President Barack Obama used a recent commencement address to graduating Marines and Naval officers at the United States Naval Academy as a way to make irrellevant political points and then turn the speech into a contextless smear on military.
The entire transcript is here and despite some boilerplate praise for the military, the speech was another bizarre exercise in the President’s callous use of the nation’s fighting men and women. The speech started with a manipulative warm-up technique.
Soon after, you came to the Yard–and you got quite a welcome. The joy of I-Day. Wonderful haircuts. Stylish eyeglasses. And all that Plebe Year, if you got something wrong, your upperclassmen kindly corrected you–at high volume, at very close range.
There’s a word for this technique in public speaking ; it’s called pandering. It’s the easiest trick in the book, too. You throw in a few phrases that are meaningless to you and totally outside your own experience. If you’re speaking to a group of business executives, you just ask someone to tell you a couple of things the CEO is known for and then you toss that in. “You all remember when Chuck got sick at the company picnic. I guess he shouldn’t have looked at that R-239 request form about the new Splecker Valve before eating!” (Laughter & applause.)
The leader of the free world opens with a few paragraphs of this exact type of faux-insider pandering to warm up the crowd of heroes.
And you’ve proven yourselves physically–a Herndon Climb of two minutes, five seconds. (Applause.) Now that they put the grease back on, no one will ever match your time. (Laughter.) More importantly, last month I welcomed Coach Ken and the team back to the White House because you beat Air Force, you beat Army, and you brought the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy back to Annapolis. (Applause.)
The tone-deaf President who used a Marine as an umbrella rack recently makes a joke about the rain.
With the time I have left–and I know it’s a little wet, but the Superintendent told me that Marines and folks in the Navy don’t mind a little water. (Laughter.)
Then Obama’s speech starts to take a few pointless, political and inappropriate turns. Remember, he’s speaking to young men and women, many of whome are about to head off to serve in combat and their friends and families. This is a commencement, not a press briefing or a campaign stop.
President Obama brings up the sequester as though it weren’t his idea.
And I’ll keep fighting to end those foolish across-the-board budget cuts known as the sequester, which is threatening our readiness.
The President makes reference to the financial crisis slams business with the leftist catch phrase “putting profits before people” and doesn’t mention the “wild risk taking” that went on at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the encouragement to give loans that were polticially correct and financially stupid.
Every day, men and women of talent and skill work in the financial institutions that fund new businesses, and put new families–put families in new homes and help students go to college. But we’ve also seen how the misdeeds of some–wild risk-taking or putting profits before people–sparked a financial crisis and deepened the recession that cost millions of Americans their jobs.
Who’s awesome, though? Politicians.
Every day, elected officials like those on this stage, but also all across the nation, devote themselves to improving our communities and our country.
Except polticians with principles, because integrity can cause cynicism when the President doesn’t get his own way.
But all too often we’ve seen a politics where compromise is rejected as a dirty word, and policies are driven by special interests rather than the national interest. And that breeds a cynicism that threatens our democracy.
Then the President continues to distance himself from the I.R.S. agents who took the President’s talking points on the Tea Party and turned them into policy.
Every day, our civil servants do their jobs with professionalism–protecting our national security and delivering the services that so many Americans expect. But as we’ve seen again in recent days, it only takes the misconduct of a few to further erode the people’s trust in their government. That’s unacceptable to me, and I know it’s unacceptable to you.
None of this–not a speck–added anything useful to the President’s commencement address. He turned an important day for service men and women into a stump speech. Then, as only President Barack Obama can do, he somehow makes it worse.
The President, speaking to a group of military people about to head off to battle the scum of the earth and in a speech just before Memorial Day, uses the occasaion to make a blanket, condescending riff about sexual assaults in the military.
And yet, we must acknowledge that even here, even in our military, we’ve seen how the misconduct of some can have effects that ripple far and wide. In our digital age, a single image from the battlefield of troops falling short of their standards can go viral and endanger our forces and undermine our efforts to achieve security and peace. Likewise, those who commit sexual assault are not only committing a crime, they threaten the trust and discipline that make our military strong. That’s why we have to be determined to stop these crimes, because they’ve got no place in the greatest military on Earth.
Any and all crime in the military, including sexual assault, is obviously not okay. In fact, it’s so obvious that it doesn’t need to be mentioned in a commencement speech, especially since President Barack Obama had just spoken about the issue extensively a few days earlier.
The military are props to the President; window dressing so he make political points with the cameras rolling. It’s something worth considering on a day that we honor our military heroes.