WASHINGTON -- There's a big difference between listening to one of Barack Obama's speeches, as inspiring as they may sound, and carefully reading them and weighing each passage.
There is less there than meets the ear. Maybe it sounds good to the unquestioning mind, but much of his thinking doesn't hold up to even the most cursory scrutiny. Many of his suggestions are disturbing because they would move the country in old directions that have never worked in the past.
He gave a speech about the economy the other day in Titusville, Fla., that contained many of the thoughts he has expressed repeatedly over the course of this campaign. But they raise obvious questions that cry out to be asked. He is fond of dropping "the Great Depression" into his speeches, such as when he says, "We've seen more foreclosures than at any time since the Great Depression" -- as if to suggest the country is in a depression.
But we are not. We are in the midst of a slowdown, but our economy is still growing by nearly 2 percent a year in the second quarter. He doesn't mention this in his speeches because he wants people to believe things are worse than they are.
He does not understand the larger technological forces that are driving structural economic changes in this country. He acknowledges that there are "fundamental changes in our economy" but he does not understand what they are.
He says the economy is suffering and jobs are being lost because "Over the last few decades, revolutions in technology and communication have made it so that corporations can send good jobs wherever there's an Internet connection." In fact, that technology has enabled our country to produce and sell more goods and services with fewer workers, and has made us more competitive in the global marketplace.
The U.S. Commerce Department reported last week that we are selling more made-in-America manufactured goods abroad than ever before, that the trade deficit has fallen, and that we have a trade surplus with all of our free-trade-agreement partners. That's right, the same trade agreements that Obama says he opposes and that have been bad for our country.
Obama likes to point the finger of blame for our economic ills, but he's careful to leave out the people who are in part to blame because he wants their votes.
Take, for example, the housing-mortgage debacle. Who's to blame for that? Well, he says, "When a reckless few game the system, as we've seen in this housing crisis, millions suffer and we're all affected."
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