Obama is Overreaching

Obama is Overreaching

By Jay Ambrose - October 28, 2009

So there is President Barack Obama, giving a speech to a bunch of Democrats, and he is saying "y'all" do this and "y'all" should consider that, and pretty soon I am asking myself, how did he become habituated to saying "y'all?" In his youth in Indonesia and Hawaii? From his Kansas grandparents? At Harvard Law School?

Mind you, I don't think there's anything wrong with the expression, which means "you all" and is perfectly grammatical as long as you're using it in the plural. I say it all the time -- could not quit if I wanted to -- but that's because I grew up in Kentucky where I would hear it constantly. It's natural with me. With Obama, it comes across as an affectation in striking contrast to his more common, professorial way of talking in interviews or the high drama we get in some of his speeches.

What we have in his "y'all" talk is an exaggerated, loosey-goosey folksiness meant to suggest he's at war with the elite instead of one of them. He's hardly the first politician to do this kind of thing. Remember how Hillary Clinton would sometimes talk in a fake Southern accent during the 2008 Democratic primaries as she attempted to bond with certain groups? The thing is, it's phony, and Saint Obama is not supposed to be phony, but something new and different and fresh.

Here, after all, is the guy who was going to find the middle, moderate way on issues, who was going to be bipartisan, whose administration would be utterly transparent, who would never kowtow to special interests, who would never mislead the public and who would be utterly, wholly accountable for his actions. As short a period as he has been in office, he has managed to betray all the above.

The moderate way he promised us has translated into the biggest single dose of leftist, governmental overreach seen in decades -- break-the-bank spending in a pork-ridden, ineffective stimulus bill, a takeover of the auto industry, an incredible projected jump in the deficit and debt, regulatory ambitions of a major kind and efforts to extend the welfare state beyond the reach of sense or need through health-care restructuring.

The Republicans won't cooperate, he says, meaning that they are so far refusing to march in this parade headed for European-style semi-socialism. The Republicans offer no alternative, he says. They have offered plenty. And it has not been enough to kick the Republicans in office. More than any president I have seen or read about, Obama has criticized his predecessor, often as if he himself shares no responsibility for all that's going amiss on his watch.

Transparency? The administration initially fought to keep some visitors to the White House a secret and cheered on Congress when it passed the stimulus bill without anyone knowing what was in it.

Special interests? Well, we can all trust there will be meaningful tort reform in any health bill passed by the Democrats, can't we? Of course not. The lawyers won't permit it. And how about those unions? Did they or didn't they get special attention in the bailout of the auto industry, just for starters?

As for truthfulness, it's sometimes hard to find, as in a speech to Congress in which he said the health bill would not create deficits, along with maybe four or five other whoppers. The administration's way of dealing with criticisms is to go on the offensive, usually with ad hominem attacks on the critics, or with evasiveness.

None of this means Obama himself is something short of very smart and very charming. He is immensely likeable, whatever his performance. But he is no more removed from the usual wiles of political life than most others who are in it.

Y'all are catching on to that, right?

Scripps Howard News Service

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