Column: Phony Lines from Barack Obama's Speech

August 21st, 2020 6:42 AM

Ryan Lizza, the Chief Washington Correspondent of Politico, is the kind of character assassin who likes going to the White House briefing and throwing beanball questions about how many coronavirus deaths President Trump thinks are acceptable.

If that sounds darkly partisan, you could also see the sunny side of Lizza on Twitter, almost levitating over Barack Obama’s speech. “Barack Obama just delivered the finest convention speech in modern history (again). Spellbinding, chilling, optimistic, beautifully written,  and expertly delivered. Incredible moment.”

Conservative Twitter informally awarded him the Chris Matthews Thrill Up My Leg Prize for most infatuated reaction. But it seconds the emotions of the average “objective” journalist.

So let’s focus on how Obama’s speech could be evaluated more critically. Some lines were mean-spirited, phony, or laughable.

1. Obama said “Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t. And the consequences of that failure are severe: 170,000 Americans dead, millions of jobs gone, while those at the top take in more than ever.”

If we had a President Hillary Clinton, would Obama (or his many media allies) consider it fair game to blame tens of thousands of American COVID deaths on her? Do they honestly believe that under Democrats, the death toll would have been 170? That would ignore how the worst death tolls are largely in states with Democrat governors.

2. Obama touted Biden’s character. “Joe’s a man who learned early on to treat every person he meets with respect and dignity....That empathy, that decency, the belief that everybody counts — that’s who Joe is.”

That’s a Pants on Fire lie. Just weeks ago, he sneered that any black voter who didn’t support him isn’t really black. In 2012, Biden smeared Wall Street before a black audience: “They’re gonna put y’all back in chains.” Examples abound.  

3. This Obama spin about Biden and Harris really makes opponents laugh. “They believe that no one — including the president — is above the law, and that no public official — including the president — should use their office to enrich themselves or their supporters.”

Does that include presidents that massively enrich themselves immediately after leaving office? I don’t recall Biden denouncing Obama’s mega-deals with Penguin Random House and Netflix.  

4. This routine about Biden and Harris and their beliefs continued. “They understand that in this democracy, the commander in chief doesn’t use the men and women of our military, who are willing to risk everything to protect our nation, as political props to deploy against peaceful protesters on our own soil.”

If Obama was ever surrounded by skeptical journalists, they might ask which protesters in cities like Portland and Seattle were “peaceful,” because it certainly wasn’t the hooligans throwing bricks and trying to set federal buildings on fire. Obama’s right that Democrats love to blur the peaceful and violent protesters into a heroic whole. Kamala Harris called them a “coalition of conscience" taking to the streets.

5. Finally, Obama claimed the Biden-Harris ticket understands that “political opponents aren’t ‘un-American’ just because they disagree with you; that a free press isn’t the “enemy,” but the way we hold officials accountable.”

False. In April, Biden said Trump’s differing opinion on mail-in voting was “un-American.” And most conservatives thought it was rich for Obama to uphold the press, when even Obama-supporting journalists admitted Obama was the harshest president in history in prosecuting journalists in leak investigations.  

Donald Trump isn’t wrong to think of the media elite as an enemy of Trump, even as Obama arrogantly poses as the defender of those hardened observers like Terry Moran, who oozed he was “taking a step down into the Oval Office.”