Saturday, February 6, 2010

Time to channel Honest Abe to fix Obama’s rhetoric/reality gap

By Mary Claire Kendall

President Barack Obama’s challenge to House Republicans in Baltimore to “close the gap between rhetoric and reality”—at the first of what the White House hopes will be monthly confabs, cameras rolling—seems more the product of “projection.” In psychological terms, this means someone who complains about another’s defect is, in reality, only projecting their own shortcomings.

His response to Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) was particularly telling. Price essentially said ‘Republicans have a health care plan (i.e., Price’s plan), yet you say otherwise, most recently in the State of the Union; so what am I supposed to tell my constituents?’ Obama first said, ‘No I didn’t say that; I said this’ in what amounted to a distinction without a difference. Then, Obama further clarified, Republicans need ideas that work and can’t say tort reform is all that’s needed to reform health care. That assertion, of course, does not even vaguely resemble Republicans’ actual legislative proposals.

The State of the Union, as Price hinted, was a veritable treasure trove [1] of Grand Canyon-sized whoppers bearing little resemblance to reality.

Even Speaker Nancy Pelosi “mocked Obama [2] for suggesting that the two measures (House and Senate health bills) are 90 percent similar,” noting they are only “75 per cent the same.” (Washington Post, January 29, 2010)

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) in interviews with local California TV stations following Obama’s State of the Union also honed in sharply on this rhetoric/reality gap, highlighting its flights of “fantasy.” Nunes found the image Obama drew of job creation, given the larger picture of job distress, particularly striking.

“You can see the results,” Obama boasted, “of last year’s investments in clean energy… in the California business that will put a thousand people to work making solar panels.”

Yes, but what, Nunes asks [3], about the over 30,000 residents of his San Joaquin Valley district deprived of their livelihood because of Obama administration environmental policy. In the town of Mendota, alone, joblessness stands at 40 percent. Water in the Central Valley was shut off in early 2009 to save the three-inch long delta smelt, a bait fish, now happily swimming around the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, while thousands of California farmers, and so many others impacted by lost agricultural production, languish without work. That’s the not-so-sunny side of Obama’s handiwork.

Or consider the issue of curbing lobbyist influence. Obama’s State of the Union rhetoric made it seem he’s wearing the white hat. But, since his Inauguration, he’s issued more waivers than ever for “revolving door” candidates and lobbyists.

Then, there’s Obama’s free-trade obfuscation. “We have to seek new markets aggressively, just as our competitors are,” said Obama. “If America sits on the sidelines while other nations sign trade deals, we will lose the chance to create jobs on our shores.” Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) said in Baltimore, if allowed to pass, these free-trade agreements would instantly generate good paying jobs; but that the Democrat majority has bottled them up for years. Yet, Obama conveniently forgets to mention his party’s primary role in depriving Americans of desperately needed FTA-generated jobs.

That glaring oversight makes the blame Obama heaps on Republicans for the nation’s plight as well as less-than-candid representations about so much else, e.g., budget, economy, taxes, all the more stunning—like a gong bell incessantly going off, a bell that sounded loud and clear this week when Obama released his $3.8 trillion FY 2011 budget. As Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), ranking Republican on the House budget committee, said, its “few cosmetic budget maneuvers… give the illusion of restraint.” But the reality is far different: more spending, taxes, deficits ($1.3 trillion in 2011) and debt.

One can only wonder what Honest Abe must think of the man so many breathlessly compared him to not so long ago.

Mary Claire Kendall is a Washington, D.C.-based journalist and screenwriter.

Article originally published in The Daily Caller on Friday, February 5, 2010.

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