“Obama’s State of Confusion Address”

by Jim Longworth

MacMillan defines diversion as “something intended to take someone’s attention away from something you do not want them to concentrate on.” Magicians and illusionists, for example, are masters at creating diversions, and now, it seems, so too is our 44th president. In fact, his latest State of the Union Address was replete with obfuscations and diversions. Here are a few examples.

The President told us that this century began with “a new generation fighting two long and costly wars.” Later in the speech he returned to that theme to brag that, “our combat mission in Afghanistan is over.” Not so says Atlantic correspondent Jim Fallows who claims we actually lost the war in Afghanistan. Speaking with Bill Maher last Friday, Fallows said, “This has been a decade of strategic defeat for the United States. The 2 to 3 trillion dollars we spent in Iraq and Afghanistan might as well have been burned for the good they’ve done.” True, George Bush got us into the Middle East mess and probably should have been tried for war crimes for his role in the deaths of over one million innocent Iraqi civilians, but Obama did nothing to expedite our collective withdrawals from that region, and his delays ran up the totals on casualties and costs. Our Illusionist in Chief also didn’t mention that we spend twice as much on our military as the next fifteen countries com bined.

According to Mr. Fallows that represents 4 percent of our GDP. And, Obama failed to mention that he has bombed seven different countries since taking office. That’s more than any other president in history. Not bad for a man who received the Nobel Peace Prize for his campaign rhetoric then spent the next six years waging war. Nice diversion Mr. President.

Speaking of senseless casualties, I also loved how concerned Mr. Obama seemed to be about gun violence in America, saying, “I’ve mourned with grieving families in Tuscon and Newtown, Boston, Texas, and West Virginia.”

Hey Mr. President, maybe you wouldn’t have had to mourn in all those cities if you had grown a pair after the first massacre occurred and fought hard for a ban on assault weapons.

Obama apologists say that’s because Congress blocked him at every turn. How soon we forget. Truth is that during his first two years in office, Mr. Obama operated with Democrats in control of both legislative chambers. In January of 2009, the House of Representatives began its 111th session with 256 Democrats and 178 Republicans, while the Senate gave the President a 55 to 41 edge. So thanks for directing our attention away from your policy failures by telling us how much you mourned. That’s not just a diversion, that’s an ironic diversion in extremely bad taste.

One of my favorite diversions during the President’s address was when he talked about the economy. “We have risen from the recession freer to write our own future than any nation on earth,” he said, then later added “We reversed the tide of outsourcing and created 11 million new jobs.” I scarcely know where to begin exposing those illusions. First of all, we have not risen out of the recession. The official unemployment rate may have finally fallen below 6 percent but that doesn’t take into consideration those who have given up looking for gainful employment, nor those who are underemployed. Even worse, of the jobs created since 2008, over 60 percent are low wage jobs. But that’s something the Grand Illusionist doesn’t want us to focus on. And don’t get me started on his claim that we have reversed the tide of outsourcing. Many US companies (including one based in the Triad) are continuing to thrive because of outsourcing.

They shutter plants here, reopen them in third world countries, pay slave wages, then import the cheaper goods back into America at about a 2 percent tariff. That compares to countries such as China and India whose tariffs range from 20 percent to 40 percent. The President slipped up last week when he said, “We need strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe.” I guess his diversionary rhetoric was working so well that he figured he could mention something which he should have fixed long ago. Obama has had six years to repeal or reform bad trade pacts including NAFTA, but he has never taken one step in that direction.

Ironically he also spoke of income inequality in his address, something which has grown under his administration, in large part due to his failure to close the loopholes that are allowing companies to send their jobs overseas. Author Bret Stephens observed “The weird thing is to have a President six years into his office suddenly discover that the middle class has been hard hit for the last six years.” And what’s Obama’s solution for narrowing the income gap? He wants to impose about $320 billion in new taxes on people with money. Speaking on “Real Time With Bill Maher,” Stephens offered a warning about that kind of revenue-raising strategy. “French President Hollande came into office proposing a 75 percent super tax on the rich, not so different from what Obama is proposing. What Happened in France? The economy plummeted, and unemployment rose to 10 percent…”

I’m hopeful that most Americans weren’t fooled by Obama’s smoke and mirrors act. After all, according to Nielsen, his was the lowest rated State of the Union address of the past fifteen years. On the other hand, only a true illusionist can make viewers disappear. And speaking of chasing people away, it is interesting to note that ever since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, whenever the President speaks to a joint session, a select number of congressmen are required to relocate to an unknown site, just in case of a disaster. Who would have guessed that Obama’s speech itself was enough of a disaster to warrant the evacuation. !

JIM LONGWORTH is the host of “Triad Today,” airing on Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. on ABC45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 11 a.m. on WMYV (cable channel 15).