October 3 2012

A Tale of Two Speeches: The President's "Other" Race Speech, and Joe Biden on Truth Serum

Charlotte Hays

There were two speeches being talked about yesterday: Vice President Joe Biden’s “burial of the middle class” speech and what is being called “Obama’s other race speech,” a tape of President Obama addressing a black audience in 2007.

Let’s start at the top of the ticket with the speech unearthed by the Daily Caller and aired last night on Hannity. I must say that my first reaction was: What’s the big deal?

Sure, then-Senator Obama was effusive about his admiration for and closeness to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. But we all knew that. Sean Hannity made a fuss over the president’s obviously feigned, g-droppin’ “black” speaking patterns. It’s the same way Hillary Clinton has spoken to black audiences. Having covered politics in New Orleans and watched preppie, white candidates in Brooks Brothers suits attempt this, I just wasn’t that shocked. Politicians do this all the time, folks. BUT…

If you read what the president said, however, it's dynamite. There's no nice way to say this: the man who would soon be president of the United States was peddling hatred. He charged that the U.S. government quickly helped casualties of 9/11 but was less willing to help Katrina victims because many of them are black Americans. This isn’t true, and it is despicable to say so.

Hannity didn’t play what appears from the story in the Daily Caller to be a key portion. Tell me this isn’t hate speech:

The spine of Obama’s speech is a parable about a pregnant woman shot in the stomach during the 1992 Los Angeles riots. The baby is born with a bullet in her arm, which doctors successfully remove. That bullet, Obama explains, is a metaphor for the problems facing black America, namely racism. (At a similar speech he gave in April of 2007 at the First AME Church in Los Angeles to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the riots, according to a church member who was there, Obama described the slug as, “the bullet of slavery and Jim Crow.”)

At least 53 people were killed during the chaos in Los Angeles, many of them targeted by mobs because of their skin color. But Obama does not describe the riots as an expression of racism, but rather as the result of it. The burning and shooting and looting, he explains, amounted to “Los Angeles expressing a lingering, ongoing, pervasive legacy, a tragic legacy out of the tragic history of this country, a history this country has never fully come to terms with.”

And with that, Obama pivots to his central point: The Los Angeles riots and Hurricane Katrina have racism in common. “The federal response after Katrina was similar to the response we saw after the riots in LA,” he thunders from the podium. “People in Washington, they wake up, they’re surprised: ‘There’s poverty in our midst! Folks are frustrated! Black people angry!’ Then there’s gonna be some panels, and hearings, and there are commissions and there are reports, and then there’s some aid money, although we don’t always know where it’s going — it can’t seem to get to the people who need it — and nothin’ really changes, except the news coverage quiets down and Anderson Cooper is on to something else.”

So this is what President Obama thinks of the nation he would soon lead. But it gets worse. The president goes on--in an unscripted moment, always dangerous for Barack Obama--to make an outrageous claim. He says in the speech that the Stafford Act, which requires that people seeking money from it provide a 10 percent match, was waived for 9/11 but, because of racism, not Katrina.

The Daily Caller sums up what is wrong with this:

It's a remarkable moment, and not just for its resemblance to Kayne West’s famous claim that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” but also because of its basic dishonesty. By January of 2007, six months before Obama’s Hampton speech, the federal government had sent at least $110 billion to areas damaged by Katrina. Compare this to the mere $20 billion that the Bush administration pledged to New York City after Sept. 11.

Moreover, the federal government did at times waive the Stafford Act during its reconstruction efforts. On May 25, 2007, just weeks before the speech, the Bush administration sent an additional $6.9 billion to Katrina-affected areas with no strings attached.

As a sitting United States Senator, Obama must have been aware of this. And yet he spent 36 minutes at the pulpit telling a mostly black audience that the U.S. government doesn’t like them because they’re black.

In the second noteworthy speech, Joe Biden allowed the truth to escape from his lips. He said that the middle class “has been buried the last four years.” No kidding, Mr. Biden. The Obama administration has pursued ideological policies that have made it hard for the middle class to get and keep the very thing that makes one middle class: a decent job.  Of, course, Biden followed up his moment of truth with an untruth—that Mitt Romney intends to raise taxes on the middle class. But unchained Joe's unintended candor is still welcome. The Wall Street Journal notes:  

Obviously what Mr. Biden "meant to say," had he memorized the Obama campaign script, was that "George Bush" buried the middle class with his across-the-board tax cuts.

In our view, Mr. Biden deserves gratitude for having the courage to break the Obama campaign's code of silence on the economy. You're supposed to talk about the economy before Mr. Obama was President and after his re-election. But none dare discuss the four years during his Presidency.

Thanks to Joe Biden, everyone in the Denver debate—challenger, incumbent and moderator—can talk about the economy everyone is living, or buried in, right now.

Over to you, Mitt.

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