A Defending Crusader…

The best defense is to be good and offensive…or something like that.

The Speech

Posted by Godefroi on February 14, 2008

A fellow blogger (H/T) whose intelligence I respect recently urged me, after I posted some Obama questions, to check out his speech from Wisconsin. And so I have, and while it’s unarguably a fine speech, the troubling concerns I have remain. Anyone interested in why I’m not convinced can find out from my comments after the fold.

Today, the change we seek swept through the Chesapeake and over the Potomac.

I’m still wondering exactly what change it is that we‘re seeking.

We won the state of Maryland. We won the Commonwealth of Virginia. And though we won in Washington D.C., this movement won’t stop until there’s change in Washington. And tonight, we’re on our way.

There’s that nebulous “C” word again. Isn’t a turnover in the White House by definition a change? Change is such a safe slogan – everyone wishes things were different. I know I do. Is Obama going to bring about the kind of changes that I would like to see?

Here’s another look at that word: Did Castro bring CHANGE to Cuba? Did Stalin bring CHANGE to Russia? Did Mao bring CHANGE to China? Obviously, yes. My reticence is this: is there a single demagogue in recent history that brought POSITIVE change?

But we know how much farther we have to go.

We know it takes more than one night – or even one election – to overcome decades of money and the influence; bitter partisanship and petty bickering that’s shut you out, let you down and told you to settle.

Let’s be honest here. Senator Obama cut his political teeth in Chicago, home of what is arguably the most famously efficient-yet-corrupt political machine in the nation. Are we really expected to believe that he didn’t absorb any of that? He’s going to succeed without money or its influence?

We know our road will not be easy.

But we also know that at this moment the cynics can no longer say our hope is false.

Now who’s being divisive? Simply because we didn’t think he would (or more probably, shoud) be the Presidential nominee, we’re “cynics”? This from the man who’s going to bring UNITY to the U.S?

We have now won east and west, north and south, and across the heartland of this country we love. We have given young people a reason to believe, and brought folks [I think he actually said “the young at heart” rather than “folks”] back to the polls who want to believe again. And we are bringing together Democrats and Independents and Republicans; blacks and whites; Latinos and Asians; small states and big states; Red States and Blue States into a United States of America.

This is the new American majority. This is what change looks like when it happens from the bottom up. And in this election, your voices will be heard.

Again, the painfully non-specific “C” word. And I highly doubt he’s heeded MY voice.

Because at a time when so many people are struggling to keep up with soaring costs in a sluggish economy, we know that the status quo in Washington just won’t do. Not this time. Not this year. We can’t keep playing the same Washington game with the same Washington players and expect a different result – because it’s a game that ordinary Americans are losing.

It’s a game where lobbyists write check after check and Exxon turns record profits, while you pay the price at the pump, and our planet is put at risk. That’s what happens when lobbyists set the agenda, and that’s why they won’t drown out your voices anymore when I am President of the United States of America

Noble sentiments, of course. I’m curious how he’s going to eliminate the power of lobbyists. Is he going to try to get them outlawed?

It’s a game where trade deals like NAFTA ship jobs overseas and force parents to compete with their teenagers to work for minimum wage at Wal-Mart. That’s what happens when the American worker doesn’t have a voice at the negotiating table, when leaders change their positions on trade with the politics of the moment, and that’s why we need a President who will listen to Main Street – not just Wall Street; a President who will stand with workers not just when it’s easy, but when it’s hard.

An advocate for the “worker” (proletariat?). There’s something disturbingly familiar about that language – it’s the rhetoric of all Marxist revolutionaries throughout the 20th century. Not an accusation, but rather an observation.

It’s a game where Democrats and Republicans fail to come together year after year after year, while another mother goes without health care for her sick child. That’s why we have to put an end to the division and distraction in Washington, so that we can unite this nation around a common purpose, a higher purpose.

What is that higher purpose? In 1954, it was decided that “One Nation, Under GOD” defined the higher purpose of the United States. What is Obama’s stance on that front?

It’s a game where the only way for Democrats to look tough on national security is by talking, and acting and voting like Bush-McCain Republicans, while our troops are sent to fight tour after tour of duty in a war that should’ve never been authorized and should’ve never been waged. That’s what happens when we use 9/11 to scare up votes, and that’s why we need to do more than end a war – we need to end the mindset that got us into war.

What mindset is that? Is it the idea that there are a bunch of crazy idiots out there drooling at the chance to detonate a bomb in one of our cities? That there’s a large number of fanatics in the world who hate us, and dream of destroying us and gaining paradise through “martyrdom?” That there’s a segment of our own population that’s actively working to undermine the Judeo-Christian heritage and perspective of our country and replace it with something that would be (right now, at least) unconstitutional? What does Obama propose for heightening our security?

That’s the choice in this primary. It’s about whether we choose to play the game, or whether we choose to end it; it’s change that polls well, or change we can believe in; it’s the past versus the future. And when I’m the Democratic nominee for President – that will be the choice in November.

Again, I’m all for ending the game-playing, posturing, rhetoric and other nonsense, but the question that remains is HOW?

John McCain is an American hero. We honor his service to our nation. But his priorities don’t address the real problems of the American people, because they are bound to the failed policies of the past.

The “real problems” such as? And, YOUR solutions are?

George Bush won’t be on the ballot this November, but his war and his tax cuts for the wealthy will.

Not to be argumentative, but I’m far from wealthy (at least by American standards), and I GREATLY appreciate the tax cuts I’ve benefitted from during this Bush administration.

When I am the nominee, I will offer a clear choice. John McCain won’t be able to say that I ever supported this war in Iraq, because I opposed it from the beginning. Senator McCain said the other day that we might be mired for a hundred years in Iraq, which is reason enough to not give him four years in the White House.

Don’t we still have troops stationed in Korea? Since 1950? I’d have to agree that the likelihood of some kind of policing force being left in Iraq until, and even perhaps into, the 22nd century is relatively high. Is Obama suggesting that we should completely, totally evacuate all our forces from Iraq, and consequences be damned?

If we had chosen a different path, the right path, we could have finished the job in Afghanistan, and put more resources into the fight against bin Laden; and instead of spending hundreds of billions of dollars in Baghdad, we could have put that money into our schools and hospitals, our road and bridges – and that’s what the American people need us to do right now.

Interesting…Obama knows what would have been “the right path”. Armchair quarterback, anyone? Let’s recall that the rationale presented for the war by the Bush administration in every formal government statement about the war was not the destruction of WMDs but the removal of Saddam Hussein, and that 12 of the 23 reasons Congress gave for going to war refer to UN resolutions violated by Saddam Hussein. It sounds to me that rather than doing something different, which is what Bush actually did, Obama would rather go back to the do-nothing policies of the Clinton-Gore era.

And I admired Senator McCain when he stood up and said that it offended his “conscience” to support the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy in a time of war; that he couldn’t support a tax cut where “so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate.” But somewhere along the road to the Republican nomination, the Straight Talk Express lost its wheels, because now he’s all for them.

Well I’m not. We can’t keep spending money that we don’t have in a war that we shouldn’t have fought. We can’t keep mortgaging our children’s future on a mountain of debt. We can’t keep driving a wider and wider gap between the few who are rich and the rest who struggle to keep pace. It’s time to turn the page.

Again, the question is HOW…how will he pay for the new programs he wants to install, when we couldn’t pay for the ones we have even before the war?

We need a new direction in this country. Everywhere I go, I meet Americans who can’t wait another day for change. They’re not just showing up to hear a speech – they need to know that politics can make a difference in their lives, that it’s not too late to reclaim the American Dream.

It’s a dream shared in big cities and small towns; across races, regions and religions – that if you work hard, you can support a family; that if you get sick, there will be health care you can afford; that you can retire with the dignity and security and respect that you have earned; that your kids can get a good education, and young people can go to college even if they’re not rich. That is our common hope. That is the American Dream.


It’s the dream of the father who goes to work before dawn and lies awake at night wondering how he’s going to pay the bills. He needs us to restore fairness to our economy by putting a tax cut into the pockets of working people, and seniors, and struggling homeowners.

$1,000 tax credit per child apparently doesn’t count, to Obama.

It’s the dream of the woman who told me she works the night shift after a full day of college and still can’t afford health care for a sister who’s ill. She needs us to finally come together to make health care affordable and available for every American.

What I hear in this is that Obama plans to FORCE me to pay for the un- or under-insured person’s healthcare. I gave away 14% of my income last year to various charitable organizations, because I want to. It’s not the government’s job to make me pay someone else’s debts. It’s my Biblical responsibility to care for the poor, which I already do. Rather than imposing what would necessarily amount to another or greater tax, why don’t we encourage charitable giving? That kind of transformational societal change I could get behind – assuming, of course, there were plans and actions rather than lip service.

It’s the dream of the senior I met who lost his pension when the company he gave his life to went bankrupt. He doesn’t need bankruptcy laws that protect banks and big lenders. He needs us to protect pensions, not CEO bonuses; and to do what it takes to make sure that the American people can count on Social Security today, tomorrow and forever.

Good luck – every Presidential hopeful for at least the last 20 years has promised to fix SS.

It’s the dream of the teacher who works at Dunkin Donuts after school just to make ends meet. She needs better pay, and more support, and the freedom to do more than just teach to the test. And if her students want to go on to college, they shouldn’t fear decades of debt. That’s why I’ll make college affordable with an annual $4,000 tax credit if you’re willing to do community service, or national service. We will invest in you, but we’ll ask you to invest in your country.

Point, Obama – not a terrible idea.

That is our calling in this campaign. To reaffirm that fundamental belief – I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper – that makes us one people, and one nation. It’s time to stand up and reach for what’s possible, because together, people who love their country can change it.

I’m getting tired of asking this – and this is only the first speech I’ve looked at – CHANGE into what? and how?

Now when I start talking like this, some folks tell me that I’ve got my head in the clouds. That I need a reality check. That we’re still offering false hope. But my own story tells me that in the United States of America, there has never been anything false about hope.

I should not be here today. I was not born into money or status. I was born to a teenage mom in Hawaii, and my dad left us when I was two. But my family gave me love, they gave me education, and most of all they gave me hope – hope that in America, no dream is beyond our grasp if we reach for it, and fight for it, and work for it.

Because hope is not blind optimism. I know how hard it will be to make these changes. I know this because I fought on the streets of Chicago as a community organizer to bring jobs to the jobless in the shadow of a shuttered steel plant. I’ve fought in the courts as a civil rights lawyer to make sure people weren’t denied their rights because of what they looked like or where they came from. I’ve fought in the legislature to take power away from lobbyists. I’ve won some of those fights, but I’ve lost some of them too. I’ve seen good legislation die because good intentions weren’t backed by a mandate for change.

The politics of hope does not mean hoping things come easy. Because nothing worthwhile in this country has ever happened unless somebody, somewhere stood up when it was hard; stood up when they were told – no you can’t, and said yes we can.

Uh, didn’t the Civil War start that way?

And where better to affirm our ideals than here in Wisconsin, where a century ago the progressive movement was born. It was rooted in the principle that the voices of the people can speak louder than special interests; that citizens can be connected to their government and to one another; and that all of us share a common destiny, an American Dream.

Yes we can reclaim that dream.

Yes we can heal this nation.

The voices of the American people have carried us a great distance on this improbable journey, but we have much further to go. Now we carry our message to farms and factories across this state, and to the cities and small towns of Ohio, to the open plains deep in the heart of Texas, and all the way to Democratic National Convention in Denver; it’s the same message we had when we were up, and when were down; that out of many, we are one; that our destiny will not be written for us, but by us; and that we can cast off our doubts and fears and cynicism because our dream will not be deferred; our future will not be denied; and our time for change has come.

Fine demagoguery for the ending. We are the world, kumbaya, blah-blah-blah. Sincerely…it’s a great finish. It’s also all emotional appeal, conspicuously lacking in substance.


2 Responses to “The Speech”

  1. underdog said

    hey .. go read his policy papers at his website.

    your meaningless worthless and irrelavent rant on your pathetique blog will not stop him.


  2. Godefroi said

    Wow…that’s the most intelligent comment I’ve received yet!


    I’ve been over his website, thank you. He still strikes me as an empty suit who surrounds himself with black-supremacist and anti-semitic trash.

    Apology accepted.

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