FGF E-Package
The Reactionary Utopian
February 15, 2010

No Cliché Left Behind
by Joseph Sobran

DUNN LORING, VA — For some years now, the American media have marveled at what they called the eloquence and sheer oratorical genius of Barack Obama. He first won national attention with his speech to the 2004 Democratic Convention, which marked him as a rising star of the party; four years later, after the November 2008 election, he became the first candidate of African blood to gain the White House.

His most impressive performance, it is widely agreed, was his March 18, 2008, speech on race. It disarmed the critical faculties even of such a normally caustic pundit as Maureen Dowd of The New York Times, who hailed it for what she deemed its depth and brilliance. This surprised me, for I’d heard part of it on radio, and it had struck me at the time as trite and incoherent. To this day, he has never produced a single memorable apothegm.

A close look at the text of the 2008 race speech the other day more than confirmed my first impression. Obama has been a beneficiary of what G.W. Bush used to call “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” He is the first man to be propelled all the way to the presidency by white condescension. (Reminding us how, two decades ago, unwary male journalists were dazzled by Hillary Clinton’s intellect.) The first thing to be noted about this speech is its utter lack of originality, of either phrase or insight.

Here are a few brief samples of his way with words: “America’s improbable experiment in democracy… stained by this nation’s original sin of slavery…. I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together…. This belief comes from my unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the American people… [W]e all want to move in the same direction – towards a better future for our children and our grandchildren.”

As usual, Obama contrasts the decent and generous “American people” with the greedy and selfish “special interests in Washington.” There seems to be little or no overlap between these two categories.

He illustrates his unyielding faith by citing his favorite Bible stories, “the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion’s [sic] den” -- oops! That one’s not in the Bible. Maybe Obama is mixing up the story of Daniel in the lions’ den with later accounts of Christians being thrown to the lions.

This is not meant to be an exhaustive recitation of Obama’s gaffes, but one more demands our attention: “Let us be our brother’s keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister’s keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another,” etc.

Here the president is alluding to the story of Cain and Abel, evidently forgetting that Cain slays Abel; and when the Lord asks Cain where Abel is, Cain replies insolently,
“I know not; am I my brother’s keeper?” This is far from a moral exhortation; on the contrary, it’s more like a sarcasm: “How should I know where he is? I’m not his babysitter!”

Obama delivered this masterpiece, as you may recall, to save his skin when his boorish pastor, Jeremiah Wright, had stirred up the hornets with his fiery sermons (“God damn America!”). It worked, because Obama’s slick delivery (he makes Bill Clinton sound like an endearingly pitiful rube) drew press attention away from his blunders and non sequiturs.

And besides, how many journalists know the Bible? Most of them may be gullible enough to think there is a Bible story of early Christians in some lion’s den, or to suppose that “brother’s keeper” signifies fraternal affection. They aren’t noted for literacy, and they’d probably notice nothing amiss if Mark Antony said: “Friends, Romans, countrymen, loan me your ears.”

Obama praised Wright as “a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith.”
That would explain a lot about his absurdly mangled version of the faith he professes. The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose, Shakespeare tells us; but surely the devil could do it more adroitly than Obama.

The Reactionary Utopian archives


The Reactionary Utopian columns are copyright © 2009 by the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, www.fgfbooks.com, P.O. Box 1383, Vienna, VA 22183. All rights reserved. Editor may use this column if copyright information is included.

Joe Sobran is an author and a syndicated columnist. See complete bio and latest writings.
Watch Sobran on YouTube.

To subscribe, renew, or support further columns by Joe Sobran, please send a tax-deductible donation to the:
Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation
P.O. Box 1383
Vienna,VA 22183
or sponsor online.

© 2010 Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation