Bozell Column: Obama's Stump Speech Myths
Barack Obama has trouble telling the truth.
This is the man who admitted his memoir "Dreams of My Father" was semi-fictional. “For the sake of compression, some of the characters that appear are composites of people, I’ve known, and some events appear out of precise chronology.” Translation: On some pages, I’m taking poetic license with the facts to burnish my image.
The problem is, Obama’s still using poetic license. So where are the reporters to point out where he doesn’t tell the truth? Let’s take just one typical Obama stump speech, on July 5 in Sandusky, Ohio, and look for the fibs and stretches. They’re not hard to find.
1. There are the biographical tall tales. “My grandfather fought in Patton’s army.” In 2009, AP’s Nancy Benac noted that the president’s grandfather, Stanley Dunham, was in a supply and maintenance company, not in combat. That’s noble work, but “fought in Patton’s army” implies something else. Moreover, Benac reported Dunham’s company was assigned to Patton’s army for two months in 1945, and then quoted Obama’s own self-boosting memoir: “Gramps returned from the war never having seen real combat.” Why has Benac been alone in exploring this blatant exaggeration?
2. There are the policy myths. “So when folks said let’s go ahead and let the auto industry go bankrupt, we said no, let’s bet on American workers. Let’s bet on American industries. And now, GM is back on top and Chrysler is moving and Ford is going strong.”
Put aside for a moment that GM being “on top” is a stretch. GM still owes the public $30 billion for the bailout. But the real screamer in that passage is Ford never succumbed to bankruptcy and bailouts, and therefore shouldn’t be included in any boast of any sort of Obama achievements.
Some lines in the speech just sound ridiculous based on the last three and a half years, such as: “I want to balance our budget. I want to reduce our deficit, deal with our debt, but I want to do it in a balanced and responsible way.” This might not be strictly “false” – it’s opinion – but it’s certainly disingenuous. He said the same thing in 2008 and then delivered the biggest trillion-dollar deficits in history.
Obama also refuses to admit the failure of the “stimulus,” claiming in one passage “I do want to rebuild our roads and our bridges” because it would “put a lot of people back to work – and that’s good for the entire economy.” Except it’s demonstrably not true.
3. Then there are the religious myths. "When I first got my job as an organizer for the Catholic churches in Chicago, they taught me that no government program can replace good neighbors and people who care deeply about their communities [and] who are fighting on their behalf."
In how many ways is this deeply insincere? Obama was hired by a Jewish Alinskyite leftist named Jerry Kellman for something called the Developing Communities Project, which did have Catholic support, but Obama’s own memoir described the community organizing work as a chance to “start to build power” – with a “hard-headedness” based on “politics, not religion.”
In his stump speech, Obama’s trying to create two false impressions: (1) that he’s not waging war on the Catholic Church with his HHS mandate to force Catholics to fund contraceptives and sterilization against their conscience, and (2) that he’s some sort of moderate about how government programs couldn’t possibly replace person-to-person private charity. If he were Catholic, he might be excommunicated.
4. Finally there are the campaign myths. Obama bizarrely told the crowd in Sandusky “back in 2008, everybody said we couldn’t do it because we were outspent, we weren’t favored.” Did Obama mean in the primary race? By a slim margin, he outraised Hillary Clinton, who was the early favorite. But this spin is comical if it refers to the general election, where Obama outraised McCain $779 million to $347 million.
Then Obama added: “That first race that I ran as a state senator, Michelle and I, we were going around knocking on doors, passing out leaflets. Nobody gave us a shot. Everybody said, ‘Nobody can pronounce your name, how are you going to win?’” But Obama ran unopposed in 1996 in both the primary and the general election. In a burst of Chicago-style politics, Obama removed his primary opponents (including the incumbent state senator, Alice Palmer) from the ballot by challenging their signatures.
When will the alleged fact-checkers in the news media vet Obama’s stump speech and demand he start telling the truth?