The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


July 31, 2013

Geoff Caldwell, guest columnist: There's something phony going on

JOPLIN, Mo. — Depending upon what start date you use, President Obama started somewhere between his 10th to 19th “pivot to the economy” tour last Wednesday.

If you missed it, don’t worry. You missed nothing of economic significance. Keystone XL is still not approved, the EPA is still raging against carbon, and the Obamacare express is barreling full throttle toward a public that doesn’t want it and an economy not even close to being ready to absorb the coming crash.

That Obama prefers adoring crowds and thunderous applause to the daily grind and responsibility of governing is no secret. But if this tour is a sign that he plans to spend his second term as he did his first, he runs the risk of turning his entire presidency into the most detached, divisive and economically disruptive in American history.

Take these three sentences from his speech last Wednesday at Knox College:

“With an endless parade of distractions, political posturing and phony scandals, Washington has taken its eye off the ball. And I am here to say this needs to stop. Short-term thinking and stale debates are not what this moment requires.”

The words are the usual Obama distract and blame, but they now just as easily describe his own administration. Obama IS Washington. And have not the past 4 1⁄2 years been but one short-term political calculation and stale debate after another? You can only say “fair share, grow the middle class, top 1 percent, equal shot” so many times before it goes stale, then moldy.

But the most telling of the thinking of the man and the apparatus surrounding him is the “phony scandal” remark. This was not some off-the-cuff “bumps in the road” gaffe. This phrase was birthed, nurtured and brought to adulthood under the full tutelage of the White House itself.

So the question becomes “why?”

Why would the president, who pledged to unite the nation, purposely insult tens of millions of Americans just because they oppose him politically?

And just exactly which “phony scandal” is Obama referring to, anyway?

Were they phony bullets that came out of a phony gun lost by a phony ATF operation that killed agent Brian Terry?

Is it a phony IRS trampling over the constitutional rights of an untold number of Americans and political groups?

Is all that data being vacuumed up by the NSA just a bunch of phony records being stored on phony servers?

Will all those pro-administration Obamacare “navigators” only be accessing phony financial and health information?

Were all those cables from Benghazi that poured into the State Department during the months prior to Sept. 11, 2012, just phony warnings?

Label them all phony if you wish, Mr. President, but here’s reality: Those are not phony coffins that Chris Stevens, Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods and Sean Smith are buried in. And we have yet to see but one photo — real or phony — of the commander in chief anywhere near the White House situation room during those long hours in which those heroes were dying.

An administration that has never hesitated to shower the American public with one photo after another of “Obama in charge,” “Obama listening” and “Obama deciding” now expects that same public to just close its eyes to the damning facts right in front of it. That takes the term “Orwellian” to a new level.

Unfortunately, that new level is smack dab in the middle of the Twilight Zone.

Geoff Caldwell lives in Joplin.

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