suspect reflects the hand of the president himself more than his handlers.  I suspect that the president thinks of himself as quite the Hyde Park political philosopher.

I also suspect that,  once the Romney campaign has finished with it, the Ohio speech will turn out to be another big Obama blunder.  Because I think that the president really doesn't know how his liberal bromides sound when they go in the ears of an ordinary moderate voter.

No comments:

Post a Comment