February 2, 2011

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A President Seriously Out of Touch

Did you enjoy President Obama’s gooey nostalgia for the Happy Days of Eisenhower and Howdy Doody as much I did?


Saul Alinsky warned radicals to “never go outside the expertise of your people.” But desperate times call for desperate measures, so Obama jumped the shark to the time of Potsy and Fonzie and Joannie Loves Chachi to rekindle a flavor of Americana that died a couple of years before Obama was born. Or that never actually existed. Take your pick.

I read the address before the speech started, thanks to prime seating at KSDK’s studio on Market Street. I was surprised at its brevity, its vagueness, its silliness, and its meaninglessness.

Going beyond the direct references to the 50s, Obama tried to evoke the supposed blandness of the 50s that the kids in the 60s criticized so much. That was his only success of the night.

The future is ours to win. But to get there, we can’t just stand still. As Robert Kennedy told us, “The future is not a gift. It is an achievement.” Sustaining the American Dream has never been about standing pat. It has required each generation to sacrifice, and struggle, and meet the demands of a new age.

Across the table from me were three Democrats. They looked pained at Obama’s sloooooowww delivery and his jokes that bombed both in the House chamber in Channel 5’s studio. As Peggy Noonan said, in her column aptly title_ An Unserious Speech Misses the Mark_:

The State of the Union speech was not centrist, as it should have been, but merely mushy, and barely relevant. It wasted a perfectly good analogy—America is in a Sputnik moment—by following it with narrow, redundant and essentially meaningless initiatives. Rhetorically the speech lay there like a lox, as if the document itself knew it was dishonest, felt embarrassed, and wanted to curl up quietly in a corner of the podium and hide. But the president insisted on reading it.

And reading it poorly, I might add.

In the post-SOTU interview, I said, “It was as if his writers erased everything he believes in.”

My comment was as much about Obama’s slack attitude as about the address’s vacuous content. Obama clearly didn’t believe a damn word he said, and he seemed not to care who knew it.

In the end, the State of the Union speech may go down as an emblem of Obama administration: wasteful, boring, phony, weak, and poorly delivered by a president who’s seriously out of touch with our purpose as a nation.