When Harry Truman was whistle-stopping his way into political history en route to his upset of Thomas Dewey in the 1948 presidential election, he used many set pieces again and again from the back of his train. And they always worked. One example was to accuse the Republicans of misleading the American people. Harry said that the GOP lived by the philosophy, “If you can’t convince them; confuse them.”
I wonder what Truman would make of his distant Democratic successor in the White House. Would the man known for his plain talking sign off on President Obama’s brand new method of communication – one that would impress even George Orwell?
It might be best called transcendent-speak – the art of talking above-it-all.
Our president describes things like abortion and his approach to national security in language that defines the new administration as kind of “hovering-yet-right-in-the-middle,” with just about everyone else described as finger-pointing partisans and fear-mongering extremists.
Barack Obama’s recent speech about national security, delivered against the backdrop of all things historic and constitutional, was a case in point. By now, we all know that while Mr. Obama was speechifying at the National Archives, former Vice President Dick Cheney was weighing in with an address of his own at the American Enterprise Institute. It was split-screen heaven for policy junkies. I am now waiting for someone to YouTube some sound bites from both men, with the music of “Dueling Banjoes” from the movie Deliverance playing. This analogy works on several levels.
Mr. Cheney, by the way, won that one on points. And don’t even get me started on how well he’d do against Joe “da-bunker’s-dis-way” Biden.
Digging through all the rhetoric in President Obama’s speech – trying to separate wood, hay, and stubble, from yet more wood, hay, and stubble, I found one true thing. He said: “My single most important responsibility as President is to keep the American people safe.” He indicated that it is always on his mind (cue Willie Nelson song here).