The Secret to Former President Obama's Rhetoric
Rep. Julio Gonzalez, M.D., J.D.
I have given many motivational speeches, many of them political, and yes, some of them partisan. Whenever I do so, I make it a point of speaking to the positives, of identifying laudable common goals and extolling the virtues of their pursuit, and above all, I search for unifying qualities and ideals that make the group stronger while trying to inspire its members to reach for the stars. Rarely, if ever, do I even mention my opponents.
I have also heard countless motivational speeches; again, many of them partisan. In each instance, the speeches that resonate are ones sharing that formula. But yesterday, I saw the speech delivered by Former President Obama to the students of the University of Illinois in Champaign as part of his acceptance of an ethics award. Ostensibly, the Former President used the occasion to deliver a motivational speech to those students assembled about the importance of political involvement and the necessity of voting,except this "motivational" speech was unlike any other I've heard.
Yes, the Former President identified the target audience, in this case the assembled youth, but that's where the similarities with any other motivational speech ended. Instead of lauding a common goal, identifying a positive unifying thread and laying out a road through which to achieve it, Obama immediately threw fear and negativity at the group even as he accused those he identified as its enemy as being the purveyors of fear and divisiveness.
"You have come of age at a time of growing inequality, of fracturing of economic opportunity," Obama told his audience, even though the unemployment rate is lower than it has been in decades and the American economy is growing at a pace not seen in decades. He then went on to list the grievances of his mortal enemy, the Republicans, by saying, "Over the past few decades . . . the politics of division and resentment and paranoia, has unfortunately found a home in the Republican Party." What's more, in an antithesis of the spirit of bipartisanship for which he had called moments earlier, the Former President laid out an attack on the Republican Congress that made it look more like a vilemonster than the partners for which he claimed to be striving:
"This Congress has. . . handed out tax cuts without regard to deficits; slashed the safety nets wherever it could. . . embraced wild conspiracy theories like those surrounding Benghazi, or my birth certificate; rejected science, rejected facts, on things like climate change; embraced a rising absolutism, from a willingness to default on America's debt by not paying our bills to a refusal to even meet, much less consider, a qualified nominee for the Supreme Court because he happened to be nominated by a Democrat President."
In true divisive fashion, nowhere does he suggest that there may be reasons for the positions taken by his opponents:
Perhaps the tax cuts were done in the hopes of spurring on a stagnant economy.
Perhaps the spending cuts were not achievable because the Democrats refused to yield on spending, and perhaps the Republicans were hoping to come back and take another crack at spending the next time around. (Obama himself said during this speech that a legislator cannot turn his back on better; that we should not be aiming for perfect, but better. Is it not possible the Republicans honestly viewed tax cuts in the face of a lack of spending cuts as better for the economy and Americans in general than no tax cuts at all?)
Perhaps there is a validated concern that there was more to Benghazi than the Obama Administration was reporting because the President sent out Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton to recurrently lie about the events that precipitated the attack. (A movie. . . really????)
Perhaps the theory that he was born in Kenya was allowed to fester because the President refused to reveal his birth certificate.
Perhaps the science behind climate change is so flawed and the corruption within the scientific community so visible that the American people are having trouble believing the experts on this one.
Oh, and as far as I know, America has not defaulted on its debt.
And perhaps the Supreme Court nominee of which the President speaks was not confirmed by the Senate not because of the President's party affiliation, but because it took a bet that there would be a better nominee from the next President, particularly on the issue of gun rights; a bet that, amazingly, worked out in the Senate's favor.
Obama never considers these possibilities in his speech. Instead he lets his demeaning implications regarding the balefulness of his opponents purposefully linger.
Here's the thing, if one genuinely believes in bipartisanship and working with one's opponents, one does not paint his opponent's ideas in an evil light. Instead one goes over the opposing ideas, critiques them on substance, and then offers recommendations on how the shared goals can be achieved either through an alternative idea, or through a hybrid proposal. That is not what Obama did here nor has ever done.
The whole thing led me to wonder, was Former President Obama's speech really delivered in a good faith effort at motivating a crop of young adults into voting and engaging in political discourse, or was this a thinly veiled partisan speech designed to motivate Democrats to defeat the evil Republicans? If the former, it was a terrible speech, failing in every count. If the latter, it was grossly inappropriate for a Former President of the United States to make.
Personally, I see the speech as the latter and chastise Former President Obama for having delivered it.
This brings me to the next and most important observation. After all these years, I have finally figured out how Obama can be so partisan while appearing to be neutral. It's a little trick he uses that makes him appear regal and professorial whilehe sharpens his butcher's knife for the allegorical kill. And honestly, I don't even know whether he realizes he's doing it.
What Obama does is to pronounce the evil that must be avoided and then, moments later, engages in that same evil against his opponents. I'll give you a few examples. Oh, and feel free to read these out loud in your best Obama voice and include multiple pauses for effect while you twitch your shoulders and look down at the audience with your lips pursed. Ready?
Our country needs to get past the bipartisan divide since sadly, Republicans have become the harbingers of divisiveness and resentment in America, today.
Is he unifying, or divisive?
Here's another. America must be an example of equal opportunity for all. It must be the beacon that will lead all of us, as Americans, to succeed. This is why we need more women in managerial position because, Lord knows, unless women are leading, unless they are at the helm of the workplace, the world will continue to suppress them.
Is he unifying, or dividing?
One more. We must work towards seeking bipartisan solutions to our economic challenges. We must therefore suppress the Republicans'proclivities of kowtowing to the rich while removing the safety net for hard working Americans like you.
Is he unifying or dividing?
Unquestionably, Former President Obama is intent on injecting himself in national politics for years to come. He will strive to continue to shape national discussions on every topic and attempt to steer our youth towards the Democratic side of the isle while selling them on socialistic principles.
But really, the time for engaging in anti-Obama rhetoric and fostering divisions between us has long past, which is why, if we are all to prosper, if we are to rise to the challenges that lay before us, Obama and his legacy must be resoundingly defeated.
Dr. Julio Gonzalez is an orthopaedic surgeon and lawyer living in Venice, Florida. He is the author of The Federalist Pages and serves in the Florida House of Representatives. He can be reached through www.thefederalistpages.com to arrange a lecture or book signing.