Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bad Books

Talking about Stephanopoulos in that last post reminded me that his book about his time in the Clinton administration, All Too Human, was possibly the worst book I've ever finished.

I was assigned it, once upon a time, and aside from being hilariously self-sycophantic (yes, I wouldn't have believed that was possible either) it was in general so poorly written that it was a slow struggle just to finish each page. During the long slog through, I literally thought I might have some kind of a brain disorder that was erasing my ability to read. I thought there was no way a book could be pseudo-high-brow fluff, airport bookstore fodder, while at the same time having syntax and sentence construction subtly impervious to speedy absorbtion.

Turns out I was wrong: it wasn't me, it was him. But then, that's usually the case, isn't it?

The Art of Not Lying**

President Obama addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations yesterday and gave what I found to be a fairly appalling speech -- though, to be sure, not significantly more appalling than his usual obviously deceptive, overly obstreperous, often inane and surprisingly incoherent speeches.

Perhaps the most baldly prevaricative statements came towards the end:

"And I pledge that America will always stand with those who stand up for their dignity and their rights -- for the student who seeks to learn; the voter who demands to be heard; the innocent who longs to be free; the oppressed who yearns to be equal."

"There are basic principles that are universal; there are certain truths which are self-evident -- and the United States of America will never waver in our efforts to stand up for the right of people everywhere to determine their own destiny."

Were the obviously fraudulent Iranian elections that led to weeks of protest in the street, --protest met by that evil regime with murder and intimidation and by our own lofty President Obama with delay and dissembling before weak condemnation -- so long ago that he thinks we have forgotten?

"Always stand"? "Never waver"? It was less than 4 months ago that he himself didn't stand and did waver on precisely those principles! I wonder if he honestly believes his own bullshit or thinks that everyone else is so stupid that he can say whatever he wants, however contradicted by reality his words might be, and get away with it.

He does this kind of thing all the time, on matters great and small. Last Sunday, George Stephanopoulos(fn1) asked him how fining people who don't buy health insurance -- as Obama has said he would do -- is not a tax? Obama said it's just not. Only a liar would say it was. Stephanopoulos cited the Webster's dictionary definition of "tax" in support of his question, to which Obama replied "George, the fact that you looked up Merriam's Dictionary, the definition of tax increase, indicates to me that you're stretching a little bit right now." I see, so when Obama denies that a word means what it means, he is right, not the dictionary. Nor, apparently, is the bill he was defending, which calls the charge a tax, correct. Whatever Obama says at the moment is right. Reality bends to his needs.

Or, later during that same Sunday morning media blitz, when Obama suggested that he is holding off on committing more troops to Afghanistan -- troops that were requested in a strategy document sent to him a month ago by his own chosen general -- because we are "lacking a strategy", he seems to want to imply that Bush screwed up Afghanistan, left us without a goal or a strategy and that Obama must fix that problem before moving on to questions of resources. He must think we are so stupid that we have forgotten his speech of last March (6 months ago!) "announcing a comprehensive, new strategy for Afghanistan". A strategy that marked "the conclusion of a careful policy review that I ordered as soon as I took office." Clearly, he was either lying then about having carefully developed a strategy or he is lying now about not having one. Or, perhaps most likely, both.

I honestly cannot understand how our supposedly bright punditocracy continues to gush over his enormously similar speeches. Yes, he gives a good speech. His cadence and pronunciation, his gestures and pauses: he is a master, no doubt. But given that he gives every speech pretty much the same way, you would think at some point our professional political observers would start paying attention to the actual content of these wonderfully delivered speeches and discover that they are at best full of deception, often contradict previous statements and are usually in conflict with plain reality. Sometimes all at the same time.

** I've had something of a ground-swell of late asking for new posts -- well, as much of a 'ground-swell' as a blog whose highest readership number was barely in the double digits can generate, anyway. So here you go. I've been considering taking up the blog again but am leery. I've got some potential ideas but a lot of other stuff on my plate of late so don't go getting your hopes up. With any luck, this angry rant will turn my few beleaguered readers off to the point that I can retire in peace...

fn1: Can I just note how appalled I am to find "Stephanopoulos" in the spell-check? I hope they have it wrong.