President Obama used kitchen table populism, but surprisingly less than I expected. To me, the speech was broadly pablum, but the small-business capital gains tax cut was brilliant. Is brilliant.
I continue to wonder who this man is, how he connects his Keynesian ideals to monetarist prompts from his country. They rail against bailouts, complain about the deficit…yet they receive more of it anyway. He’s convinced that Americans don’t know what’s good for them, which bothers me. It’s paternal, and that paternalism threatens to usher in the darker and more dangerous paternalism of the teabagging, nativist, xenophobic right.
Much of this speech was meaningless, as most of them are. But President Obama still speaks with a clarity of thought that inspires me. It’s just that those thoughts aren’t necessarily connected, and they don’t exist in a continuum of economic reality. Sometimes I convince myself that he understands that and these words are just for the people to suck on while the necessary medicine of temporary suffering is administered. Then speeches like this only increase my doubts, confusion, and the extent to which hope is all I can take from the man I voted for in the face of his party’s bad policy.