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The “Word Cloud” of Barack Obama

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President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech of January 25th does not defy analysis; it invites it. It is basically a reworking of his 2010 SOTU speech, with the threats, leftist ideology, and hysteria muted and recast so as not to cause a panicky rush for the exits. He spoke as someone who had for two years brutally abused a bound captive, and in an attempt to make up for it, offered the victim a giant cone of pink cotton candy in the way of “reconciliation.”

He sounded like MSNBC’s departed Keith Olbermann, heavily sedated.

I was stuck for a title for this commentary, weighing between its current title and one that contained a reference to cotton candy. But “word cloud” better describes the speech. A word cloud is a kind of mosaic of buzz-words or key concepts either smashed together or arranged in some logical format. The best one I can think of at the moment is “http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHdMlT3E7cg,” which is narrated, animated and informative.

The White House brain trust put together its own word cloud for Obama’s speech. It is static but nevertheless informative, “giving greater prominence to words that appear more frequently.” The White House opus is a bewildering jumble of dozens of words that were repeated again and again by Obama; nouns, verbs, adjectives, and conjunctions in various sizes and hues all vie for one’s attention. It is entertainment for the easily amused and the congenitally entranced. However, one could subject Lincoln’s Gettysburg address or any of Churchill’s wartime speeches to the same toss-in-the-air visual word salad and produce the same effect. The White House word cloud means absolutely nothing, serves no purpose, and is a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Its total effect resembles the result of a vocabulary project assigned to kindergarten students by a progressive teacher to see how many words could be glued onto a single sheet of paper. Missing like a deafening silence from the mix-and-match are words that did not frequently occur in Obama’s speech, or not at all: freedom, liberty, capitalism, free markets, totalitarian, control, regulation.

Freedom occurs only once:

And America’s moral example must always shine for all who yearn for freedom and justice and dignity.

Au contraire. Obama’s policies will guarantee that there is no more freedom or justice in America, and there is no dignity in servitude. Who would want to immigrate here, except Muslims, whose creed lends itself perfectly to totalitarian rule?

Liberty does not occur once. Capitalism is nowhere to be found in the text. Invest and investment occur thirteen times, but by “investment” Obama meant government spending in enterprises and programs of his choosing or approval. Market appears twice in conjunction with stock market, and once in reference to creating a market for green energy and green jobs.

Now, clean energy breakthroughs will only translate into clean energy jobs if businesses know there will be a market for what they’re selling. So tonight, I challenge you to join me in setting a new goal: By 2035, 80 percent of America’s electricity will come from clean energy sources.

This is sheer fantasy. By 2035, if the oil industry is destroyed, and the country ground to a halt, those of us still alive will be riding donkeys or ponies or bikes to our government-created green jobs. Or walking. You can bet that by “clean energy sources,” Obama did not mean nuclear power, either.

Obama’s speech was an organized word cloud, ostensibly banal but loaded with political arsenic. The arsenic was the appeal to “pull together” to reach goals deemed by Obama to be worthwhile and unattainable unless Americans just forgot their freedom and fitted the yokes on their own shoulders. It was an attempt to sound centrist, compromising, and accommodating, without being any of those things. Inserted in the flow were key words that appear in the White House word cloud, words that were calculated to elicit a response. And respond the House chamber did, applauding eighty times.

Several marvelous stake-in-the-heart critiques of Obama’s speech have appeared. One of the most interesting is Daniel Greenfield’s “Obama’s State of the Soviet Union” on Canada Free Press. I do not agree with Greenfield that the president’s speech was exclusively crypto-communist; I am certain it was specifically fascist in content and appeal. Fascists, Nazis, and Communists in the past, after all, employed the same rhetorical styles, slogans, patter, and lexicons. Obama does not want to nationalize American businesses and industries. He may “fist” Hugo Chavez in collectivist camaraderie, but his agenda is different. He will allow businesses and industries to remain private, but set their goals.

Most of Greenfield’s piece is a fine, passionate disquisition on the vacuity of Obama’s promises and plagiarized Kennedy-like urgings (“Ask not for your freedom, but what your country can do for you in the way of jobs, education, high-speed rails, etc.”). On the theme of the speech, “Winning the future,” Greenfield has this incriminating revelation about that phrase’s origins:

As usual, the slogan
du jour
comes from the dictionary of the left. “Winning the future” was a common slogan on the left. While it was belatedly used by Newt Gingrich, it was most commonly employed in the 20th century by Communists and the far left. Two-time Lenin Prize winner, Danilo Dolci used it as the theme of one of his addresses. Jesse Jackson made use of it during his presidential campaign. Max Lerner gave a number of talks on “Winning the Future.” Mandela threw it in there. Most notably it was used by Lenin, “Our hopes must be placed on the young. We must win the youth if we are to win the future.”

What an indictment! As though Obama’s “Sputnik moment” was not great enough a clue. How many times must Moe twist Curly’s ears, or slap Larry on the head?

Claudia Rosett apparently grew tired of all the knee-jerk applause.

If I close my eyes and ask what the president outlined this evening, I get visions of 100,000 new (and unionized) engineering and science teachers criss-crossing rural America in windmill-powered, solar-paneled high-speed trains — questing after the three doctors who will still be in private practice once ObamaCare really takes hold.

In “private practice,” and in hiding? Rosett is too optimistic. ObamaCare means to enlist all medical personnel into his army of the future. Draft dodgers, or physicians in private practice, will be eliminated or sent to reeducation camps to get their minds straight. But then Rosett notes:

Two years ago, this was our time, now was our moment. Now, after two years under President Obama, it is no longer our moment, but our “Sputnik moment.” A Sputnik moment is when you suddenly realize your enemy is way out ahead of you. So, when did we fall behind? Does this mean NASA can now forget the Middle East outreach business and carry on sending Americans into space? And why is our government making three-year plans to “double our exports by 2014″? I’m all for trade, but why the targets? Five-year plans, or three-year plans, are for planned economies.

True, and not necessarily for communist ones.

Mark Alexander of The Patriot Post also offers a biting critique of the speech. He offers evidence of Obama’s first priority in an “abbreviated version of the SOTU”:

"I want ... I believe ... I've seen ... I've heard ... I said ... I will be ... I'm asking ... I don't know ... I challenge ... I urge ... I set ... I know ... I'm proposing ... I ask ... I took ... I made ... I would ... I intend ... I've ordered ... I will not ... I've heard ... I am eager ... I'm not ... I'm not ... I'm not ... I am ... I've proposed ... I care ... I recognize ... I'm willing ... I've proposed ... I created ... I don't agree ... I am prepared ... I hear ... I will submit ... I ask ... I will veto ... I will travel ... I call on all ... I know ... I stand..."

I do not think Hitler employed so many forms of “I” in any of his speeches. But all tyrants and wannabe tyrants are naturally narcissistic and obsessive about controlling everything; in short, neurotic. Alexander reminds his readers to keep “in mind that nothing Obama proposed has an authorizing provision in our Constitution.” We, however, occurred 149 times, and us 24. We are a “great nation” because in the past we “pulled together,” and it is incumbent upon us to don the yoke to pull the wreckage across the landscape according to his plan. What caused the wreckage? Not Obama’s policies. The deficits just “happened.”

Now is the time for both sides and both houses of Congress – Democrats and Republicans – to forge a principled compromise that gets the job done. If we make the hard choices now to rein in our deficits, we can make the investments we need to win the future.

Let me take this one step further. We shouldn’t just give our people a government that’s more affordable. We should give them a government that’s more competent and more efficient. We can’t win the future with a government of the past.

What is a “principled compromise”? Principles should not be compromised or adulterated. Those that are, are merely “stances” hiding a pretence. The principles were never there. Republicans may be ready to surrender half a loaf to the Democrats, who have no bread of their own to negotiate. But they and Obama will in the end possess half a loaf, and in a spirit of bipartisan magnanimity, be ready to compromise even further. Follow the syllogism, and see who winds up with the whole loaf.

Who are “we” who regard “our people” as the dependents and wards of government? Note the inadvertent assumption of ownership – by Obama, by Congress, by every bureaucracy. And in what sense should a government be “more competent and efficient”? In taxation, regulation, and guidance? Should Americans want a government that is expert and skillful in stiffing them of their wealth, their liberty, and privacy? And, under ObamaCare, their lives? They should fear such a government.

Excuse us, Mr. President, our future – not yours as a politician – can be “won” with a government of the past that was limited, corralled and restrained in its powers, and which protected and upheld individual rights. That kind of government has not been seen here in perhaps a century and a half. But what exactly were you referring to as a “government of the past”? The Woodrow Wilson administration? FDR’s? Eisenhower’s? JFK’s? Bill Clinton’s? One as “well-intentioned” as theirs, but not nearly as all-encompassing as what you are suggesting by insinuation?

No answer will be forthcoming from Mr. Obama. His meaning is disguised in a word cloud. Fools, believing that Obama’s word cloud is similar to a palm lined with forecasts of the future, will read into his words their hopes for a change from his statist ideology. Leftists, the entitlement class (read Medicare, Social Security, tax and tariff advocates, and others of that sort), career politicians, and gluttons of earmarks will be assured that “the battles of the last two years” will be renewed.

Republican representative Kevin Brady penned a negative wish list in Investor’s Business Daily, “What The President Shouldn’t Say Tonight in The State of the Union.”

I hope the president doesn't apply the word "invest" as a synonym for "spend.”… I hope the president doesn't continue to claim credit for "pulling our economy back from the brink and restoring growth."… I hope the president doesn't claim he "heard the American people" and "got the message" from the November election… I hope that the president doesn't continue to pour billions of dollars into subsidies in an attempt to create green energy jobs or invest in premature technologies, while shutting down proven energy sources… I hope that his words will be matched with deeds. Soaring rhetoric will not restore the American people's confidence in their government. President Obama needs to signal that there has been a serious change in direction, not just another rhetorical pivot.

Brady’s hopes were dashed. The president discussed everything Brady hoped he would not. There will be no serious change in the administration’s direction. The American people, if they have any sense, will not have their “confidence” in government restored, but instead their certainty in its malign purposes buttressed. Brady prefaced his hopes with, “Tonight, this president is at a crossroads.” In terms of his reelection prospects, yes, that is true. But in terms of his agenda, no, he is not at a crossroads. Only his rhetoric has pivoted, not his policies. He is ready to “win the future” by “moving forward as one nation,” just as he was in 2008, 2009, and 2010.

Only those bedazzled and mentally benumbed by his word cloud will believe he is changing direction. They should deconstruct that word cloud and piece together the words to form whole sentences. Then they would see the ominous message contained in the State of the Union.


Cross-posted from Metablog

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