Aug 28, 2008

Demagogy, Change, and Utopian Promises

H.L. Mencken was right when he defined a demagogue as "one who will preach doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots." I might change that definition a little: "one who makes promises he knows can't be fulfilled to TV viewers he knows to be forgetful idiots."

I listened to part of Barack Obama's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention and suggest people should read his speech, rather than just listen to it. Obama promised everything but the moon to the American people, and I was reminded of Fidel Castro as he came to power many years ago.

Obama is a fantastically good speaker whose impassioned public speeches appeal to the emotions, fears, and expectations of many people. Here are a few excerpts of promises made tonight by Obama--unrealistic Utopian promises. Notice that Obama mostly uses the personal pronoun "I" in his promises for change. [Do people no longer remember the old saying, "Out of the frying pan into the fire!" meaning to go from a bad situation to one that's even worse?]
So let me spell out exactly what that change would mean if I am president...

I will cut taxes -- cut taxes -- for 95 percent of all working families. Because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle-class. [How does Obama define "working families" and "middle-class." "Economy like this" also gives him an 'out'. ]

And for the sake of our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, I will set a clear goal as president: in 10 years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East. [Yes, but please tell us how much less energy our country will be using at the end of ten years?]

I'll help our auto companies re-tool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here in America. I'll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars. And I'll invest $150 billion over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy -- wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an investment that will lead to new industries and 5 million new jobs that pay well and can't ever be outsourced. [This paragraph should be re-read a third time! Does Obama have plans to unseat Congress, control wages, run businesses, and add 5 million new jobs to the federal payroll?]

Now is the time to finally meet our moral obligation to provide every child a world-class education... [If w-c implies the best education that money can buy, not every student can or will absorb a w-c education.]

I'll invest in early childhood education. I'll recruit an army of new teachers, and pay them higher salaries and give them more support.... [What's wrong with current teachers? Does Obama really mean an ARMY of new teachers drafted into federal government service?]

Now is the time to finally keep the promise of affordable, accessible health care for every single American. If you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums. [Just like in Canada, where my friend's father would have died because it takes months to get Canadian permission for open-heart surgery. Instead, he came to San Antonio for the surgery.] If you don't, you'll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves. [Get ready for more medical tourism.] And as someone who watched my mother argue with insurance companies while she lay in bed dying of cancer, I will make certain those companies stop discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.

Now is the time to help families with paid sick days and better family leave, because nobody in America should have to choose between keeping their jobs and caring for a sick child or ailing parent. [Who's going to pay? Private companies already are struggling to stay alive while competing with India, China, and other developing countries.]

Now is the time to change our bankruptcy laws, so that your pensions are protected ahead of CEO bonuses.... [Translated: Bankruptcy laws need to be more lenient so that people who have spent themselves into deep debt can be relieved of their promises to pay what they borrowed. Uninsured medical expenses will be used to justify the easing of bankruptcy laws, although the changes will apply to every debtor who simply bought too much using their credit card.]

1 comment:

Lee said...

I live a few miles from Kennedy Space center. Obama gave a speech at the local community college 2 weeks ago. He promised us the moon too.