Wednesday, July 29, 2009

When Rhetoric No Longer Works

It is very simple, politically at least, in the case of President Obama and his tumbling numbers in light of the people’s genuine and legitimate concerns about health care “reform”. Mr. Obama has offered little more than rhetoric in defense of undefined and unqualified “reform”, and voters are beginning to see through it – and him. After all, how much can a man know and define what he wants if he leaves sticky details to another; in this case, the Congress? In defense of “reform” and lacking any hard information, Mr. Obama has offered little more than rhetoric (45 million Americans are without health insurance, for instance. A big number, but lacking definition and qualification). And when the polls and job approval ratings numbers begin to fall as they have, Mr. Obama turns to rhetoric in self-defense.

Intangibles are easy to defend because there is nothing tangible to point to, no hard numbers or sound data. Intangibles are most often emotional and, thus, difficult to refute even as they are so broadly defined. For instance, former VP and former US senator and former tobacco farmer Al Gore seemed fond of sharing with the nation his feelings about tobacco use following his sister’s death from lung cancer even though he continued to benefit financially from tobacco for years after her death. Well, who is going to argue with a man who still grieves the loss of a sibling? Indeed, who can? The one tangible argument in that sea of intangibles, however, is simply this: there is no cure for cancer because its cause is indeterminate. Not everyone is going to battle cancer, and not all smokers will die from lung cancer or even emphysema. Not that tobacco consumption can be a healthy endeavor, but it is hard to ignore 70- and 80-year-olds who have been using tobacco in one form or another since their teenage years.

Because President Obama has nothing tangible to hold onto during this challenging time in his administration, he has returned to the campaign trail in the sense that he is reminding voters that things would not be where and what they are had it not been for the Bush administration. It is as if he is still trying to convince us that President Bush is still running for office, while asking Americans to disregard his own lack of leadership in the health care “reform” debates, his own lack of substantial input. In his rhetoric, Obama is still attempting to demonize rich people in general and Mr. Bush specifically and offering nothing of substance to the debate. Democratic Party strategist Liz Chadderdon said the strategy of blaming the previous team has been effective. "I think Bush-bashing has been alive and well since '07 and, since it keeps working, why not use it?" she said. "Voters have short memories. The administration needs to remind people that things were way worse over the last four years than in the last six months." (Washington Times, July 29, 2009, Joseph Curl)

“Way worse” is relative. Look at a cumulative deficit of $500 billion over the course of 8 years verses 6 months. It is apparently President Bush’s fault that President Obama took a $500 billion deficit and doubled it in the first 6 months of his administration by rhetorically demanding, and getting, a $787 billion “stimulus” package passed by congressional Democrats with a substantial majority that was nothing but rhetoric and has produced nothing but intangibles. It is a very “feel good about progress” measure that has produced virtually nothing since its inception.

It is apparently Mr. Bush’s fault that the US economy continues to shed jobs at a rate of roughly half a million per month, but the Congress – at the insistence of the president – is spending money as if plenty of taxpayers are still on the rolls. Of course we’re still in the throes of residual effects of a harsh recession, but reaching back for rhetoric (intangibles) instead of moving forward toward hard and fast solutions (tangibles) is all this US president apparently has at his disposal. That it is politically effective and used purely for political gain speaks volumes about this president’s call for “change” when it is nothing more than simply more of the same: whatever it takes to get through the next election cycle.

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