Amber waves of grain. Children waving flags. Happy veterans. Glowing young couples. These are just some of the images seen on the Obama Worship Hour (otherwise known as a half hour paid political advertisement) last evening, broadcast on five channels: NBC, MSNBC, CBS, Fox and Univision. CNN declined the generous offer; ABC was unable to reschedule its Wednesday lineup in time. FOX News was not even invited to join the other supplicants at the altar.
Slickly produced, the 30-minute spot, with its soft music, emotive images and tearjerker stories of hardworking Americans going through difficult times (hey, why wasn't I auditioned for this?), reminds one more of a movie on the Lifetime, Oxygen or Hallmark channels than a political ad. The kind of movie that makes you squirm uncomfortably in your seat in embarrassment, wondering when the commercial will come so you can run to the kitchen for a bracing jolt of caffeinated soda (or something stronger). But then you remember: the whole thing is a commercial!
(Cue shower music from Psycho…)
Those emotive images I mentioned? One of them includes Obama speaking to a group of retirees whose pensions were cut. He's standing in the middle of a gazebo, the sun shining on his hair in a way that's reminiscent of a – wait for it – halo. Yes, The One has indeed come back to lead the faithful to nirvana.
After two years on the stump and over a quarter of a million dollars spent, Obama has yet to close the deal with the American people. Was he able to convince them last night? That depends on how much of a tolerance the American people have for schmooze and snooze – which is pretty much what the Obama Worship Hour was from start to finish.
After the first profile of a struggling family, Obama blamed the recent market fallout on "eight years of failed policy" and said our economy is in the worst shape since the Great Depression. He's been saying this now for a number of weeks, hoping you won't realize that really, we're in the worst shape since the Carter administration. (Let's play "Guess That Party!")
Among his promises were those famous tax cuts for everyone making less than $200,000 a year. Of course, earlier this year the threshold was $300,000 and as recently as the last debate it was $250,000. And if you ask Joe Biden, the number is $150,000. But hey, who's counting? Especially when the tax cut he's promising for 95% of Americans actually amounts to a freebie from the government, since approximately one third of tax filers end up owing no income tax after taking their deductions and credits allowed by the IRS. Who gets to pay for this largesse? Higher-income bracket people – you know, rich people.
In other words, spreading the wealth. Oops.
He also promised loans for small businesses to help pay their workers "just like after 9/11." I thought politicizing 9/11 was taboo. Oh right, that's only Republicans. Gotcha. But wouldn't those loans be unnecessary if he said, "Let's NOT raise taxes" on anyone? Sorry, my brain sometimes goes all logical on me. I promise it won't happen again.
Basically, Obama wants to "restore fairness to the American economy and fulfill our commitments to the American people." The word "fairness" is more code for socialism: it's not fair that some people are able to earn more, so we have to "level the playing field" by taking from some and giving it to others. And about those commitments: our Founders felt that the government's biggest commitment was to stay out of our way. However, since Obama feels the Constitution "reflected the fundamental flaw of this country that continues to this day," it's not surprising that he thinks that it's his job to change government's role in a way that has not been seen since Johnson's (not so) Great Society. (Rush Limbaugh touched on this during his program yesterday in a "prebuttal" to Obama's infomercial.)
Watching this, I must admit, I'm appalled at the way Obama has a tendency to drop his Gs in order to sound more folksy. According to Peggy Noonan, such talk is a "new vulgarization in American politics." Oh wait, that note was for Sarah Palin. Move along, nothing to see here…
Ah, here we come to energy policy. Obama wants to invest $15 billion in renewable energy such as wind, solar and biofuels, claiming that 5 million jobs "that can never be outsourced" will be created. But is it the government's job to invest money in what has, until now, been the domain of the private sector and free market? He's also promising to help our automakers "retool" so they can build fuel-efficient cars. "Retool" here is another word for government handout to private corporations. Haven't Americans had enough of bailouts? Maybe if the automakers would give the unions the boot they'd stand more of a chance at making a buck.
Besides, we've seen how the government handles investments through the muck-up of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Do we really want them handling more of our financial affairs?
Obama talks about going through the federal budget line by line and cutting programs that don't work and making those that do work more efficient. But as in the debates, he declines to say which ones he'd cut – except, of course, his sop to the far Left: "chang[ing] our policy in Iraq." Once again, he speaks of ending the war. The word "win" doesn't seem to be in his vocabulary. (If I were him, I might want a refund on the cost of that expensive Ivy League education.)
Obama likens the money we spend in Iraq to money that could be spent on schools and healthcare, yet it's not the government's job to be spending money in those areas. Hey, if throwing money at schools is the answer, why are Washington D.C.'s public schools near the bottom of the heap instead of at the top?
The most important way our government can "secure the blessings of liberty" is by "provid[ing] for the common defense," as laid out in the preamble to the Constitution. The argument of whether we should have gone into Iraq is now moot. We're there, and the surge worked. The Iraqis are getting closer and closer to being able to fend for themselves. Leaving now would leave a vacuum that Iran is all more than willing to fill and, along with an emboldened al Qaeda, would use the strategically placed Iraq to use as a launching ground for their nefarious plans to destroy Israel and spread radical Islam throughout the world.
Do we have a "moral obligation" to provide free college education to everyone? Obama seems to think so. Those who would rather go into a trade, though, may be out of luck. Sorry, all you future plumbers, electricians and beauticians out there.
The right to healthcare comes up, right on cue. To all of you who believe healthcare is a right: Imagine that tomorrow every healthcare professional – doctors, nurses, phlebotomists, dentists, physical therapists, and so on – were to suddenly quit. Each and every one of them. There goes your "right," right down the toilet. And again, do we really want the architects of the Fannie and Freddie implosion to be in charge of our healthcare too?
Another little tidbit that cracked me up was seeing Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, praising Obama's economic plan. Sorry, but don't count me as one of those being impressed by the opinion of a guy whose company bowed to pressure by China and censors itself in that country so as not to lose that Communist country's business.
One of the biggest complaints that Obama's critics have is that we don't know who he is. A little-known senator is suddenly in position to have the most influential and powerful job on the planet. But who is he? What's he like? Who were the people who motivated him in his life? If you were looking for reassurance on those murky characters like Bill Ayers, Tony Rezko, Rev. Wright and Rashid Khalidi, you didn't get it last night. Instead, we were treated to a rehash about how the absence of his father shaped him, how his mother had to wake him at 4:30 in the morning so she could go to work, and how difficult her death was for him. And Michelle tells us what a great dad he is. (Speaking of Michelle, I'm still waiting for the New York Times to do as flattering a profile on her as they did on Cindy McCain.)
Finally, Obama promises to be faithful to the Constitution – an amusing concept, considering he feels it represents a "fundamental flaw" in our country. He also promises to bolster the military. Yet past declarations belie those promises, such as cutting tens of billions in wasteful military spending, including "unproven missile systems," and a "goal of a world without nuclear weapons." Good luck with that.
If you've been paying any attention to the campaign, you learned nothing new during the Obama Worship Hour, including the fact that as long as he's on script, Obama does very well – it's when he doesn't have a teleprompter in front of him or an editor in charge of cutting out unflattering video footage that little things like "spreading the wealth" slip out.
And considering all of the money that must have gone into the making and marketing of this video, it could have used a little more pizzazz. The reactions I got from my friends online? Ho-hum.
Putting aside the smarmy qualities of this infomercial aside, the fact that he could afford to make and air it (on five networks during prime time) at all should tell us what we need to know about Obama: he promised to accept public financing for the general election and broke that promise when he realized he could raise a lot more on his own. Or, if you'd like, he outright lied when he made the promise. If CNN's Campbell Brown and Democrat Bob Kerrey can both note the contradiction, I like to think the rest of America is savvy enough to figure it out too.
Is this an aberration or a pattern?
On November 4th, Americans will head to the polls to elect a leader, not a religious figure immortalized on celluloid for consumption by the masses. Look beyond the hype, and vote accordingly.
Okay, time to wake up and make your way to coffee hour. Don't forget to leave a little donation in the collection plate on your way out.
Pam Meister is the editor of FamilySecurityMatters.org.