Lifting the veil A critique of a speech that was designed to define a president By: DD On 20 January 2009, history was made. A black man was elected President of the United States of America; historic for sure, but for most Americans not unanticipated and certainly not unimaginable. For African Americans, Obamas election ushered in a new era from which the scope of the futures possibilities would no longer be measured by the lack of possibilities past. For racial bigots, it represented the final nail in the coffin of little thinking and narrow vocabularies. For the rest of mainstream America, the election of Barack Obama just represented a new administration, much like administrations past; a hopeful, optimistic, yet anxious time, where people desire leadership and a better tomorrow for their lives and their country. After all, the vote for President is a vote for the potential of that man or woman to lead the nation to a better future, not a vote for race, sex, creed, religion or even political party. Americans are not that simple or objective of course, sadly. The speech was much like its speaker; eloquent, politically flamboyant, hollow, scattered, shallow in depth, and attractive to the naive. Much was spoken; little was said. Not surprisingly, then president-elect Obama, deliberated over his inaugural speech for days. Days spent refining a recipe that would make a putrid political agenda palatable. Where you find a shallow play of words, read between the lines. Barack Obama labored to evade detection by skeptical Americans, to pacify his political base, and to dazzle the mob. It is through this prism that we will peel back the veil of vague innuendo, pageantry, patriotic rouse, and rhetoric that is the sum of an inaugural speech by the unlikely candidate who became our first African American President. True to expectation President Barack Obama delivered his inaugural address with poise, grace, tenacity and authority. The forum for his speech was awesome; 1.8 million cold, euphoric Americans bursting the seams of the capitol mall to listen. A world audience listened. So let us examine what was said. This critique will use President Obamas inaugural speech as a vehicle from which to unravel the man and the politician in Barack Obama and hold him to the light of reason and the ideals of our founding fathers through their words and the documents they produced. After all, Obama began his speech by saying We the people have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents. By most accounts President Obamas inaugural speech was not as profound as was anticipated. The expectation was a sound bite that would reverberate through the ages like Kennedys Ask not what your country can do for you, rather ask what you can do for your country, or Martine Luther King Jr.s I have a dream speech. In all fairness, the pressure placed on Barack Obama must have been enormous; speak to the task of being president of all Americans whose labor has just begun or speak as a champion whose labor has come to its journeyed end through victory. The President did some of both. However, the permeating tone of the speech was fear. Obama described the political atmosphere for his assuming the mantel of Presidential responsibility as amidst gathering clouds and raging storms and in the midst of a crisis whos challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. For a President, whose candidacys mantra was Yes we can and Change we can believe in the inaugural mobs drunken chant of optimism became instantly sober. As a candidate, Barack Obama routinely charged that his opponents, President Bush and Senator John McCain, employed scare tactics to maintain their hold on the White House because they have little else to offer voters. In his opening address the new president demonstrated that politics as usual endures. Fear after all is the time tested silencer of dissent and catalyst that ensures the disenfranchised acquiesce. Our founding fathers understood this tactic. John Adams observed that Fear is the foundation of most governments. Thomas Jefferson concluded When the people fear the government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty. A fearful, silenced, selfish and inward looking electorate is precisely what President Obama intends to massage and nurture while he disembowels America of its founding principles, leaving intact only a hollow shell, where we are America in name only. Despair and dim prospects was Obamas message Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet. Indeed the single greatest factor that keeps our market in the red is a lack of public and consumer confidence, a confidence that our future is bright. A confidence which has sustained America through civil war, world war, famine, drought, natural disaster, and true economic depression such as Americas faith in God, Liberty, Justice, and Compassion are gone. Where Obamas message was bleak it could have been that home ownership is at 68.9%, unemployment is only at 7.2 % compared to 6.91 % in 1993 under President Clinton (our crowning economic years). Excluding the 4th quarter which was -3%, economic growth was +1.3% nationally for 2008 compared with -6% in 2001. Compared with China, our life expectancy for total population is 78 years old compared to 73, infant mortality rate is 6.6 deaths/1000 live births compared with 21.16/1000, literacy rate is 99% compared to 90.9%, per capita GDP is $46,000 compared with $5,400. In a vague statement, President Obama targets his speech to the down-trodden, war weary, casualties of economic defeat stating that On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and the worn out dogmas, that for too long have strangled our politics. Grievances, such as excessive taxation and re-distribution of wealth? Recriminations, such as judicial activism? Worn out dogmas, such as the right of the unborn to live and the right of the people to bear arms? Are these the childish things that we as a young nation should silence from public debate? That if we but silence our diverging values and surrender our voice, our politics, our sense of duty to fairness and justice, and our sacred honor the government may redress our misfortunes and usher in a new age where we are free to live as our government might have us live without recourse. President Obama correctly celebrates and attributes Americas greatness to the toils of the risk-takers, the doers, [and] makers of things stating that our journey towards greatness has not been the path for the faint-hearted for those who prefer leisure over work Unfortunately America has strayed from this truth resulting in the de-evolution of the American worker and the American work ethic. For example, 56% of men and 43% of woman ages 20-24 live with one or both of their parents with an astonishing 65% of college graduates moving back home to live with their parents. The term for this pandemic of sloth is known as Boomerang kids. According to the census bureau of statistics 14 % of families included at least one adult child in 2005. As much as 10.9 % of 20-24 year olds are unemployed. Americas youth has become so spoiled and undisciplined that self respect, ambition, intellectual curiosity, and dignity are as foreign to them as a day spent without Guitar Hero and Pop Tarts. The age of instant gratification and consequence free living has caught up with us. We call it a financial crisis, indifference to American ego and passion for pleasure calls it social and economic reconciliation. Indeed, this age of irresponsibility and care free living is pervasive and systemic across the American construct. Government programs designed to bridge misfortune with opportunity have become an island from which to withdraw from responsible living and subsist comfortably poor. For example, 90% of the 4.7 million families receiving Aid to Families with Dependents (AFDC) have spent over two years on the AFDC caseload with over 75% remaining on the caseload past five years. According to the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities during fiscal year 2007 the federal government spent $2.7 trillion dollars, of which $162 billion was borrowed. Approximately 21% or $586 billion was spent on Social Security, $572 billion or 21% on Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP combined, and roughly 9% or $254 billion on Safety Net programs such as food stamps, tax credits, school meal programs, home energy bill assistance, etc. Over $237 billion was spent on the interest of our national dept, not principle. Meanwhile we borrowed money to fund the budget. To sum it up, the federal government spent more than it earned and the interest is higher than the sum borrowed. Even as the federal government has demonstrated that it has the fiscal suaveness of a 16 year old, congress authorizing itself additional loans, under the guise of a economic stimulus package, for a grand sum of $1.6 + trillion dollars in the span of four months. After correcting for inflation, it is estimated the cost to tax payers will be 5 times what it cost for President Roosevelts New Deal during the Great Depression. During his inaugural speech President Obama said The Question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. If this is the case than why has he earmarked $87 billion addition stimulus dollars on top of the normally budgeted $572 billion dollars for Medicaid? Is this because Medicaid is underfunded or because it is woefully dysfunctional? Notwithstanding the stimulus craze, the federal budget constitutes one fifth of the nations GDP and is projected to top 25% in 2009. All told 60% of the federal budget is earmarked for Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, Safety Net Programs, and debt interest combined. Currently, retired Americans will live a third of their adult life in taxpayer funded retirement. Shocking still, some 77 million baby boomers will be entering retirement in the coming decade. John Adams wrote Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. Mr. President, we are committing social and economic suicide. President Obama said that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. I would argue that, in the case of fiscal responsibility, limited government, and government accountability, never before has a reasoned debate and a call for action been more wanting. Thomas Jefferson wrote A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor and bread it has earned this is the sum of good government. In his inaugural address President Obama said The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act. By bold the President must mean spending the unearned revenue of an unborn generation. During the presidential debates, Obama said he would scrub the budget line by line to eliminate wasteful spending. Yet within one week of being President, he has successfully pressed the passage of yet another stimulus package through the House of Representatives totaling $1.2 trillion once interest has been factored in. This on top of the $700 billion stimulus package passed in October. Obama is as Charles Dickens Oliver Twist asking Please, Sir, may I have some more. Thomas Jefferson wrote It is incumbent that every generation pay its own debt as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world. Over $350 billion of the $700 billion allocated to the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) has not yet been spent. Designed to buy up toxic assets that were overwhelming banks due to risky real estate loans, TARP has been completely mismanaged with the money spent thus far going to banks who have used it to buy out their competitors instead. Feeding the fear machine, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, David Obey (D-Wis.) said Another week that we delay is another 100,000 or more people unemployed. I dont think we want that on our conscience. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi echoed We simply cannot wait. The democrats sense of urgency from the president on down is another fear tactic that if sincere would be reflected in the aims of the stimulus package. As it stands only $26 billion of the $819 billion will be spent by the end of 2009 and another $110 billion by 2010s end according to the Congressional Business Office. Sold as a stimulus to repair the nations infrastructure and save and build jobs only $ 30 billion has been earmarked for road and highway construction. Of that, only $5 billion will be spent by years end. With only $90 billion earmarked for infrastructure, which arguably would stimulate jobs, $87 billion has been earmarked for additional Medicaid, $79 billion to prevent education program cutbacks, $6 billion for higher education modernization and the list goes on. In the name of economic stimulus and job creation, $150 million has been earmarked for honey bee insurance, $75 million for smoking-cessation research, $13 billion for special education programs, $275 billion in tax relief for lower-income families including illegal aliens with tax ID numbers, and $4.19 billion for neighborhood stabilization activities such as ACORN who is currently under investigation for voter registration fraud on Obamas behalf. During the second presidential debate Obama said of his economic plan Im cutting more than Im spending so that it will be a net spending cut. With all due respect Mr. President, barrowing $819 billion dollars worth of Pork and disguising it as stimulus spending through rhetoric wont generate a net spending cut. Mr. President, you have no moral courage, and therefore have no moral authority. In your inaugural speech you said What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility Your only consistency is your inconsistency. At the end of the day, the stimulus package is not responsive enough nor weighted proportionally to stymie job loss and strengthen our infrastructure. What it is, is the mother of all pork barrel spending initiatives designed to sure up the democratic political base for the 2010 congressional elections. Tragically, the more that is spent in FY 2009 the better for the Obama administration. When budgeted spending for FY 2010 falls dramatically below the previous years budget, President Obama will claim victory, citing that a surplus now exists. In reality the budget for FY 2010 will still tower in comparison to that of FY 2008. In describing our market in the wake of the current recession Obama said that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous and that the success of our economy has always depended on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart Favoring prosperity is what the economies of free market capitalism do. Capitalism is economic Darwinism. Our economy is suffering because we have ignored this simple truth. The cause of this recession is government meddling, forcing banks to depart from their time tested economic models by extending opportunity in the form of risky loans to an over reaching customer base. The president seems confused, where we will not apologize for our way of life on one hand, we must subsidize the non-prosperous for our common good on the other. As the President stated all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness. True. However, people also have the right not to pursue happiness, and if it is their determination not to better themselves or their lot in life, it is not the burden of society to reward sloth. Yes, all are equal and free. Bigotry in any flavor has no place in the American experience and its eradication is nearly complete. The fact that President Obama, an African American, is President bears evidence to that. On the other hand, when a government takes from one people to advance another it is an affront to freedom and an assault towards happinesss pursuit. Thomas Jefferson said The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not. The budget for 2007 constituted one fifth of the nations GDP. Of that, over 60% was used to fund social services and pay the interest of our national debt. Working American families are being taxed 38.2% according to national averages. The President talks of opportunity and the pursuit of happiness yet he is the greatest champion of that which undermines both: wasteful spending and excessive taxation. Thomas Jefferson wrote My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government. When President Obama said To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history he was presumably speaking of Russia and Iran but eerily described his own political party. Corruption like ACORNs election fraud, and Illinois Governor Blagojevichs political circus; deceit like exploiting the economic misfortune of our country in the guise of economic stimulus to sell a pork barrel spending bill that would, according to the Wall Street Journal, push federal debt toward levels not seen since WWII; Silencing dissent like President Obama, leader of the free world, lashing out at talk radio host Rush Limbaugh for saying he hopes the presidents economic goals fail because they amount to socialism. Americas most basic principles are under attack. The President should encourage reasoned debate, not stifle it. Are we to enjoy freedom of speech only when that speech falls within the message parameters of the partys talking points? In concluding his inaugural speech the President made vague and incoherent appeals to Americas sense of patriotism and said this is the meaning of liberty and our creed defining Liberty as the right to be served at a local restaurant as a black man. Yes, being denied service because of race is an affront to liberty. Though inclusive, American liberty transcends racial equality. Perhaps the President should read the American Declaration of Independence, for there liberty, as our founding fathers meant it, is clearly defined. George Washington wrote Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism. Perhaps Obama failed to reference the Declaration of Independence because where you find reference to English oppression and King George III, President Obama and his government could substitute. Oppressive taxation, over reaching and meddling in the affairs of commerce and the daily lives of the citizenry, disregard and contempt towards those who demand transparency in its legislation and question its motives, thin is the ice that separates the cold months of this age from that of a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires Our declaration argued that Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, - That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends [the unalienable rights to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness], it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it Clearly President Obama holds his office under the consent of the governed with 53% of the popular vote. His challenge is now to lead and govern all Americans in a way that does not become destructive of our most sacred rights. Thomas Jefferson was keenly aware of this need for vigilance as he warned Experience hath shewn, that even under the best form of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny. Obama said For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the people upon which this nation relies. Indeed, Thomas Jefferson wrote All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent. If Americans today had the same honor, the same bonds of fellowship towards each other, and the same jealous skepticism towards over reaching government as our founding fathers did, there would soon be new sacred places like Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill. Americans must choose their path. Even under the most despotic reins of tyranny, people have had the choice to either resist or be an accomplice through silence. History bears out that seldom is that choice made on the side of righteousness. This truth is recognized in the Declaration of Independences experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. The power lies with the people and always has. Government is as empowered as we empower it. Generations of indifference entrench governments power and hold, but the will of the people is its master. Let us therefore define our will through reasoned debate and a sober exchange of ideas. And as in Obamas closing sentence during his inaugural speech Let it be said by our childrens children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and Gods grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.