Let's compare and contrast the two speeches.
First, there's the sickly-sweet opening salvo of today's address to Regular Joe and Jane, struggling (if they are really lucky) to get by on stagnating wages and precarious employment, as the top .01 percent have sucked up more than 90% of the wealth regained in the seven years since the financial collapse. Obama praises the plebs for having the good grace to be crushed by capitalism and then urges them to pretend that they are co-owners of its cancerous progress:
Hi, everybody. It’s hard to believe, but it was seven years ago this week that one of Wall Street’s biggest investment banks went bankrupt, triggering a meltdown on Wall Street and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. And in the months that followed, millions of Americans lost their jobs, their homes, and the savings they’d worked so hard to build.
Today’s a different story. Over the past five and a half years, our businesses have created more than 13 million new jobs. The unemployment rate is lower than it’s been in over seven years. Manufacturing is growing. Housing is bouncing back. We’ve reduced our deficits by two-thirds. And 16 million more Americans now know the security of health insurance.
This is your progress. It’s because of your hard work and sacrifice that America has come back from crisis faster than almost every other advanced nation on Earth. We remain the safest, strongest bet in the world.
Of course, you might not know all that if you only listened to the bluster of political season, when it’s in the interest of some politicians to paint America as dark and depressing as possible. But I don’t see it that way. I’ve met too many Americans who prove, day in and day out, that this is a place where anything is possible. Yes, we have a lot of work to do to rebuild a middle class that’s had the odds stacked against it now for decades. That’s the thing about America – our work is never finished. We always strive to be better – to perfect ourselves.Now, here's how he truckled to the top .01 percent: the billionaires and CEOs of the most powerful multinational lobby in the world (i.e., the Permanent Ruling Class) on Wednesday:
Seven years ago today was one of the worst days in the history of our economy. If you picked up the Wall Street Journal that morning, you read that the shocks from AIG and Lehman were spreading worldwide. The day before, stocks had suffered their worst loss since 9/11. In the months after, businesses would go bankrupt, millions of Americans would lose their jobs and their homes, and our economy would reach the brink of collapse.
That’s where we were when I became chief executive. Here’s where we are today: Businesses like yours have created more than 13 million new jobs over the past 66 months -– the longest streak of job growth on record. The unemployment rate is lower than it’s been in over seven years. There are more job openings right now than at any time in our history. Housing has bounced back. Household wealth is higher than it was before the recession. We have made enormous strides in both traditional energy sources and clean energy sources while reducing our carbon emissions. And our education system is actually making significant progress with significant gains in reducing the dropout rate, reading scores increasing, math scores increasing. And, by the way, more than 16 million people have health insurance that didn’t have it before.
So this progress is a testament to American business and innovation. It’s a testament to the workers that you employ. But I’m going to take a little credit, too. It’s a testament to some good policy decisions. Soon after we took office, we passed the Recovery Act, rescued our auto industry, worked to rebuild our economy.....(yada yada yada: read the whole mutual masturbatory thing if you haven't eaten recently.)Very similar words in the two speeches, and yet how very differently nuanced. To regular people, Obama is their president, and "progress" belongs to them. To CEOs, he is their Chief Executive, or if you want to be truthful, their Chief Operating Officer. Progress belongs to them. Both the sacrificial lambs and the high priests of finance are part of the same American family living in the O-Zone. In Obama's centrist world, everybody deserves the credit and nobody bears any blame. Especially Obama, who tellingly refers to himself as the royal "we" in his cozy confab with the Masters of the Universe. As he boasted to the bankers back in 2009, he has been the only thing standing between them and the pitchfork-wielding rabble.
As far as regular unwitting Joe and Jane should be concerned, once upon a time a bank suddenly went kaput for no apparent reason and without any deliberate criminal malfeasance by anyone. And then the poor shlubs, the collateral damage, lost everything. Just as miraculously, everything is now A-OK in the O-Zone. Everybody bounced back. Obama unbelievably credits the plutocrats for the pretend rescue of Regular Joe and Jane! He doesn't mention that 33 million people still lack basic health insurance, that the poverty rate is getting worse, and that the recovered jobs are not identical in either salary or security to the ones that were lost, never to return.
The subtext of today's lecture to Regular Joe and Jane is this: if you haven't bounced right back with the help of wealthy people and corporations, then you obviously didn't work hard enough and sacrifice enough. The "folks" that Obama claims to meet on his frenetic, polluting, carbon-spewing, criss-crossing, double-crossing political junkets in Air Force One are all successful entrepreneurs who lifted themselves up by their own bootstraps. Therefore, if you're still stuck on the couch, feeling depressed and poor, your mood is the result not of reality, but of Republicans spreading doom and gloom throughout this great wonderful land of ours. So chin up, Amurkey!
The oligarchs of the O-Zone are never inconvenienced, never shamed, never blamed. The seven-year statute of limitations on their high crimes and misdemeanors has run out. And even when it hasn't, as in the case of the General Motors ignition switch deaths, those responsible are not being held responsible. They're getting kissed with the usual paltry fine (refundable via those tax breaks, forced union concessions and pension-gutting) and an admonishment to behave nicely in the future. If Regular Joe or Jane is dead or maimed because of their shoddy workmanship and an ensuing criminal cover-up, then that is too bad. Because as Vice President Joe Biden constantly brays,"Osama is dead, and General Motors is alive!"
Obama does not once mention the term "wealth inequality" in either of his speeches. As a matter of fact, that term was permanently banned from his lexicon after a brief tryout last year. He is not about to bite the plutocratic hand that has, does, and will continue to feed him handsomely.
The president still commiserates over the pain that temporarily winced the super-rich when the Market crashed seven years ago this month. Unlike clueless Regular Joe and Jane, the rich were forced to read all about the crash they caused in the Wall Street Journal. Obama proclaims it as one of the worst days in the history of "our" economy. But, now that they have fully recovered, they can pat themselves on the back as they kick everybody else in the backside.
"Household wealth," Obama braggingly gushed to the BRT fat cats this week, "is higher than it was before the recession."
Of course it is... for the households of the BRT and the Forbes 400 billionaires. As a matter of fact, America's richest families have sucked up virtually all the wealth regained in "their" recovery, profiting obscenely in the Obama years at the expense of Joe and Jane:
The top 10 percent now hold more than 84 percent of the nation's household wealth, with the Joes and Janes in the bottom half trying to make do with a shockingly meager 0.8 percent of the share:
The racial wealth gap is at its widest since Reagan-era 1989, then got artificially depressed during the Clinton-Bush era subprime mortgage/deregulation bubble, then started increasing again after the stimulus ran out and bipartisan austerity was enacted with Obama's full urging and cooperation in the wake of the 2010 House GOP rout. Now, white families own on average 13 times as much wealth as black families:
I don't know what world Obama is living in, but it certainly isn't ours. The manufacture of an alternate reality is not a Republican thing or a Democratic thing. It's a parallel universe inhabited by the rich and the powerful who own the politicians of both establishment parties.
Facts are stubborn things, as are the liars who deny reality. The O-Zone inhabited by the current White House occupant is the immoral equivalent of the Stand Your Ground law, itself the creation of the same multinationals and oligarchs that the neoliberal Obama so cloyingly serves.
Social psychologist Leon Festinger, the father of Cognitive Dissonance Theory, puts it best:
"Suppose an individual believes something with his whole heart. Suppose he is then presented with unequivocal and undeniable evidence that his belief is wrong: what will happen? The individual will frequently emerge, not only unshaken but even more convinced of the truth of his beliefs than ever before. Indeed, he may even show a new fervor about convincing and converting people."Obama is such a true believer in the Market as the cure for what ails us, rather than the disease that threatens to kill us, that he rashly told the plutocrats at the BRT that he will complete the corporate coup known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership by the end of the year. His vow of fealty to the plundering multinationals:
There are going to be unprecedented protections for labor standards and environmental standards, but also for IP protection, also for making sure that when any company here makes an investment, that they’re not being disadvantaged but are instead being treated like domestic companies for commercial purposes.This was a not-so-veiled reference to Investor State Dispute Tribunals, in which a corporation replaces a sovereign judicial system to rule, mainly in secret, for the rights of corporations over the rights of citizens. Big Tobacco, for example, would have the right to run roughshod over laws which prevent sales of cigarettes to children in countries like Malaysia. The poor would have to fork over any alleged profit losses to the billionaires being thwarted in their desire to kill poor children with their poisons.
And so the notion here is, is that we’ve got 11 nations who represent the fastest-growing, most populous part of the world buying into a high-standards trade deal that allows us and your companies on a consistent basis to compete.
The word "investment" as used by Obama and the rest of the elite political class is simply a euphemism for wealth extraction and plunder. Investment is a means for the rich to get richer off the labor and assets of the poor and working classes. It is not only criminal. It is a form of insanity.
And as all too scarily evidenced by the other night's marathon performance by the GOP candidates vying to replace Obama in the White House, psychopathy has not only gone mainstream, it is viewed as a necessary tool for the survival of the richest and all those who serve them.