Obama’s Acceptance Speech, Deconstructed

We’ve done these line-by-line rebuttals on Obama speeches before, but we can’t stand to do them. We’re up all night, the bald-faced lies he tells are very aggravating to rehash and his speeches are hideously repetitive.

But tonight’s performance can only be fully analyzed line-by-line. Because it was so jam-packed with provably dishonest statements, straw men, inanities and gross pandering that only by digging through it bit by bit can the monstrosity of what this president offers to the public can be laid bare.

That said, while the riposte on offer may have been rancid, the service was sublime. As Karl Rove said after the speech, Obama and his teleprompter make one heck of a team. He can deliver a speech; he probably should have been an actor – after all, his politics would make him fit right in.

And with that, we’ll launch into the sad task of digesting this feculent collation…

Michelle, I love you. The other night, I think the entire country saw just how lucky I am. Malia and Sasha, you make me so proud.but don’t get any ideas, you’re still going to class tomorrow.   And Joe Biden, thank you for being the best Vice President I could ever hope for. Madam Chairwoman, delegates, I accept your nomination for President of the United States.

The first time I addressed this convention in 2004, I was a younger man; a Senate candidate from Illinois who spoke about hope – not blind optimism or wishful thinking, but hope in the face of difficulty; hope in the face of uncertainty; that dogged faith in the future which has pushed this nation forward, even when the odds are great; even when the road is long.

This is piffle. Obama’s 2004 speech was nothing if not blind optimism and wishful thinking. Those were the qualities, together with his smooth delivery, which made him so beloved of Democrats.

Eight years later, that hope has been tested – by the cost of war; by one of the worst economic crises in history; and by political gridlock that’s left us wondering whether it’s still possible to tackle the challenges of our time. I know that campaigns can seem small, and even silly. Trivial things become big distractions.   Serious issues become sound bites.

Trivial things…like the dog on the roof of Mitt Romney’s car? Todd Akin’s dumb statements about rape and pregnancy? Tax returns?  Joe Soptic blaming Romney for his wife dying seven years after Romney had anything to do with the steel plant Soptic was employed by? Those things?

And the truth gets buried under an avalanche of money and advertising. If you’re sick of hearing me approve this message, believe me – so am I. But when all is said and done – when you pick up that ballot to vote – you will face the clearest choice of any time in a generation. Over the next few years, big decisions will be made in Washington, on jobs and the economy; taxes and deficits; energy and education; war and peace – decisions that will have a huge impact on our lives and our children’s lives for decades to come. On every issue, the choice you face won’t be just between two candidates or two parties. It will be a choice between two different paths for America. A choice between two fundamentally different visions for the future.

Well, that much is true. Obama’s convention certainly proved it; at no other time in modern American history has the Democrat Party been so openly hostile to economic freedom and capitalism, or so over-the-top in its militant pro-abortion emphasis. The voters now know that they can choose responsible, limited government which respects individual life or…something else; a collectivist, Godless, nanny-state and declinist America built on cult of personality and the petty distractions Obama cynically decried in his speech’s opening.

Ours is a fight to restore the values that built the largest middle class and the strongest economy the world has ever known; the values my grandfather defended as a soldier in Patton’s Army; the values that drove my grandmother to work on a bomber assembly line while he was gone.

They knew they were part of something larger – a nation that triumphed over fascism and depression; a nation where the most innovative businesses turned out the world’s best products, and everyone shared in the pride and success – from the corner office to the factory floor. My grandparents were given the chance to go to college, buy their first home, and fulfill the basic bargain at the heart of America’s story:   the promise that hard work will pay off; that responsibility will be rewarded; that everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules – from Main Street to Wall Street to Washington, DC.

This might seem a sop to the Greatest Generation, but as we’ll see later on what it really marked was an attempt to attach himself to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which was a curious theme for Obama to pull to his side. Roosevelt is considered one of America’s great presidents, though his tenure in office contained nothing but depression and war. Considering that one could make a serious argument that depression and war is all America has seen thus far under Obama, it’s perhaps understandable he’d like to say he’s the kind of leader FDR was who can take the country out of the mess. But evoking FDR, depression and war is a peculiar way to answer the question whether the country is better off than it was four years ago – after all, FDR had four terms in office and the country’s standard of living was atrocious in all of them.

I ran for President because I saw that basic bargain slipping away. I began my career helping people in the shadow of a shuttered steel mill, at a time when too many good jobs were starting to move overseas. And by 2008, we had seen nearly a decade in which families struggled with costs that kept rising but paychecks that didn’t; racking up more and more debt just to make the mortgage or pay tuition; to put gas in the car or food on the table. And when the house of cards collapsed in the Great Recession, millions of innocent Americans lost their jobs, their homes, and their life savings – a tragedy from which we are still fighting to recover. Now, our friends at the Republican convention were more than happy to talk about everything they think is wrong with America, but they didn’t have much to say about how they’d make it right.   They want your vote, but they don’t want you to know their plan.   And that’s because all they have to offer is the same prescription they’ve had for the last thirty years:

“Have a surplus? Try a tax cut.”

“Deficit too high? Try another.”

“Feel a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations, and call us in the morning!”

More FDR – he’s trying to equate George W. Bush with Herbert Hoover, and Romney with Alf Landon. The problem is that Obama’s Alf Landon was John McCain, and Romney is not Bush.

It’s also a patent lie to say that Romney didn’t offer a plan for bringing the country back to prosperity. He’s been flogging a five-point program for weeks, as Fortune outlined last month

(1) Aggressively promote domestic energy development, especially fossil fuels. (2) Expand the market for U.S. goods overseas by negotiating new trade agreements and standing up to China on intellectual-property and currency issues. (3) Improve workforce skills by transferring job-training programs to the states and going after teachers’ unions, which, he says, stand in the way of school choice and better instruction. (4) Attack the deficit through budget cuts, not tax increases. And (5), reshape the regulatory climate to “encourage and promote small business” rather than swamp it.

Much of Romney’s program has been done before. In fact, after the 1920 election won by Warren Harding, a program of massive budget cuts and deregulation took America out of a rather steep economic depression and unleashed the “Roaring Twenties,” arguably the greatest decade of prosperity and innovation in the history of the country.

To call this the absence of a plan isn’t just a lie, it’s a naked, provable and ridiculous lie. It’s an insult to the voting public and it’s difficult to understand why Obama’s team would have him tell it at the podium. Particularly when, as we’ll see, Obama offers far less in terms of a legitimate alternative in the speech that follows.

Now, I’ve cut taxes for those who need it – middle-class families and small businesses.   But I don’t believe that another round of tax breaks for millionaires will bring good jobs to our shores, or pay down our deficit. I don’t believe that firing teachers or kicking students off financial aid will grow the economy, or help us compete with the scientists and engineers coming out of China. After all that we’ve been through, I don’t believe that rolling back regulations on Wall Street will help the small businesswoman expand, or the laid-off construction worker keep his home.

There is absolutely nothing at all valid in any of this, though it’s true that Obama doesn’t understand that providing an incentive to the investor and entrepreneurial class to put their money to work in the American economy would produce American jobs. One wonders how such an economic illiterate could achieve the office Obama holds, but that’s a story from another election cycle.

We’ve been there, we’ve tried that, and we’re not going back.    We’re moving forward. I won’t pretend the path I’m offering is quick or easy.   I never have.

Quite the opposite. Obama’s path involves pain for the rich and free money for everyone else. That’s very easy, or at least it’s supposed to be.

You didn’t elect me to tell you what you wanted to hear.   You elected me to tell you the truth.   And the truth is, it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades.   It will require common effort, shared responsibility, and the kind of bold, persistent experimentation that Franklin Roosevelt pursued during the only crisis worse than this one.

FDR again, and the Depression again. And the “kind of bold, persistent experimentation” Obama wants to repeat involved putting people like the Schechter Brothers out of business for the sin of running a kosher chicken processing business, or telling a farmer in Kansas how much grain he could grow to feed his cattle, or gathering fatcat oligarchs together in cartels to set industry standards designed to freeze out competition from smaller players in the market.

These draconian examples of policy stupidity turned a bad recession into the worst economic time of the country’s history, and Obama offers a program designed to do the same.

And by the way – those of us who carry on his party’s legacy should remember that not every problem can be remedied with another government program or dictate from Washington. But know this, America:   Our problems can be solved.   Our challenges can be met.   The path we offer may be harder, but it leads to a better place. And I’m asking you to choose that future.

The path Obama offers led to World War II when it was last tried. You can view the state of the world and say we’re not in danger of being drawn into another world war if you like; we would say that an America strong enough to lead the world has proven to keep such an eventuality from coming to pass and it beats depression and decline as a deterrent to adventurism by our enemies.

I’m asking you to rally around a set of goals for your country – goals in manufacturing, energy, education, national security, and the deficit; a real, achievable plan that will lead to new jobs, more opportunity, and rebuild this economy on a stronger foundation.

Would this be a five-year plan?

That’s what we can do in the next four years, and that’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States. We can choose a future where we export more products and outsource fewer jobs. After a decade that was defined by what we bought and borrowed, we’re getting back to basics, and doing what America has always done best:

We’re making things again.

Actually, no. Manufacturing is in the toilet at present, and that fact has been made clear in just the last week.

U.S. manufacturing has shrunk for the third straight month, the worst contraction since July 2009. Key indicators such as new orders, production, backlogged orders, and employment contracted, according to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM). The weakest production index (47.2, down from 51.3 in July) since May 2009, a weak new orders measure (47.1, down from 48 in July) and the lowest employment measure since November 2009 (51.6, down from 52 in July) have been reported.

The traditional American role of leading the world in manufacturing output ended in 2010, when China produced slightly more. For the first time, U.S. output represented less than 20% of the total world figure—coming in at about 18.24%, according to Business Economics.

I’ve met workers in Detroit and Toledo who feared they’d never build another American car.   Today, they can’t build them fast enough, because we reinvented a dying auto industry that’s back on top of the world.

They reinvented it, all right. They bailed out two failing companies at the expense of one relatively healthy one which would have been poised to assume a position of world leadership, and in so doing quashed the possibility that new players could have brought new ideas and new energy to the industry. And one reason they can’t build them fast enough is that their production lines have been shut down.

Like in the case of Obama’s pet car the Chevy Volt, for example.

I’ve worked with business leaders who are bringing jobs back to America – not because our workers make less pay, but because we make better products.   Because we work harder and smarter than anyone else. I’ve signed trade agreements that are helping our companies sell more goods to millions of new customers – goods that are stamped with three proud words:   Made in America. After a decade of decline, this country created over half a million manufacturing jobs in the last two and a half years.

There were 12.03 million manufacturing jobs in the U.S. in April 2009. There were 11.9 million in July 2012. Fact. In Obama’s Great Manufacturing Resurgence, there are still almost double the number of workers in state and local government (21.9 million) than there are in manufacturing.

And now you have a choice: we can give more tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, or we can start rewarding companies that open new plants and train new workers and create new jobs here, in the United States of America. We can help big factories and small businesses double their exports, and if we choose this path, we can create a million new manufacturing jobs in the next four years. You can make that happen. You can choose that future.

How are you going to double those exports, Mr. President? Are you proposing to slash corporate tax rates, which would incentivize global businesses to build their products here rather than in China or India or Brazil? If so, let’s hear such a proposal. If not, what’s your plan?

You can choose the path where we control more of our own energy. After thirty years of inaction, we raised fuel standards so that by the middle of the next decade, cars and trucks will go twice as far on a gallon of gas.

Oh. Well, that answers our previous question. Now we know that Obama plans to snap his fingers and change the laws of economics. He raises CAFE standards and because he does so cars will get more gas mileage. How those cars will achieve his arbitrary numbers is a mere trifle, and he shouldn’t be bothered with that; he wants it to happen, so it will.

Why not demand more than double the gas mileage? Why not demand a ten-fold improvement? We’re being shortchanged, Mr. President!

We’ve doubled our use of renewable energy, and thousands of Americans have jobs today building wind turbines and long-lasting batteries. In the last year alone, we cut oil imports by one million barrels a day – more than any administration in recent history. And today, the United States of America is less dependent on foreign oil than at any time in nearly two decades.

Wind and electric batteries have been colossal money-losers in the last four years, with the bankruptcies and wasted federal incentive dollars to prove it. And while it’s great that oil imports have been cut, that’s a product of oil production on private lands, which Obama can take zero credit for (production on federal lands is actually down; when there was an increase, it was due to the actions of Obama’s predecessor rather than his own) and a reduction in demand borne out of a poor economy.

And gasoline prices absolutely through the roof. Remember, gas was $1.82 a gallon when Obama took office. It’s more than double that now.

Now you have a choice – between a strategy that reverses this progress, or one that builds on it.   We’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration in the last three years, and we’ll open more.   But unlike my opponent, I will not let oil companies write this country’s energy plan, or endanger our coastlines, or collect another $4 billion in corporate welfare from our taxpayers.

No, he lets the communists and Luddites in the Sierra Club write our energy plan while he demonizes oil companies with this risible business of $4 billion in corporate welfare. To address that, let’s consult with Martin Frost, a former Democrat congressman from Texas who is rather obnoxious in his defense of Obama’s policies on other venues.

I’m a supporter of the President’s. I’m concerned that he’s going to lose credibility on this oil and gas issue because he’s not telling the truth entirely. What he is saying is that you need to eliminate four billion dollars worth of tax breaks for major oil companies because major oil companies have obscene profits. The problem with this is that one of the big tax breaks that he’s citing -intangible drilling costs- excuse me -percentage depletion- was repealed by Congress, excuse me, in 1975, 36 years ago, as it affects major oil companies. The only ones that get percentage depletion anymore are domestic independents who drill most of the wells in the United States and employ four million people.

So if Obama is trying to make the public think he’s going to attack ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips and shake them down for their corporate welfare, but to slash that tax break what he’s really going to do is clobber Anadarko Petroleum and Stone Energy and others. One way or the other, though, by wiping out that tax break all he’s going to do is either cause that $4 billion to be passed on to the consumer or, if that can’t be done, cause more drilling to be done in places like Colombia and Angola and less in Texas and Wyoming.

We’re offering a better path – a future where we keep investing in wind and solar and clean coal; where farmers and scientists harness new biofuels to power our cars and trucks; where construction workers build homes and factories that waste less energy; where we develop a hundred year supply of natural gas that’s right beneath our feet. If you choose this path, we can cut our oil imports in half by 2020 and support more than 600,000 new jobs in natural gas alone.

He’s suggesting more Solyndras here, which is incredible. He’s also suggesting algae for energy, which might be a viable source eventually but is nowhere close to it now and certainly won’t be in an Obama second term. And while he’s pulling numbers out of a hat on jobs that might be created in natural gas, his actions to date indicate that if 600,000 natural gas jobs are to be created it would be in spite of his policies rather than due to them. Obama’s administration has floated trial balloon after trial balloon about federalizing regulation of hydraulic fracturing, which has the effect of draining capital out of the industry, and he’s doing nothing to promote demand for natural gas – he’s spent his time pushing electric cars when one would expect he’d be “investing” his Solyndra money in giving tax breaks to producers or purchasers of natural gas-powered vehicles or at the very least pushing to increase natural gas exports. Such policies would be fraught with downsides, but they would at least represent a willingness to think anew.

Obama offers nothing but a rehash of past State of the Union and campaign speeches here. He presents ideas which have already failed. Here he says that another Obama term would be four more years of Solyndras and Beacon Energys; it’s impossible to see how this would help him with persuadable voters.

And yes, my plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet – because climate change is not a hoax. More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke. They’re a threat to our children’s future.

In 2012, Obama chooses to channel Al Gore. He managed to lay off the rising of the oceans this time, but global warming? Now? There may be no better illustration of how utterly tired this man is as a political entity than for him to return to that debunked and devalued prevarication. Has he ever heard of East Anglia?

And in this election, you can do something about it. You can choose a future where more Americans have the chance to gain the skills they need to compete, no matter how old they are or how much money they have.   Education was the gateway to opportunity for me.   It was the gateway for Michelle.   And now more than ever, it is the gateway to a middle-class life. For the first time in a generation, nearly every state has answered our call to raise their standards for teaching and learning.   Some of the worst schools in the country have made real gains in math and reading.   Millions of students are paying less for college today because we finally took on a system that wasted billions of taxpayer dollars on banks and lenders.

Notice how Obama danced around K-12 education reform, nothing of any great value in which has originated at the federal level (it’s Republican governors in red states like Louisiana, Indiana and Ohio who have pioneered school choice and teacher tenure reform), because his audience was choc-a-bloc with NEA and AFT members. Notice also that his takeover of the student loan business – which puts the taxpayer on the hook for a bubble to rival housing in the last decade – is described as eliminating the waste of taxpayer dollars on banks and lenders.

As though that’s where education dollars are being wasted. Not on skyrocketing costs at colleges; on lenders earning interest for risking their money on loans. Instead, Obama has risked YOUR money by taking over student loans.

Don’t tell us this man isn’t a socialist. Non-socialists don’t consider things like profits and interest as “waste.”

And now you have a choice – we can gut education, or we can decide that in the United States of America, no child should have her dreams deferred because of a crowded classroom or a crumbling school.   No family should have to set aside a college acceptance letter because they don’t have the money.

Or maybe they can choose less-expensive colleges and not go into debt. Unlike Obama, who chose the most expensive schools he could find, ran up a debt he would never be able to repay as a community organizer (he “nobly” turned down high-paying jobs after school, as Oscar noted Tuesday night) and carried student loan debt into the U.S. Senate. Our president, who has saddled these kids with $6 trillion of our current $16 trillion national debt, also wants to saddle them with student loans.

This isn’t about the kids, mind you. This is about propping up the higher ed establishment which is monolithically left-wing and has priced itself into the same stratosphere real estate in places like Las Vegas or Naples, Florida or Stockton had prior to the bursting of the housing bubble; Obama knows that the academic community is a key Democrat constituency and it’s only a matter of time before the real world will intrude upon their cozy sinecures as it has in so many other industries. He’s using your tax dollars to prop up their profligate existences; state budgets and competition from non-traditional educational options indicate that the market is going to impose a great deal of creative destruction in that field, but he’ll hold that off for four years if he’s able.

No company should have to look for workers in China because they couldn’t find any with the right skills here at home. Government has a role in this.   But teachers must inspire; principals must lead; parents must instill a thirst for learning, and students, you’ve got to do the work.   And together, I promise you – we can out-educate and out-compete any country on Earth.   Help me recruit 100,000 math and science teachers in the next ten years, and improve early childhood education.   Help give two million workers the chance to learn skills at their community college that will lead directly to a job.   Help us work with colleges and universities to cut in half the growth of tuition costs over the next ten years.   We can meet that goal together.   You can choose that future for America.

How? And why is it the federal government’s business to recruit math and science teachers? Those teachers, if they’re even at public schools, won’t work for Obama; they’ll work for local school districts. Also, once again he’s pulling numbers out of a hat. They’re meaningless. 

In a world of new threats and new challenges, you can choose leadership that has been tested and proven.   Four years ago, I promised to end the war in Iraq.   We did.   I promised to refocus on the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11.   We have.   We’ve blunted the Taliban’s momentum in Afghanistan, and in 2014, our longest war will be over.   A new tower rises above the New York skyline, al Qaeda is on the path to defeat, and Osama bin Laden is dead.

Why is he taking credit for the Freedom Tower? And is it a good idea to talk about blunting the Taliban in Afghanistan when the real threat there seems to be from those who are supposed to be our allies?

Tonight, we pay tribute to the Americans who still serve in harm’s way.   We are forever in debt to a generation whose sacrifice has made this country safer and more respected.   We will never forget you.   And so long as I’m Commander-in-Chief, we will sustain the strongest military the world has ever known.   When you take off the uniform, we will serve you as well as you’ve served us – because no one who fights for this country should have to fight for a job, or a roof over their head, or the care that they need when they come home. Around the world, we’ve strengthened old alliances and forged new coalitions to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.   We’ve reasserted our power across the Pacific and stood up to China on behalf of our workers.   From Burma to Libya to South Sudan, we have advanced the rights and dignity of all human beings – men and women; Christians and Muslims and Jews. But for all the progress we’ve made, challenges remain.   Terrorist plots must be disrupted.   Europe’s crisis must be contained.   Our commitment to Israel’s security must not waver, and neither must our pursuit of peace.   The Iranian government must face a world that stays united against its nuclear ambitions.   The historic change sweeping across the Arab World must be defined not by the iron fist of a dictator or the hate of extremists, but by the hopes and aspirations of ordinary people who are reaching for the same rights that we celebrate today. So now we face a choice.   My opponent and his running mate are new to foreign policy, but from all that we’ve seen and heard, they want to take us back to an era of blustering and blundering that cost America so dearly.

Obama is draping himself in the flag and saluting the troops, which is a bit of opportunism on his part since Romney’s speech didn’t talk about the troops at all. One could see that as a mistake on Romney’s part, but on the other hand it’s smart to leave it alone for fear of Obama then tying Romney to the Bush wars. A lesser evil, if you please.

Of course, since Obama tried to force veterans to pay for their own health care much of this falls flat. And his massive proposals of defense cuts don’t help his narrative much, either.

The equanimity on Israel is notable, and his glossing over of Iran is as well – after all, Obama failed utterly in his first major foreign policy test when he refused to support the millions of Iranians who took to the streets in an effort to win their freedom from the mullahs.

Blustering and blundering, indeed. A reset in Russia? Leading from behind? Christians being crucified in Egypt?

After all, you don’t call Russia our number one enemy – and not al Qaeda – unless you’re still stuck in a Cold War time warp.   You might not be ready for diplomacy with Beijing if you can’t visit the Olympics without insulting our closest ally.   My opponent said it was “tragic” to end the war in Iraq, and he won’t tell us how he’ll end the war in Afghanistan.   I have, and I will.   And while my opponent would spend more money on military hardware that our Joint Chiefs don’t even want, I’ll use the money we’re no longer spending on war to pay down our debt and put more people back to work – rebuilding roads and bridges; schools and runways.   After two wars that have cost us thousands of lives and over a trillion dollars, it’s time to do some nation-building right here at home.

One wonders what nation Obama thinks has the most nuclear missiles pointed in our direction if not Russia. And does he not understand that he insulted that same closest ally when he returned the bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office?

If you really believe, by the way, that Obama will slash defense to pay down the deficit, then you’re certainly gullible enough to vote for him. 

You can choose a future where we reduce our deficit without wrecking our middle class.   Independent analysis shows that my plan would cut our deficits by $4 trillion.   Last summer, I worked with Republicans in Congress to cut $1 trillion in spending – because those of us who believe government can be a force for good should work harder than anyone to reform it, so that it’s leaner, more efficient, and more responsive to the American people. I want to reform the tax code so that it’s simple, fair, and asks the wealthiest households to pay higher taxes on incomes over $250,000 – the same rate we had when Bill Clinton was president; the same rate we had when our economy created nearly 23 million new jobs, the biggest surplus in history, and a lot of millionaires to boot. Now, I’m still eager to reach an agreement based on the principles of my bipartisan debt commission.   No party has a monopoly on wisdom.

He ignored his debt commission. That is unquestionable. And he’s had four years to offer tax reform and refused to do so.

No democracy works without compromise.   But when Governor Romney and his allies in Congress tell us we can somehow lower our deficit by spending trillions more on new tax breaks for the wealthy – well, you do the math.   I refuse to go along with that.   And as long as I’m President, I never will. I refuse to ask middle class families to give up their deductions for owning a home or raising their kids just to pay for another millionaire’s tax cut.   I refuse to ask students to pay more for college; or kick children out of Head Start programs, or eliminate health insurance for millions of Americans who are poor, elderly, or disabled – all so those with the most can pay less. And I will never turn Medicare into a voucher.

In other words, spending and entitlements will not change in any way, shape or form while Obama remains in office.

No American should ever have to spend their golden years at the mercy of insurance companies.   They should retire with the care and dignity they have earned.   Yes, we will reform and strengthen Medicare for the long haul, but we’ll do it by reducing the cost of health care – not by asking seniors to pay thousands of dollars more.   And we will keep the promise of Social Security by taking the responsible steps to strengthen it – not by turning it over to Wall Street. This is the choice we now face.   This is what the election comes down to.   Over and over, we have been told by our opponents that bigger tax cuts and fewer regulations are the only way; that since government can’t do everything, it should do almost nothing.   If you can’t afford health insurance, hope that you don’t get sick.   If a company releases toxic pollution into the air your children breathe, well, that’s just the price of progress.   If you can’t afford to start a business or go to college, take my opponent’s advice and “borrow money from your parents.” You know what?   That’s not who we are.   That’s not what this country’s about.

This was unremarkable pablum until the end, when Obama denigrated small business finance. There is nothing whatsoever funny or preposterous about entrepreneurs tapping friends and family for seed capital – in fact, that is a quite common and quintessentially American practice, and it is absolutely who we are and what the country is about.

Perhaps in that room, full of union bosses and community organizers, the idea of marshalling resources from friendly, non-institutional sources seems exotic. In America at large, however, this was one more in a long line of examples of how out of touch Obama is with the real economy. It was “You didn’t build that.” 

As Americans, we believe we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights – rights that no man or government can take away.   We insist on personal responsibility and we celebrate individual initiative.   We’re not entitled to success.   We have to earn it.   We honor the strivers, the dreamers, the risk-takers who have always been the driving force behind our free enterprise system – the greatest engine of growth and prosperity the world has ever known. But we also believe in something called citizenship – a word at the very heart of our founding, at the very essence of our democracy; the idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another, and to future generations.

Obama’s concept of citizenship involves paying of taxes to fund the government and the acceptance of benefits from that government. That’s it. He’s amazingly uninterested in other facets of citizenship. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to view this speech and his governance and say his definition looks a lot more like what we might call “subjects” than “citizens.”

We believe that when a CEO pays his autoworkers enough to buy the cars that they build, the whole company does better. We believe that when a family can no longer be tricked into signing a mortgage they can’t afford, that family is protected, but so is the value of other people’s homes, and so is the entire economy. We believe that a little girl who’s offered an escape from poverty by a great teacher or a grant for college could become the founder of the next Google, or the scientist who cures cancer, or the President of the United States – and it’s in our power to give her that chance. We know that churches and charities can often make more of a difference than a poverty program alone.

The autoworkers have gotten a lot more than salary to buy the cars they build; they broke the company. And it was Obama and his cronies at ACORN and Fannie and Freddie, among others, who created the bizarre environment by which it would constitute a viable lending practice to write loans to people who could be “tricked into signing a mortgage they can’t afford.” By the way, government regulation and intrusion into the business world would make the founding of the next Google a lot more difficult for that little girl; if you disagree, check the volume of corporate IPO’s over the past four years. 

We don’t want handouts for people who refuse to help themselves, and we don’t want bailouts for banks that break the rules.   We don’t think government can solve all our problems.   But we don’t think that government is the source of all our problems – any more than are welfare recipients, or corporations, or unions, or immigrants, or gays, or any other group we’re told to blame for our troubles. Because we understand that this democracy is ours. We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense.

Who’s blaming gays for our troubles?

As citizens, we understand that America is not about what can be done for us.   It’s about what can be done by us, together, through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government. So you see, the election four years ago wasn’t about me.   It was about you.   My fellow citizens – you were the change. You’re the reason there’s a little girl with a heart disorder in Phoenix who’ll get the surgery she needs because an insurance company can’t limit her coverage.   You did that. You’re the reason a young man in Colorado who never thought he’d be able to afford his dream of earning a medical degree is about to get that chance.   You made that possible. You’re the reason a young immigrant who grew up here and went to school here and pledged allegiance to our flag will no longer be deported from the only country she’s ever called home; why selfless soldiers won’t be kicked out of the military because of who they are or who they love; why thousands of families have finally been able to say to the loved ones who served us so bravely: “Welcome home.” If you turn away now – if you buy into the cynicism that the change we fought for isn’t possible. Well, change will not happen.

This is his answer to “You Did Built That” from last week’s RNC in Tampa. Notice that while the Republicans celebrated the creation of enterprise, Obama celebrates collectivist policy and social engineering. Voters have a clear choice, all right.

If you give up on the idea that your voice can make a difference, then other voices will fill the void: lobbyists and special interests; the people with the $10 million checks who are trying to buy this election and those who are making it harder for you to vote; Washington politicians who want to decide who you can marry, or control health care choices that women should make for themselves. Only you can make sure that doesn’t happen.   Only you have the power to move us forward. I recognize that times have changed since I first spoke to this convention.   The times have changed – and so have I.

I’m no longer just a candidate.   I’m the President.   I know what it means to send young Americans into battle, for I have held in my arms the mothers and fathers of those who didn’t return.   I’ve shared the pain of families who’ve lost their homes, and the frustration of workers who’ve lost their jobs.   If the critics are right that I’ve made all my decisions based on polls, then I must not be very good at reading them.

At the very end of his speech, he’s now finally offering us a justification for why he should be re-elected. He’s got experience. He presents no plan, mind you, or any actual policy proposals beyond throwing out wispy goals with numbers attached to them. But he’s been there for four years so you should re-elect him.

And while I’m proud of what we’ve achieved together, I’m far more mindful of my own failings, knowing exactly what Lincoln meant when he said, “I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.” But as I stand here tonight, I have never been more hopeful about America.

Not because I think I have all the answers. Not because I’m naïve about the magnitude of our challenges. I’m hopeful because of you. The young woman I met at a science fair who won national recognition for her biology research while living with her family at a homeless shelter – she gives me hope.

Hope, after all. He’s not offering it this time; he’s accepting it.

The auto worker who won the lottery after his plant almost closed, but kept coming to work every day, and bought flags for his whole town and one of the cars that he built to surprise his wife – he gives me hope. The family business in Warroad, Minnesota that didn’t lay off a single one of their four thousand employees during this recession, even when their competitors shut down dozens of plants, even when it meant the owners gave up some perks and pay – because they understood their biggest asset was the community and the workers who helped build that business – they give me hope. And I think about the young sailor I met at Walter Reed hospital, still recovering from a grenade attack that would cause him to have his leg amputated above the knee.

Six months ago, I would watch him walk into a White House dinner honoring those who served in Iraq, tall and twenty pounds heavier, dashing in his uniform, with a big grin on his face; sturdy on his new leg.   And I remember how a few months after that I would watch him on a bicycle, racing with his fellow wounded warriors on a sparkling spring day, inspiring other heroes who had just begun the hard path he had traveled. He gives me hope. I don’t know what party these men and women belong to.   I don’t know if they’ll vote for me.   But I know that their spirit defines us.   They remind me, in the words of Scripture, that ours is a “future filled with hope.” And if you share that faith with me – if you share that hope with me – I ask you tonight for your vote. If you reject the notion that this nation’s promise is reserved for the few, your voice must be heard in this election. If you reject the notion that our government is forever beholden to the highest bidder, you need to stand up in this election. If you believe that new plants and factories can dot our landscape; that new energy can power our future; that new schools can provide ladders of opportunity to this nation of dreamers; if you believe in a country where everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules, then I need you to vote this November. America, I never said this journey would be easy, and I won’t promise that now.

He just promised new plants and factories, energy from pixie dust and unicorn farts, ladders for dreamers and a fair shot for all the fair players and fair sharers, and failed to offer so much as a map to Utopia, but he doesn’t promise an easy journey. Of course not.

Yes, our path is harder – but it leads to a better place.   Yes our road is longer – but we travel it together.   We don’t turn back.   We leave no one behind.   We pull each other up.   We draw strength from our victories, and we learn from our mistakes, but we keep our eyes fixed on that distant horizon, knowing that Providence is with us, and that we are surely blessed to be citizens of the greatest nation on Earth. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless these United States.

The audience went wild at this last bit, but as Charles Krauthammer judged the entire speech afterward this was one of the emptiest addresses in memory. There was nothing in it but four more years of failed policies, failed leadership and faded campaign glory.

If this is a speech which can re-elect a president, something fundamental has changed in American politics.

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