In his excellent daily Web news summary, "The Transom," Ben Domenech says that President Obama's speech at the Portland Museum of Art on Saturday "is likely to be Obama's campaign speech from here on out." He's probably correct, so let's take a look, with an eye to whether it's likely to work.
Obama's template is nothing new. He first repeats his claim as to the catastrophic conditions he inherited from President Bush. "It's hard to remember sometimes how perilous things were when I was sworn in."
So Obama took immediate action "to save the auto industry, to get the banks lending again" and to make sure state and local governments didn't lay off teachers and first responders. Indeed, he moved so fast that "people didn't fully appreciate the scope and magnitude of what got done in those first six months, that first year."
He acknowledged he destroyed millions of jobs and presided over the worst unemployment rates in modern times, which at their best are still more than 60 percent higher than the norm and much worse when you factor in people who have quit looking for work. I mean he said that he "created almost 4 million jobs" and that "we have seen the unemployment rate start ticking down." Companies, he said, "are hiring and investing again."
Obama related that after the inconvenient distraction of saving America from President Bush, he then got about the business of fulfilling his campaign promises. He noted that he unleashed his economy-destroying, pie-in-the-sky green energy projects and war on domestic energy, er, I mean he "followed through on commitments to invest in clean energy and doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars -- and trucks -- in an unprecedented fashion."
I'll say "unprecedented." The standards were not only Draconian and utopian but also imposed through administrative orders when he couldn't get enough votes in Congress to do it democratically.
Moreover, he passed Obamacare, which Americans were obviously clamoring for and remain enraptured by. And, lest we forget despite his incessant reminders, he killed Osama bin Laden, just as surely as if he'd fired the kill shot himself.
He also boasted that he made college more affordable. Perhaps, but not for the people who will actually pay, including the taxpayers, who will have to bear the cost of more unpaid student loans and the higher tuition he's ensured through government subsidies of those loans.
He reminded us that he's thrown a record amount of federal money at education with no positive results. Scratch that; he's "reformed" education.
He allowed as how he ushered in a new era of enlightenment with a new respect for science, by which I'm sure he didn't mean that his administration would a) examine all the scientific evidence on so-called man-made global warming, b) discontinue government subsidies for morally controversial and scientifically dubious embryonic stem cell research and ramp up support for the noncontroversial and already successful adult stem cell research, or c) encourage his soul mates at Planned Parenthood to examine recent peer-reviewed studies showing that significant numbers of women who undergo an abortion suffer mental health problems.
He contrasted his record and vision with those of Republicans. He said that unlike him, Republicans have actually presented a plan that would deal with our deficit and debt crises by implementing economic policies to unleash market forces and stimulate private-sector growth, as well as enacting structural entitlement reforms -- as opposed to smothering the private sector, spending borrowed money in failed efforts to artificially boost aggregate demand through yet more reckless government spending, and utterly ignoring the deficits and debt, with particular emphasis on shunning entitlement reform on the spurious basis that it would harm seniors and the poor.
Excuse my fantasies; he actually said the Republicans have "one message, and that is (they're) going to make sure that we cut people's taxes even more so that by every objective measure our deficit is worse and ... slash government investments that have made this country great, not because it's going to balance the budget, but because it's driven by (their) ideological vision about how government should be."
Wrong again. Republicans want lower tax rates -- income and capital gains -- to help grow the economy, not to steal from the poor, which, in saner times, would be understood as a logical contradiction. And they sure wish he would quit calling income redistribution schemes and reckless Keynesian larks "government investments." What is it with Democratic politicians and the English language?
But if he insists on calling government expenditures for stimulus projects, Obamacare, green energy and education "investments," I'm sure the GOP would ask that we evaluate our return on those investments using empirical -- scientific -- evidence.
President Obama's precious government "investments" are not what has made this country great, but they are helping to destroy those things that have, especially its political and economic freedoms.
So by all means, let's have this debate as we approach November.
David Limbaugh, brother of radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, is an expert in law and politics and author of new book Crimes Against Liberty, the definitive chronicle of Barack Obama's devastating term in office so far.