This year we come to find out that not only has the Temp Emp not even written the speech himself, the designated populist theme is so phony that the designated hack had to go on an all-night drinking binge before he could pull it off. The speechwriter actually admits to one snort of pricey single malt Scotch over the course of his nocturnal writing marathon. That story is as old as the one about the drunk driver pleading that he only had one beer before careening the wrong way down the interstate at 100 mph.
The New York Times story about the speech story is as grotesquely phony as the actual speech itself promises to be:
One night last week Cody Keenan, the chief White House speechwriter President Obama has christened “Hemingway,” knew he needed help.
Mr. Keenan had spent 15 days holed up in a hotel room in Honolulu as the president vacationed nearby, and seven more in a windowless office in the basement of the West Wing trying to turn a blank computer screen into a 6,000-word State of the Union first draft. The lonesome process had finally gotten to him.
So the burly 34-year-old former high school quarterback left his White House office and trudged in the freezing rain to the nearby apartment of one of his closest friends in the administration, Benjamin J. Rhodes.
What's more bizarre? Ostentatiously reading Harper Lee to an infant, drunk-writing a speech, or claiming that writing propaganda under the influence is a sure-fire way to make the American public feel as fuzzy as you do?It was after midnight, but Mr. Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser and the writer of many of the president’s foreign policy speeches, was up reading “To Kill a Mockingbird” to his 4-week-old daughter. The two men poured two single-malt Scotch whiskies and, with the baby resting quietly, began triage on Mr. Keenan’s prose. By 5 a.m., a more succinct draft was on its way to the president.
In all the policy pronouncements about tax increases on the rich and tax cuts for the middle class, Mr. Obama’s remarks are certain to address the struggles of ordinary Americans in some of the gritty, Everyman prose that has become Mr. Keenan’s trademark.(Okay, it's already time for the first drink and it's not even lunchtime yet.)
“He reminds me of some of the folks I grew up with in the old days in Chicago journalism — those hard-bitten, big-hearted, passionate writers who brought the stories of people to life,” said David Axelrod, a longtime adviser to Mr. Obama and a former newspaper reporter.
("Nobo-o-ody knowsh, How Shy I Am," the hard-bitten Everyman Mike Royko wannabe folksily explained.)Mr. Keenan, who is not shy but did not want to talk about himself on a day when attention is on the president, declined to be interviewed for this article.
Meanwhile, now that we know all about the provenance of Obama's speech, the Times' resident Obama publicist treats us to the usual pre-propaganda propaganda. Peter Baker, apparently sober as befits his job title, nevertheless writes that Barack is "ready to move past hardship."
With the American job market surging to life, President Obama plans to use his State of the Union address on Tuesday night to effectively declare victory over the economic hard times that dominated his first six years in office and advocate using the nation’s healthier finances to tackle long-deferred issues like education and income inequality.All right, I take the "sober" part back. Baker has to be on something in order to gratuitously accept that the nation's finances are "healthy." I think what he meant to write is that the nation's billionaires' finances are twice as healthy. The 80 richest people, nearly half of whom are Americans, now own as much wealth as half the planet. Also, in using the passive "hard times that dominated his first six years of office," Baker implies that Obama himself was not the dominant force in ramming austerity and deficit reduction down our throats. Baker echoes the canard beloved of the ruling class: that the economic meltdown was a natural disaster, not a plutocrat-made one.
In presenting a series of initiatives aimed at the middle class, Mr. Obama hopes to pivot finally from the politics of adversity and austerity that have frustrated him for much of his tenure. But coming off a midterm election defeat that handed full control of Congress to Republicans, the president faces long odds in actually enacting his agenda and in essence is trying to frame the debate for his remaining time in power and for the emerging 2016 contest to succeed him.Again with the Frankenstein austerity monster, for which Baker glibly grants Obama absolution for creating. The horrific monster of wealth inequality, which has grown ever larger during Obama's complicit tenure, apparently is "frustrating" the president at this late date. The country doesn't approve. So Obama is cast as a wounded warrior by the Times, rather than ordinary people being cast as the victims of his policies.
“Over the last six years, we have been weighed down by the legacy of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression,” Mr. Obama said in a video posted on the White House website, previewing his State of the Union address. “And because of the incredible grit and resilience of the American people, America is now in a position to really turn the page.”While you're taking your second, third or fourth drink of the day, ponder those semantics. What Obama essentially says here is that austerity worked. And since "we" have now suffered enough, in his estimation, he will now throw you a few populist crumbs. He's ready to turn the page, knowing full well that the mean old Republican librarian will stomp down on his hand before he can even take his book of forbidden magic down from the shelf. The cynicism is breathtaking, and utterly predictable.
Of course, the temporary uptick in poll numbers for the Temp Emp after his speech will make it easier for him to sell his real agenda to the newly propagandized. Instead of lobbying Congress to pass tax reform and other sweeteners to placate the base, Obama will immediately start whipping for the corporate coups known as "trade" deals. With Democratic brains softened by visions of free community college tuition and make-believe taxes on the ultra-rich (who, tellingly, are not at all howling with rage over this presidential rhetoric), the White House will go on full plutocratic attack. From The Hill:
President Obama is tasking every member of his Cabinet to round up votes from Democrats for fast-track negotiating power, which would give Obama leverage to complete trade negotiations by preventing Congress from amending his agreements.
About 80 House Democrats have been targeted in the effort, and Cabinet members are divvying up those names based on their personal relationships with the members.
The rest of the House Democratic Caucus, which consists of about 100 members, are seen as likely “no” votes.
The White House is making the push in part because of pressure from congressional Republicans.Obama hilariously will try to claim that the Trans Pacific Partnership and its evil twin, TAFTA (Europe) would protect American workers and the environment. Mere mortals, though, are not being allowed to see the actual details, which are being negotiated behind closed doors by the corporations benefiting from them.
His actual policy goal is in direct contradiction to his rhetorical strategy. A new report from Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch reveals that trade deals have increased wealth disparity, aggravated global poverty, driven down wages and destroyed American jobs. Obama wants fast track authority to literally undermine his own vaunted accomplishments of medical coverage for a few and minor regulations on financial predators.
Just in case your friendly congress critter is falling under the undue influence of Obama's sugar high of a speech and looming charm offensive, here's information on how to contact your reps. Tell them to Just Say No to granting him fast track authority, Just Say No to driving one more lethal stake into the heart of democracy. That heart is barely beating as it is.