I didn’t listen to Barack Obama’s speech at his party’s national convention. I couldn’t. I was too busy surfing through 500 channels of crap on cable TV, stopping every now and then to watch absolutely anything that would keep me away from his speech. I just couldn’t bring myself to listen to his “lofty rhetoric” one more time.
The president can talk, I’ll give him that. But we’ve heard it all before. Many times. And, just between us, I’m tired of it. In 2004, even if you didn’t agree with him politically, you had to admit his speeches were moving. Today, they’re boring.
How many times can we listen to this (seemingly) over-confident politician, who oozes coolness and style, tell us about his big, transformational, bold ideas – ideas about how if we only give him four more years, the sun will shine again in America, promises about he will not rest until every American has a good job, declarations about how he would heal the planet and harness the sun and the wind, assurances about how he will make sure families don’t go broke sending their kids to college, and how he will make life better for the poor and the middle class and the veterans and the downtrodden, grandiosity about how he will save our factories and small businesses and our cities and our farms.
Once this was stirring, rousing stuff. Now, they’re just words — empty, tired words.
Yes, Barack Obama inherited a great big economic mess. He didn’t start the fire. But after four years, he hasn’t put it out, either. Unemployment is still over 8 percent – and if you count people who are so discouraged they have dropped out of the workforce, the rate would be well over 10 percent.
Instead of a new green age with windmills and expensive electric cars that nobody wants, he gave us Solyndra. Five hundred twenty seven million dollars down the drain.
Two-thirds of Americans think we’re on the wrong track.
That’s the reality, and even a masterful orator can’t change those facts.
When I was at CBS News, I knew an executive who was just like Barack Obama. This guy could sell ice to Eskimos. At first, everyone thought he was a genius, a visionary with fresh ideas about television news. But everything he tried failed. And people started to realize all he was good at was talking. That’s when people figured out that lofty ideas get you only so far; that results matter.
Not long after taking office, Barack Obama told an interviewer, “If we can’t get this done in three years, this is going to be a one-term proposition.” At the convention he told a different story. “It will take more than a few years to solve challenges that have built up over decades,” he said. (This reminds me of a story about a famous actor who told a man he had just met at a party that a woman walking across the room was the ugliest woman he had ever seen. When the other fellow angrily said, “That’s my wife!” … the actor replied: ”In that case, I never said it.”)
This is how that executive at CBS News used to talk. He got away with it for a long time. The guy could be charming. He had no qualms telling you it was sunny outside, even though it was midnight and a hurricane was blowing through town.
One day (after he left for a bigger job at another network) his bosses caught on. They got tired of the lofty rhetoric. They wanted results. Empty words wouldn’t cut it anymore. And they fired him.
We’ll soon see if Barack Obama’s bosses have figured him out – or if enough of them are still swooning over the lofty rhetoric.
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