In a September 7 speech at the University of Illinois, departed President Barack Obama reappeared, spouting more of the same empty, pontificating, self-adulatory rhetoric that defined his presidency.
Other than bitter complaints about his successor, Obama’s speech featured his favorite topic — himself. He’s clearly angry that voters rejected his policies — and him personally — by electing President Donald Trump over the woman for whom Obama campaigned. He’s upset that Trump received more black and Hispanic votes in 2016 than Republican Mitt Romney did in 2012, even after Obama said he’d be personally insulted if blacks didn’t vote for Hillary.
Focusing, as usual, on America’s “negatives,” Obama said, “[T]here’s always been another darker aspect to America’s story,” […] “There’s a reason why progress hasn’t been easy and why throughout our history every two steps forward seems to sometimes produce one step back.”
By “one step back,” Obama didn’t mean the resurgence of the American economy for which he tried to take credit, claiming that the economy is doing well because of his policies.
That sounds preposterous, of course, but, upon review, perhaps Obama’s policies did (unwittingly) enable the extraordinary rate at which America’s economy and prosperity are now improving.
During Obama’s first term, congressional Democrats hijacked health care, about one-sixth of the American economy, and saddled Americans with tax increases and massive debt. By imposing onerous, exhausting, red tape-laden regulations throughout his presidency, Obama-appointed bureaucrats discouraged new corporate and entrepreneurial business investments. Obama’s policies ensured that, at times, recovery from the 2008 recession — the slowest American economic recovery since World War II — would be barely perceptible.
Obama’s eight years of oppressive anti-business policies shackled the economy, while new business ideas and continuing technical innovation created a backlog of business and investment opportunities primed for liberation by business-friendly policy changes.
Donald Trump’s election brought the changes needed to unleash the American economy and the progress that exposed and discredited the restrictive, destructive economic policies of the Obama years.
In an essay entitled “The banality of Barack,” writer Julie Kelly characterized Obama’s speech as “the type of vacuous, preening, pretentious, and meaningless soliloquy that once…was accepted as thoughtful… But it was a temper tantrum disguised as a sermon.” Kelly called it “a weary remix of Obama’s Greatest Hits. It’s not just that Obama is petulant and demeaning. It’s not that he gets away with the very name-calling and ridicule that Trump gets blasted for. The bottom line is Obama is a bore.”
In one moment of clarity, though, Obama declared, “It did not start with Donald Trump. He is a symptom, not the cause.”
Then, Obama continued, ironically: “He’s just capitalizing on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years, …fear and anger that’s rooted in our past but it’s also born out of the enormous upheavals that have taken place in your brief lifetimes.”
An honest, less-solipsistic, less-divisive Obama might have expressed just a hint of remorse for stoking his followers’ – and America’s — fear and anger.