States Visited

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Round 2

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

So, it's on to round two and its time to see what Hillary Clinton had to say. I still didn't watch it, though. I'm playing fantasy football for the first time and our draft was last night.

There are different standards of measure for what makes a great speech. Two of the most important standards of measure are the content of what is said and the structure of how it is presented. Ignoring the content, this is a masterpiece in structure. The first step is to say a few things that are true and obvious and is felt by the entire audience, get them on your side:

"…America's greatness is bound up in the lives of the American people – your hard work, your devotion to duty, your love for your children, and your determination to keep going, often in the face of enormous obstacles."

And then you have to stir some emotion within the audience:

"I will always remember the single mom who had adopted two kids with autism. She didn't have health insurance and discovered she had cancer. But she greeted me with her bald head painted with my name on it and asked me to fight for health care for her and her children."

[To digress for just a moment – This anecdote may be true, but it smacks of a lie or, at a minimum, a stretching of the truth. How does a single woman, without health insurance, go about adopting two special needs children? There has to be a lot more to this story.]

Now that we've tugged a few heartstrings and ratcheted up the emotion, lets get down to business:

"I ran for president to renew the promise of America. To rebuild the middle class and sustain the American Dream, to provide the opportunity to those who were willing to work hard and have that work rewarded, to save for college, a home and retirement, to afford the gas and groceries and still have a little left over each month."

She is a deft politician and she has spent a lot of years standing beside a true master of the art. You have to really dig deep to figure out what someone of that skill level is really saying. I'm not making that up. Do you remember Bill Clinton himself, during all of the Lewinsky mess, pointing out that his response to a question depended on the definition and use of the word "is?" At first read that last quote seems innocent enough but there is one VERY important word in there – provide. She ran for president "to provide opportunity to those who were willing to work hard." Is that the job of the president or the government? She wasn't finished with this theme.

"To create a health care system that is universal, high quality, and affordable so that every single parent knows their children will be taken care of."

We can debate about the merits and demerits of universal health care, but that is not what caught my attention in that sentence. It is the second part that gives some insight into how she sees the role of the president. Again, ignoring whether universal health care is a good idea or not, is it the role of the government to put parents in the position to know "their children will be taken care of"? Or should government exist so that parents can put themselves in the position to take care of their children? That subtle, but profound, difference is not an accident. In the 'world as it should be' that they are trying to create, the government takes care of the children 'from preschool to college.'

"To make America once again a nation of immigrants and of laws."

This is politically brilliant. She says something obvious - we were founded as a nation of laws, not of men, and we are a nation of immigrants, not of indigenous people – but it carries a double meaning in today's political environment. What she is implying, but not saying, is that by changing the laws to legalize that which is currently illegal we are being true to our roots. This is a very subtle declaration of amnesty for illegal aliens.

"To restore fiscal sanity to Washington and make our government an instrument of the public good, not of private plunder."

Again, another politically brilliant statement. It starts with a little political garbage – there isn't a politician in Washington, from either party, that thinks spending money on their programs of choice is a bad idea. But she follows that with a really slick attempt to redefine how we see the role of the government. Raising income taxes on the 'rich,' nationalizing private businesses, and putting huge taxes on 'windfall profits' is no longer 'private plunder' it is now part of a government being an instrument of the public good. We will see this again before she finishes as well.

"We need to elect Barack Obama because we need a president who understands that America can't compete in the global economy by padding the pockets of energy speculators while ignoring the workers whose jobs have been shipped overseas. We need a president who understands that we can't solve the problems of global warming by giving windfall profits to the oil companies while ignoring opportunities to invest in the new technologies that will build a green economy."

She actually takes a bit of a chance here because what she really says in the first sentence is 'I know most of you do not have any idea how the futures markets work but you do know that it affects gas prices and you hate paying as much as you are for it, so I can demonize them all I want and you will play along.' It is really a bit of a low blow, but it isn't the most important thing she says in that quote. The most important part has to do with her view of the role of government we mentioned previously when she spoke of the government providing for the care of the children. Here it takes on a bit of a different role – "giving windfall profits to the oil companies." We can debate how and whether the government should address global warming at another time, that is not the issue here, it is her view that the oil companies are not earning those profits in the free market, they are being given, that should raise the alarms. It implies that those profits are not the property of the shareholders but of the government and that the government has the right to distribute them at their will. In her view, and that of Obama, the 'world as it should be' contains a government that functions as a giver and a provider of almost everything.

"You know, America is still around after 232 years because we have risen to every challenge and every new time, changing to be faithful to our values of equal opportunity for all and the common good."

We have risen to every challenge that has come with each generation and we have, at least to this point, done our best to be faithful to our values. But she's thrown in a nice little twist at the end, a couple of them, actually, that perverts that message into something entirely new. First, she added the word 'changing.' This is really subtle, a play on Obama's 'Change we can believe in theme.' You remember; a change to the 'world as it should be.' By itself that really doesn't add anything to what we have already discussed. It is her additional qualifier, "the common good," that is not part of our historic values and might be the most disturbing thing she said all night because of what it reveals about her and how she and the man she is supporting see the 'world as it should be.' That she used that phrase is not an accident. "The common good" has been adopted by those on the far left as an apt description of their progressive values.

A federal republic with separation of powers cannot exist for long in a government operating for the common good. A government that works for the common good only recognizes majority rule – it does what is best for the most – even if that means changing or ignoring the law to do it, minority rights still exist but in name only. There is very little about a government operating for the common good that holds true to the traditional values that made America great. It is a true democracy, and, according to Marx, the first step down the road to socialism and, eventually, communism.

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