On Wednesday, President Obama delivered the commencement address at the Air Force Academy. As with most Obama speeches, it was full of self-congratulation.
As George Will put it, “If you struck from Barack Obama’s vocabulary the first-person singular pronoun, he would fall silent, which would be a mercy to us and a service to him, actually.”
In his speech at the Academy, Obama used the word “I” 36 times. ("Me” was only used a further two times, and some fraction of the 69 instances of “we” were simply aggrandized versions of “I".)
After explaining to the airmen and women that they would face fewer deployments than other recent graduates because of the winding down of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama embarked on a litany of self-defense, cloaked in terms of leadership, almost pathetic for the Commander-in-Chief speaking at a military academy.
Obama said that the US is “leading on global security,” almost amusingly mentioning “reducing our nuclear arsenal with Russia.” You would think he would not want to remind us of the sweet nothings he whispered to former Russian President Medvedev about increased “flexibility” after the 2012 elections.
He said we are leading economically, at a time when his outrageous budget deficits have even Europeans ignoring the US when it comes to being a role model for how to keep a nation from bankruptcy.
He said we’re leading “on behalf of freedom” because of our actions in Libya, where he said we “led from the front,” again an odd reminder of the fact of his “leading from behind” as well as a reminder that thousands are being slaughtered in Syria as the US stands nearly silent.
He said that “there is a new feeling about America (and)…new confidence in our leadership.” Perhaps he has not noticed the results of Pew’s annual survey of opinion of America which, other than in Japan, has generally been sliding during Obama’s presidency.
Perhaps most disingenuous and clever, however, was Obama’s stated support for capitalism, a word which must be difficult for him to utter. He urged the listeners to “(put) aside the tired notion that says our influence has waned or that America is in decline” and then suggested that “we fought our way back (and) created the largest middle class in history and the most prosperous economy the world has ever known.”
The president transitioned this into calling for more “investing,” which is his code for government spending, and to “get on with nation-building here at home.”
Obama went on to a theme of an upcoming “American Century,” but in typical Obama fashion said that it will be “because we have the strongest alliances of any nation.” Even when he said that “no other nation can play the role that we play in global affairs,” that was based on “shaping the global institutions of the 20th century to meet the challenges of the 21st.”
In other words, according to Obama, the US will only be strong because it works through the United Nations, a premier anti-American institution if ever there was one, and because we skip through the fields of foreign affairs holding hands with other nations’ diplomats. That may be Obama’s definition of strength, but it is one which most prior American presidents and others in position of national leadership would not recognize. Indeed, some might consider Obama’s characterization a description of American weakness rather than strength. An interesting message to deliver at a military institution.
It was also amusing to hear the president say that he supports “the liberty of individuals,” getting in a jab at Walmart by saying “we stand with…the entrepreneur who wants to start a business without paying a bribe.” Of course, there were many labor unions whose implicit bribe of campaign contributions earned them waivers from the tyrannical mandates of Obamacare. Cash may not have changed hands, but this administration is no better than the money-grubbers Obama criticized in his speech.
Obama added that he believes in a “simple yet revolutionary idea – there at our founding and in our hearts ever since – that we have it in our power to make the world anew, to make the future what we will.” I doubt this was the conception of Madison and Jefferson. Their goal was not to “make the world anew” but to create a nation in which the powers of the federal government were limited so that people are free to pursue happiness. If our Founders knew that a big government radical like Barack Obama was using them as his stated inspiration and justification for his policies and practices, they would shout out in disapproval.
The Commander-in-Chief is an appropriate speaker at a military academy’s graduation. But this president’s words serve to remind that he is a narcissistic, self-congratulatory, internationalist well outside what many, especially in our military, believe our nation’s leader should be.
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