Friday, September 9, 2011

And Now That The President Has Spoken ….

When looked at strictly in terms of tone and delivery the President gave a brilliant speech last night. That was all he really needed to do in order to shore up his political base. For this group little more than something perceived as a brilliant rhetorical flourish is all that is required to perpetuate the swooning and fainting that was the hallmark of the 2008 campaign.

Anyone who watched the speech with any degree of a critical eye, regardless of their political leanings, saw something entirely different. What we saw was in fact little more than the opening salvo of what promises to be a long and arduous political campaign. As with any campaign speech it was long on rhetoric and very short if not devoid of substance. Every time this man speaks he can’t help but further demonstrate his total absence of understanding how economies actually function. The kool-aid drinkers and the naïve may have been impressed, the markets were not. The DJIA dropped 200 points the second the opening bell rang, and as I post this it is down 322 points. All of the global markets, across Asia and Europe are similarly down.

The markets visceral reaction to last night’s speech does not come from anything that was said. The devil is in the details, as the old saying goes, or in this case the complete absence of details. Talking about reforming the tax code is one thing, failing to give any specifics only adds to a perception of a clueless and ineffectual administration. A perception that has so far only been reinforced by failed initiative after failed initiative. (“Shovel ready wasn’t as shovel ready as we thought.”). Talking about “reducing regulation” absent any specifics and then immediately coupling it with insistence on maintaining unspecified “basic protections” rings hollow at best and disingenuous at worst, or more just plain cynical politics as usual.

Where was any mention of allowing companies to repatriate off shore assets and cash without having to pay a huge, confiscatory tax penalty? Where was any mention of policy that would make it easier to exploit our own energy reserves as opposed to extending aid to Brazil and others to help them exploit theirs?

All I heard was a willingness, nay eagerness, to shove another $460 billion down the rabbit hole of ill-prepared and ill-conceived government spending. Much was made about “creating” thousands of jobs in the construction industry, nothing was said about any guarantees that these jobs would go to unemployed Americans and not to the legions of illegal aliens that continue to flood across the border.

It’s pretty clear in my mind at least that this speech was crafted to pump an intellectually shallow base and at the same time guarantee that it will be Dead On Arrival in Congress. Thus providing the President the ammunition he seeks for his opening volley of rhetorical manipulation for the just opening campaign season. He so much as said so in the close of his remarks.

The President was right about one thing the large and growing number of unemployed and those living paycheck to paycheck and wondering if the next one will cover growing energy and food prices can’t afford to wait 14 month until the next election before anything is done. But this speech pretty much guarantees that they are going to have to. The only thing he really cares about them is how easily can whip them up with more empty rhetoric and platitudes and then use them as cannon fodder in the 2012 political wars.

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