June 26, 2011

The Rhetoric of Losing--Everything

President Obama’s recent speech on Afghanistan was of a piece with his standard rhetoric, with one possible deviation: He only said “I” thirteen times by my count of the speech released by the White House prior to the delivery of the actual speech at West Point. I suspect that with his poll numbers at historic lows and his reelection campaign foremost on the minds of the occupants of the White House, the wisdom of more frequently using “we” has gained some urgency.

According to media accounts, few Americans watched the speech. This is unsurprising in that Mr. Obama is certainly the most over-exposed president in history. One would think that by now, someone on the White House staff would have figured out that the American people do not long for just one more Obama speech on any topic, but apparently making the I/we transition has, to date, fully occupied their attention and rhetorical energies.

A great many media outlets have covered the primary thrust of the speech: we will be pulling out of Afghanistan on a predetermined schedule and regardless of the strategic or tactical conditions at the time. It has also been noted that General Petraeus is less than thrilled with this idea. One would certainly hope so.

My intention with this post is to speak to several of Mr. Obama’s statements, which have, for the most part, escaped comment in the legacy media and even in the blogosphere. None of these comments, which are embedded among the numerous clichés and gaseous tropes, is original; they, in various formulations, have often flowed across Mr. Obama’s teleprompter screens in the past. The value in speaking to these comments is that their frequent repetition almost certainly reflects the fact that they represent Mr. Obama’s fundamental values. That should worry us all.

“For there should be no doubt that so long as I am President, the United States will never tolerate a safe-haven for those who aim to kill us: they cannot elude us, nor escape the justice they deserve.”

Actually, there is considerable doubt about this, most recently demonstrated in Mr. Obama’s failure to support allies throughout the world. Israel certainly has reason to doubt, and so do all of the leaders throughout Eastern Europe, the Middle East and even NATO allies whose requests for American aid in Libya have been, at best, slow-walked. Even in the case of the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden, Mr. Obama took nearly a full day to make a final decision as our assets stood, on alert, ready to go. His inability to make the decision cost a second additional day due to weather conditions and might tend to make reasonable people doubt his commitment in such matters even where Osama Bin Laden was involved.

“And even as there will be dark days ahead in Afghanistan, the light of a secure peace can be seen in the distance. These long wars will come to a responsible end.”

If our departure proves—as it is likely to do—that all America’s enemies need do is wait until we grow tired and announce our departure date—a responsible end to the war is the last thing likely to happen. As has often been observed, Mr. Obama does seem to have an aversion to saying “victory,” and apparently, an aversion to achieving it.

“Instead, we must rally international action, which we are doing in Libya, where we do not have a single soldier on the ground, but are supporting allies in protecting the Libyan people and giving them the chance to determine their destiny.”

Uh, I’m confused. It has been widely noted that NATO does not have sufficient combat power to accomplish much of anything unless America is bearing most of the burden. According to our NATO allies, we’re not providing any real leadership in Libya, and Mr. Obama has announced his pride in “leading from behind” in that endeavor. Apparently Mr. Obama and his advisors consider “leading from behind” to be a good thing, a strategy so strategically innovative and brilliant that it has been accompanied by fighting the first war that does not actually involve “hostilities.” Rhetoric is a flexible thing indeed in the hands of Mr. Obama. So, apparently, is leadership.

‘Above all, we are a nation whose strength abroad has been anchored in opportunity for our citizens at home. Over the last decade, we have spent a trillion dollars on war, at a time of rising debt and hard economic times. Now, we must invest in America’s greatest resource – our people. We must unleash innovation that creates new jobs and industry, while living within our means. We must rebuild our infrastructure and find new and clean sources of energy.”

Where to begin? Opportunity for our citizens at home is apparently to be won—along with the future--by destroying the coal and oil industries, destroying Boeing, nationalizing 2/3 of the American automobile industry, driving gasoline prices and unemployment through the roof, squandering nearly a trillion dollars on a stimulus that didn’t stimulate anything, and the list goes on and on. We are in a time of rising debt and hard economic times not because of our expenditures on war, but because of Mr. Obama’s ruinous economic policies and his emphasis on suppressing the private sector while enriching the public sector and unions.

Live within our means? Not when Mr. Obama and Congressional Democrats are grimly determined to continue to spend money we don’t have--in unbelievable quantities--and to raise taxes so that they can do just that. Amazingly, they are talking--with straight faces--of a second, more expensive stimulus. Mr. Obama has admitted long ago that there never were any “shovel-ready jobs,” and has recently joked—in very bad taste—about that near-trillion dollar waste of money we didn’t have.

While our infrastructure is in need of repair, much of it is not the business of the federal government, and because our national debt has reached unheard of levels, there is no money to be had for that purpose. Mr. Obama and the Democrats will not admit that we have no money and that none of this may be reversed without substantially reducing spending, something they are genetically incapable of doing. Remember too that the Democrats, in violation of federal law, have not produced a budget for nearly 800 days, and have announced their determination to continue to violate that particular law rather than revealing their true intentions to the public.

It is in Mr. Obama’s so often repeated as to be unremarkable cliché about finding new and clean sources of energy that we see Mr. Obama’s most fundamental beliefs. He has long had the idea that what he says must be reality because he has spoken it. Is there any sentient being alive who does not realize that discovering “new and clean sources of energy” would make them instantly richer than Al Gore or John Kerry? Unfortunately, the laws of physics are not cooperating.

The problem is that rhetoric does not equal reality. None of the sources of energy currently under development, none currently known to man, can replace fossil fuels despite the most fervent wishes of Mr. Obama and his environmentalist allies. Wind and solar cannot, even if developed to a degree beyond their proponent’s wildest dreams, replace more than a tiny portion of our nation’s energy needs. Not only that, the very same environmentalists consistently oppose, delay and stop solar and wind projects across the nation. It almost makes one think that finding new sources of energy really isn’t their ultimate goal.

While Mr. Obama, his Energy Secretary Mr. Chu and various of their sycophants would be delighted to force Americans—for the sake of what they believe to be worthy Progressive goals--to abandon their cars, freeze in the winter and bake in the summer, most Americans realize that their lives, and the lives of their families, rely on affordable energy and that there is simply no even remotely viable replacement.

Would Americans accept new, clean sources of energy? Absolutely, but only immediately viable and affordable replacements for our current energy sources. What, pray tell, might those immediately viable and affordable replacements be? Rhetoric doesn’t fill fuel tanks and money “saved” by virtue of not being spent on the military, even if is not wasted on other boondoggles rather than being used to pay down the debt, cannot alter the law of physics and produce magic new forms of energy.

And finally: “America, it is time to focus on nation building here at home.”

Uh, Mr. Obama, we already have a nation here at home. What we need is for you to quit deconstructing it. We’ll take it from there.

Posted by MikeM at June 26, 2011 10:40 PM