June 20 2013

The President's Speech

Charlotte Hays

I would never seek to tie our silver-tongued president to the verbally-challenged Miss Utah, but a piece on the unfortunate Miss U’s public speaking debacle set me to thinking about our president’s speech this week in Berlin.

The piece (hat tip: Rod Dreher) that set me on this evil path of reflection is by Linda Holmes.

Writing of the questions inevitably posed at beauty pageants, Holmes observes:   

Have you ever seen the part of Miss Congeniality where [all the contestants]  say “world peace” and receive polite applause? The entire reason it’s funny when Sandra Bullock says, “That would be harsher punishment for parole violators, Stan,” is that she’s not supposed to say anything substantive based on her experience. She’s supposed to say “world peace.”

Yep—that was about the level of President Obama’s speech in Berlin. It was a beauty pageant speech. The president voiced platitudes and said absolutely nothing of importance, except one very dangerous thing about reducing our nuclear arsenal in a way that would make us vulnerable to Russia and Iran. The rest was pure beauty pageant contestant.

Aside from the dangerous nuclear proposition, the only content was the president’s call to close Gitmo, which is odd since he has been president for going on five years. Is he going to find a way to close it? If not, hush up, Mr. President. I am beginning to think our leader is a one trick pony: he can campaign but he has trouble moving beyond that.  

In an editorial headlined “Mush from the Wimp” (a Carter era joke), the New York Post writes:

Normally it would be unfair to judge a president’s remarks by their reception rather than by the substance. But not in Obama’s case. Because this is the flip side to the frenzy he generated five years ago, when he went to Berlin as a candidate and spoke to an adoring crowd of 200,000….

In fairness to President Obama, it’s not that his Berlin speech yesterday was any more mushy than the one in 2008. It’s just that the first time around, so many chose not to notice.

The president never bothered to address the genuine ills that cry out for American leadership. Nile Gardner of the Telegraph notes:

There was little in this speech that advances US interests, or makes the world a safer place. Completely missing from Obama’s address was a call for the West to stand up to the rising threat of Islamist militancy, the defence of Christians facing huge levels of persecution and intimidation in the Middle East, strong condemnation of Iran and North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, and any criticism of growing authoritarianism in Russia. The president paid lip service to the NATO alliance, which has proved critical in preserving Europe’s security for over 60 years, but made no call for the alliance to be strengthened in the wake of waning support and investment in Europe.

The president didn't miss an opportunity to diss Americans, however. Speaking in a foreign land, he talked about how dumb we are not to know more foreign languages. In an item on “Monoglot Obama,” Ethan Epstein savors the irony—President Obama speaks no foreign language himself. But did he really need to denigrate us abroad? Je suis en colere, Monsieur le President!

 The Berlin speech was such a fiasco  that even Monsieur le President's best ami--Monsieur le TOTUS--was in open rebellion!

By far the most alarming thing the president said, however, on his swing through Europe was this, in Ireland:

Likening religious schools to segregation--a racist system that forced blacks to attend different schools and use different facilities than whites in the American South--President Barack Obama told a town hall meeting for youth in Belfast, Northern Ireland on Monday that there should not be Catholic and Protestant schools because such schools cause division.

"Because issues like segregated schools and housing, lack of jobs and opportunity--symbols of history that are a source of pride for some and pain for others--these are not tangential to peace; they’re essential to it," said Obama. "If towns remain divided--if Catholics have their schools and buildings, and Protestants have theirs--if we can’t see ourselves in one another, if fear or resentment are allowed to harden, that encourages division. It discourages cooperation.

Religious liberty is already under attack in the U.S. with the HHS contraception mandate. This remark shows what the president thinks of religious schools, which so often outperform the teachers’ union-dominated public schools. They actually educate children—and not, as the president imagines, in hatred but in reading, writing and arithmetic.

Voucher programs, be on guard.

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