Like many insightful pundits who heard (or bed) the president’s speech last week in Osawatomie, Kansas, Michael Barone (as I noted earlier) came away most unimpressed. On Friday, he began his commentary on the address by reminding us of the intellectual pretensions of the president’s party:
Democrats like to think of themselves as the party of smart people. And over the last four years we have heard countless encomiums, and not just from Democrats, of the intellect and perceptiveness of Barack Obama. But a reading of the text of Obama’s December 6 speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, billed as one of his big speeches of the year, shows him to be something like the opposite.
Even by the standards of campaign rhetoric, this is a shockingly shoddy piece of work. You can start with his intellectually indefensible caricature of Republican philosophy: “We are better off when everybody is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules.” Or his simple factual inaccuracy: “The wealthiest Americans are paying the lowest taxes in over half a century.” Or his infantile economic analysis, blaming job losses on the invention of the automated teller machine (they’ve been around for more than four decades, Mr. President, and we’ve had lots of job growth during that time) and the Internet.
Barone faults the Democrat for the “weakness of his public policy arguments”. The president’s weak arguments are accompanied by only a paucity of programs to address the very big problems the country faces. Perhaps that’s because, as Barone claims, the incumbent “has no serious interest in public policy”:
He has spent nearly half his 15 years in public office running for other public office. The only difference now is that, having run out of higher offices to run for, he is just running for reelection instead. Those who pride themselves on belonging to the party of smart people should be embarrassed.
Read the whole thing.