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The President’s Disingenuous Rhetoric:
Claiming to Be Above the Fray While Joining it with Great Abandon

I had not intended to watch the President’s speech last night because I knew I would want to blog on it as I did–and there are other things I’d rather address in these pages.  When I flipped on FoxNews, I had hoped to hear Charles Krauthammer offering his opinion on the address and then turn to other pressing matters related to my recent return from my travels.

But, the speech started late, leaving Dennis Miller to quip (on The O’Reilly Factor), “When a 6:00 speech starts at 6:15, that says it all” [about the government running things].  So, I started watching the speech in medias res.  And as I feared, after watching the second half and reading the entire text, I have many, many thoughts about the speech.  And perhaps the only good ones are an appreciation for the rhetorical crescendo with which the President concluded his remarks, trying to put his plans in a larger context.

While his language was stirring, his remarks were disingenuous.  After staffing his White House with partisan political operatives, Barack Obama can no longer even pretend to claim to float above the bitter partisan battles which divide our nation.  He may have offered conciliatory rhetoric in his speech, but he also offered gratuitous attacks.  And he has allied himself with some of the most divisive figures and organizations in our nation’s capitol.

Not just that, he refused to fault their mean-spirited rhetoric in his speech.  While it was his fellow partisans, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who called their adversaries “un-American,” he took issue only with opponents of a government measure (presumably he means those who opposed the statist aspects of his program) who used the term:

And they knew that when any government measure, no matter how carefully crafted or beneficial, is subject to scorn; when any efforts to help people in need are attacked as un-American; when facts and reason are thrown overboard and only timidity passes for wisdom, and we can no longer even engage in a civil conversation with each other over the things that truly matter — that at that point we don’t merely lose our capacity to solve big challenges.

It was this type of rhetoric, albeit aspiring to appeal to the best in us, which, even more than his dishonesty and claims that his plan won’t add “one dime to the deficit, now or in the future” which defined what I have called “the hypocrisy at the heart of the Obama Administration.” And perhaps for the first time since Barack Obama took office, I found myself shouting at the television set as the the President spoke to the American people, particularly when he lashed out against the nasty partisan politics that plagues our nation’s capital.  For he, his team and his allies have actively contributed to, indeed exacerbated, the problems he rhetorically decries:

But what we’ve also seen in these last months is the same partisan spectacle that only hardens the disdain many Americans have towards their own government.  Instead of honest debate, we’ve seen scare tactics.

Unlike Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., I was not in the President’s presence, so it was not inappropriate for me to shout out as it was for him.  While I certainly share his sentiments, he was wrong to heckle the President of the United States from the floor of the House of Representatives.  He should have shown respect for the office even as he disagrees (and distrusts) the man.  He was right to apologize.

But, the president can’t act as if only those criticizing his plan are contributing to the disdain Americans have toward government.  He — and his allies– have contributed to the growing anti-government sentiment far more than any of his political adversaries.  They didn’t create that disdain.   They tapped into it.

And so too did candidate Barack Obama in his campaign last fall–and even in his address last night.



  1. Thank you for this post. I didn’t watch it, was out having a lovely evening with some girlfriends.
    Am now listening to Rush, he is even harsher than you.
    I am saddened that since I oppose this presidents policies, I am mean spirited and worthy of being personally attacked by the president.

    Comment by Leah — September 10, 2009 @ 12:09 pm - September 10, 2009

  2. Leah, like you, I will proudly wear the badge of “mean-spirited” as long as this man occupies the Oval Orifice.

    He needs to be stopped. And yes, I want his policies to fail.

    Peter H.

    Comment by Peter Hughes — September 10, 2009 @ 12:18 pm - September 10, 2009

  3. I support nationalized health care, having many times in my life been afraid to leave a bad working situation because I would instantly lose my health insurance. This is a form of economic slavery.

    But I have developed such a profound distrust for this Administration that I hope this bill will fail.

    The stirring calls for trust in our “betters,” whether economic betters such as the inherited aristocracy of the Bushes or self-appointed intellectual and moral leaders such the Obamas have worn out.

    Where can the American people turn for good leadership?

    Comment by Anon — September 10, 2009 @ 12:33 pm - September 10, 2009

  4. If I was into conspiracy thinking, I’d say Congressman
    Wilson’s outburst was a clever way to provide a sensational distraction from the actual speech. It’s first or second billing on most of the ‘news’ sites.

    Can’t wait for my “You lie!” t-shirt and bumper sticker.

    Comment by BigJ — September 10, 2009 @ 12:38 pm - September 10, 2009

  5. I earnestly appreciate the intellectual honesty of this site and its supporters. Thank you.

    Comment by AS — September 10, 2009 @ 12:39 pm - September 10, 2009

  6. I attended the University of California at San Diego from 1972 to 1973. This “speech” took me back to the days of listening to meaningless rants without substance that my fellow minorities soaked up with such juvenile enthusiasm. 200 years of slavery (write this tongue in cheek) doesnt give Barak Obama (half Kenyan) the right to outright lie to “The Man.” He continues to fail to realize that he is “The Man.” Such politicians in the 60’s were the inspiration for songs by Buffalo Springfield, etc. He continues to speak out of both sides of his mouth – saying one thing and doing the opposite. Net spending cut – largest deficit ever. Humm…Black Man also speaks with Forked Tongue!!!

    Comment by Duffy - Native Intelligence — September 10, 2009 @ 12:53 pm - September 10, 2009

  7. The Joint Session to Congress for a campaign style speech was an abuse of the forum. I am hopeful it will fail.

    If the Republicans continue to scorn Joe Wilson for speaking truth while the democrats try to steam roll this S**T through then they deserve to be the minority party for the next 50 years.

    CRAZIES ON THE LEFT & WIMPS ON THE RIGHT, Bernie Goldberg was so right!

    Comment by EDinTampa — September 10, 2009 @ 1:11 pm - September 10, 2009

  8. I thought the part where he admitted that there are many details that still need to be ironed out was comical. No kidding?! How were they supposed to have passed this thing before their summer break if there were so many details remaining?

    Comment by Annie — September 10, 2009 @ 1:37 pm - September 10, 2009

  9. Annie, seems you’re anticipating another of my posts on the speech–if I get around to it today. Wondering why he didn’t, with this speech, release a draft of his proposed legislation. Instead, according to one Congressman who was on Greta’s show on Fox, he released a set of laminated talking points to members of the legislative branch–not even the transcript of the speech.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — September 10, 2009 @ 1:51 pm - September 10, 2009

  10. Annie, thank you! That is because it is all about more government control of our lives not about improving health care accessibility for Americans.

    Comment by Leah — September 10, 2009 @ 1:52 pm - September 10, 2009

  11. I would suggest that everyone email the White House in support of Joe Wilson.

    Comment by Charles — September 10, 2009 @ 2:19 pm - September 10, 2009

  12. […] others:  Gay Patriot: “The President’s Disingenuous Rhetoric: Claiming to Be Above the Fray While Joining it with Great A…” – Frugal Cafe Blog Zone: “When Yelling “You Lie” Is So Much Worse Than […]

    Pingback by Representative Joe “Pee Wee” Wilson and his “Porky’s shower scene moment” provided necessary cover for President Obama’s lack of detailed vision. « Ztower — September 10, 2009 @ 2:48 pm - September 10, 2009

  13. Dan, well written points. Good post.

    Am I alone in hearing Obama threaten to “call out” any opponent who distorts his version of truth? Last time I checked, to call out someone is to threaten them with some fists –in my Irish Catholic neighborhood, you called out a kid onto the front yard or into the street when they lied or were spreading vicious rumors about you to other kids. I can’t imagine southside Chicago was much different.

    It happened to me once and that’s why it caught my attention. (BTW, I kicked the twerp’s butt for saying in front of my 6th grade gym class that I kissed Mary Katherine, a hideously ugly 9th grader.)

    Or is it kind of like a Bush-wanna be moment when W famously stated that bin Laden was now wanted Dead or Alive. False bravado and all that? Of course, that got the farLeft to immediately label W as a “cowboy president”.

    I wonder if, given Obama’s threats, we can now label him a Thug President? It fits. First a call to report your neighbors who speak ill of the Celebrity in Chief. Then a promise to sick the White House TruthSquad on you if you dare questioned his plan in comments on the blogosphere. Now a promise to “call you out” if you disagree with him.

    Hmmm. I wonder if the farLeft arts community will be creating an NEA-sponsored rap song singing the praises of Obama thumping on some honky’s butt while capping the homies in his ride?

    Thug president.

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — September 10, 2009 @ 2:55 pm - September 10, 2009

  14. #13 – “Thug president.”

    Fo’ shizzle, M-Matt. (And welcome back!) 😉

    Peter H.

    Comment by Peter Hughes — September 10, 2009 @ 5:36 pm - September 10, 2009

  15. The thug talk is particularly unimpressive coming from a skinny, metrosexual sissy-boy who whines about the price of arugula and vacations on Martha’s Vineyard.

    Comment by V the K — September 10, 2009 @ 7:43 pm - September 10, 2009

  16. […] The President’s Disingenuous Rhetoric:Claiming to Be Above the Fray While Joining it with Grea… […]

    Pingback by GayPatriot » How Obama Increases Disdain Americans Feel For their Government — September 10, 2009 @ 8:30 pm - September 10, 2009

  17. Obama is a hypocrite… and a thug….. you are all welcome to him…….and you can have Kevin Krudd too…..

    Comment by thestraightaussie — September 11, 2009 @ 12:01 am - September 11, 2009

  18. It appears liberals have become like dependent children. We can understand we like the Idea of HOPE and CHANGE.

    But sacrificing individual freedom (and individual responsibility) for free stuff (ice cream and cookies) and changing to COMMUNISM is child like.

    This is not what tens of thousands of Americans fought and sacrificed for. This country did not rise to greatness because politicos promised a lot of free stuff to the people.

    Comment by freddyf — September 11, 2009 @ 1:28 am - September 11, 2009

  19. Thugocracy

    Comment by American Elephant — September 11, 2009 @ 5:21 am - September 11, 2009

  20. Dan, I’m thinking the Thug President is a title with a lot of traction these days. It almost beats my favorite: Celebrity in Chief.

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — September 11, 2009 @ 10:53 am - September 11, 2009

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