We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another is entirely up to us. I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us. — Barack Obama, Tucson, Jan. 12
The other Obama is back! The nation’s foremost orator, the silver-tongued successor to Bryan and FDR, appeared Wednesday in Tucson to deplore the shooting rampage by an apparent psychotic that left six dead and thirteen injured, including a critically wounded U.S. congresswoman. Obama was at the top of his game, paraphrasing Anne Frank, channeling Abe Lincoln and Karl Malden in On the Waterfront, exhorting us to “align our values with our actions” and “sharpen our instincts for empathy.”
As a customer in a South Philly coffee shop put it, “Great, but what is he gonna do about gun control?” To which I added, “Whatever happened to those jobs programs?”
The problem with Obama is that he’s content to substitute signposts for real things. He’s in love with abstractions and with the sound of his own voice, and blind to the notion that speeches should convey real messages about real issues in real America, where millions of real people are unemployed because of an economic disaster that wouldn’t have happened without the reckless policies of the very characters Obama chose to revitalize the economy, including Bill Daley, the former JP Morgan executive and new White House Chief of Staff.
It’s as if Obama is Morpheus in The Matrix, asking us to choose between red pill (reality) and the blue (illusion). Except that the president is unambiguously urging us to eat the blue, to keep the desert of the real at bay.
Obama wants us to mind our manners and keep our language civil, but to what end? Are we supposed to not remind him that he’s done next to nothing to oppose Republicans who insist that lowering taxes, cutting aid to the poor and outsourcing jobs will restore America to health? Should we ignore the indiscriminate sale of assault pistols and rifles, and the fact that those who tote them have already rejected the notion that civility solves problems?
It seems there are two Obamas — the eloquent humanist we voted for in 2008, and the doubletalking post-election pragmatist who is joined at the hip with the people who seek to destroy the middle class and reduce the poor to untouchable status. But there’s really only one, isn’t there?