Sunday, July 12, 2009

Monday Musings - Hopeface Op-ed Edition

On Sunday, the Washington Post ran an op-ed bylined, though certainly not written, or even read by, Barack Obama.

What strikes me, in addition to the anticipated demagoguery and disingenuous argumentation, is just how poorly crafted it is. It has no narrative focus, introduces no new ideas, and is a dreadful bore.

The piece scarcely veils it's true purpose, which is to update the talking points w/r/t the stimulus package. So expect it to be hailed as a masterpiece. Excerpts with responses below:

Nearly six months ago, my administration took office amid the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression.

While arguably (though not certifiably) true, it isn't as impressive as it sounds.

The swift and aggressive action we took in those first few months has helped pull our financial system and our economy back from the brink.

The brink of what? Upon which "brink" was our economy, and how could you possibly argue that it no longer resides there?
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was not expected...

When a student (or blogger) uses the passive voice, he does so out of ignorance or indifference. When a communications specialist uses it, he does so to be opaque.

to restore the economy to full health on its own but to provide the boost necessary to stop the free fall.

It has accomplished neither. But if I had to fail at something, I suppose I'd rather frame my failure in terms of stopping free fall than resurrecting health. Nobody can stop a free fall, but one is expected to consult experts when nursing someone back to health. By experts, I don't mean lobbyists.
It was, from the start, a two-year program, and it will steadily save and create jobs as it ramps up over this summer and fall.

How does something that hasn't "ramped up" yet stop a free fall? Also, this sentence, doesn't flow well, and should be broken into two distinct sentences, for the sake of clarity, especially in an opinion editorial - just a thought.

We must let it work the way it's supposed to, with the understanding that in any recession, unemployment tends to recover more slowly than other measures of economic activity.

One time, I asked my (then) 4 year old nephew to go grab a soda from the fridge. I told him I would give him a nickel. He made good, I didn't have the nickel. What ensued did not remotely resemble understanding. Enjoy your Pepsi, Mr. President.

I am confident that the United States of America will weather this economic storm.

I am confident that the writer of this piece has buried the theme in the 4th paragraph.
There are some who say we must wait to meet our greatest challenges.

Strawmen, for example, are fond of saying this.
They favor an incremental approach

You mean, like the approach you just spent multiple paragraphs trying to sell us on?
or believe that doing nothing is somehow an answer.

Nice to see Obama seriously responding to his critics. For posterity, we straw-people wanted to cut the payroll tax. Of course, that would have helped the economy, which would rob us of the moment necessary to meet our greatest challenges.
Now is the time to build a firmer, stronger foundation for growth that not only will withstand future economic storms, but also will help us thrive and compete in a global economy.

Ugh. I'm just gonna fix it myself.

Already, we're making progress on health-care reform that controls costs while ensuring choice and quality, as well as energy legislation that will make clean energy profitable, leading to whole new industries and jobs that cannot be outsourced.

Wait. Why can't they be outsourced? Is Obama's proposed new industry entirely janitorial? He just made that up.
And this week, I'll be talking about how we give our workers the skills they need to compete for these jobs of the future.

If the future jobs can't be outsourced, why should our workers need to compete for them?

In an economy where jobs requiring at least an associate's degree are projected to grow twice as fast as jobs requiring no college experience,

I'm willing to guess that whoever authored this does not know a single person who possesses an associate (not "associate's") degree. That said, doesn't anyone in the White House own a !@#$ing AP Stylebook?

And what is it with Democrat and community colleges, anyway? Obama's blueprint for rebuilding our nation devotes two whole paragraphs to the topic.

Almost every Democratic politician waxes rhapsodic about the ability of community college to serve as a sort of cosmic VoTech that turns McDonald's employees into citizens of the future. What is it that liberals think happens at community college?

Providing all Americans with the skills they need to compete is a pillar of a stronger economic foundation, and, like health care or energy, we cannot wait to make the necessary changes.

Are we hyphenating health care or not? I need leadership on this issue. That said, why on Earth can't we wait to make changes to community colleges? If any issue verily screams "wait until 2012 to deal with me!" it's community college reform.

But earlier generations of Americans didn't build this great country by fearing the future and shrinking our dreams. This generation has to show that same courage and determination. I believe we will.

Well, earlier generations didn't shrink our dreams because the science, both in terms of time travel and dream-shrinkage, hadn't been invented yet. As for me, my dreams do not include the government. I, and millions of Americans, envision an America with minimal governmental intervention. Pretty sure that's what the earlier generations had in mind, too.

But if Barack Obama wants to bring us incremental changers into the fold, he might begin by hiring a communications person who can put 800 words to paper without making him look like an imbecile, and a cynical one at that.

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