Monday, June 10, 2013

New York Times story on JFK takes presidential slap at Obama.

On Saturday the New York Times ran a front page story that featured a look back at two televised speeches made by President John Kennedy that carried the headline " When a President's Words Led to Action".

The story outlined two speeches Kennedy made both on civil rights and the Soviet Union and were called "two of the finest presidential speeches of the 20th century" then went on to add that both "also had immediate results".

The story and the headline is an unmistakable, and well deserved slap at President Obama who, not just as president but throughout his entire political life has always been long on words, most times very long on words, with no action and nothing ever backed up with any results. Or conviction for that matter. 

After 4 1/2 years as president and endless speeches there are still no tangible results to show for anything Obama promised or pledged immediate or otherwise. And for those who want to point to Obamacare kicking in next year, the substitute Obama gave the country after selling out the public option to the health insurance lobby, that is headed for disaster but that's another story.

As for the Times article,the opening sentence is clearly a slap at Obama when it states:  "These days it's hard to imagine any presidential speech changing history".

These days it is. Most of Obama's sycophants in the press and many of his supporters during the Democratic primaries were supporting him for the sake of symbolism,  as if that was a legitimate reason to choose a president. Instead they got cymbalism -- noise designed to get your attention and not much else.

A few paragraphs down the veiled slap at Obama continued when the writer said, " These two speeches (by Kennedy) had something in common that oratory now often misses. They both led quickly and directly to important changes".

The reference to what oratory now misses is also an unmistakable slap at Obama's  mostly empty speeches which in the end accomplish nothing. It was also a slap at  many in the news media who in 2008 swooned over what they called Obama's "soaring rhetoric" as some still do today even  as it becomes apparent that  Obama's supposed soaring oratory has never soared much higher than knee level to anyone really paying attention. And never had anything behind it.

The article went on to quote from the two historic Kennedy speeches back in 1963 as if to remind people what oratory, especially oratory that signified the kind of singular leadership only a president can provide but which was also extremely risky politically, was really like. And  more than words, was also backed up by action.

In the first, Kenney spoke of the need to ratchet down the tensions and threat of  nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union when he said in his speech:

“In the final analysis our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”

This was true soaring rhetoric. Like the  great orators like Thomas Jefferson or Martin Luther King,  Kennedy used 10 cent  words that everyone could understand,  to communicate priceless ideas instead of $10 words to communicate empty ideas with nothing behind them.

A week later in a speech on civil rights Kennedy said, “We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the Scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution,”

He went on to say, “The heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities, whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated.”

This was in 1963 before there was a Civil Rights Act and at a time when Democrats were in the majority in the segregated Jim Crow south.

 Both speeches took on  incredible personal and political risks.

 The speech seeking to ratchet down tensions and the potential for nuclear war with the Soviet Union defied the hawks in the United States and Kennedy's own generals who favored increased escalation. It also defied the right wing at a time when the favored political attack was "soft on communism".

The speech on civil rights was equally courageous at the time and threatened to undermine not only Kennedy's own re-election but his party's control of congress since they dominated the south.

By contrast, Obama takes no political risks, shies away from, and ultimately  caves in to opposition even when they are both in the minority and run contrary to his publicly expressed beliefs, beliefs he almost always denies he ever had after he capitulates,  as in " I never campaigned for the public option".

Most recently Obama made yet another speech about the need to close Gitmo, something he promised he would do in his first year as president during his  presidential campaign five years ago and still has done nothing but talk.  Five years after his promise it is still  all talk and dithering and no action. Even with some prominent Republicans like John McCain and Colin Powell supporting it.

After Sandy Hook Obama made more speeches about gun control, but showed again there was no leadership to go with his words.

While Kennedy made speeches taking strong positions on two of the most contentious and politically risky issues of the day,  and then backed it up with action in spite of fierce opposition, Obama fell flat on his face on simple background checks, an issue that 91%  of the country supported. And simply because, it seems, he had no idea on how to approach the opposition and no powers of persuasion to either make them see it his way, or use his office to arm twist and force the issue his way.

Instead Obama used the same excuse he's been using since he was elected for why he hasn't gotten something done -- that, in his words, everything is hard.

No it isn't hard. For Obama  it may be hard.  But everything is not hard. Especially when you are elected with the biggest congressional majority of any president in 60 years as was the case in 2008, a majority Obama squandered.

The reality is George W. Bush passed more than twice as many bills, including all his damaging tax cuts, with a 52 vote Republican majority in the senate than Obama has been able to do with first a 60 -40 majority and now a 55-45 majority.

The slap at Obama from the New York Times with veiled comparisons which point out the differences between Obama's words coupled with no deeds compared to Kennedy's words coupled with history making deeds was unmistakable. It might be the reason we have not seen nor heard from Obama publicly for more than two days. Which in some ways, is itself historic.









1 comment:

Anonymous said...

An elegant, beautiful post....I was very young when JFK was elected and a teenager in 1963 but I remember those inspiring speeches and enlightening press conferences. I wish todays' Obamazoids had a JFK to watch and listein. They would see a real leader,not one who plays one on television (or DC).