The problem is, his speeches have always been drivel. I have said this from the start. They have never been inspiring. The only one that seeeeeeeeeeeeeemed to be inspired was the one on race that he delivered when the Jeremiah Wright thing blew up in his face.
But since then, it has been a long stream of straw men, false bravado, and corny corn corn. Combined with a narcissism that stuns.
The banality of his first sentence—“our nation faces a multitude of challenges”—was followed by trite war metaphors about “the battle” against oil “assaulting” our shores, for which “siege” he has a “battle plan.” (Our government declares war promiscuously—on drugs, poverty, cancer, environmental problems, etc.—but never when actually going to war.) After Obama did what is de rigueur—he announced a new commission—he, as usual, attacked George W. Bush. (Chicagoan Obama resembles the fictional baseball player invented by Chicago’s Ring Lardner—Alibi Ike.) Next, he resorted, yet again, to a clumsy and painfully familiar trope that would get him bounced from a junior-high-school debate tournament. He attacked a straw man: “Over the last decade, [the Minerals Management Service] has become emblematic of a failed philosophy that views all regulation with hostility—a philosophy that says corporations should be allowed to play by their own rules and police themselves.” Another banality—“oil is a finite resource”—introduced a weird lament about a problem he has aggravated: “We’re running out of places to drill on land and in shallow water.” He and his party oppose drilling in the tundra of ANWR and in shallower coastal waters.
Then he borrowed his predecessor’s silliness about our “addiction” to fossil fuels. Actually, we need energy for prosperity, we need fossil fuels because there are not and will not soon be sufficient substitutes, and “addiction” is not a synonym for “need.”
Standing forthrightly against “inaction,” he served notice against the blinkered and timid who lack his grit and vision: “The one answer I will not settle for is the idea that this challenge is somehow too big and too difficult to meet. You see, the same thing was said about our ability to produce enough planes and tanks in World War II.” Was it really? By whom? Most Americans then were too busy producing—and flying and driving—planes and tanks to entertain the thought Obama imagines was prevalent.
No speech is complete without treacle about “our children,” so Obama spoke of “our determination to fight for the America we want for our children.” And he said: “We cannot consign our children to this future.” (He meant a future of oil spills. He will consign them a future of paying for trillion-dollar deficits.) He concluded with a mushy truism that is news to no one: “The oil spill is not the last crisis America will face. This nation has known hard times before and we will surely know them again.” Good grief.
“Good grief” is right.
More and more, Obama reminds me of Charlie Brown.