Thursday, January 27, 2011


Obama's State of the Union: Plagiarism

By Alvin Felzenburg of USNEWS
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, what can be said of plagiarism? President Obama’s second State of the Union address contained enough recycled ideas and lines lifted from speeches of others to make historians wince. I suppose this is what one does when one not only has nothing new to say, but is required by custom and Constitution to come forth with a report of some kind by a certain time and day.

Had Obama or his writers been considerate enough to have informed listeners of where some of the president’s best lines and offered-up ideas originated, the speech might be remembered for its cutting and pasting of great and not-so-great moments of the past performance of others. After quoting Robert Kennedy early on, Obama tried to have his listeners believe that everything else he said that we might remember were his or his writers’ creations. Had the president submitted the text of his second State of the Union Address in the form of a college term paper, he would have been sent forthwith to the nearest academic dean. Once again, our public affairs are such that we have one standard for presidents and another for undergraduates. Now is as good a time as any to let Obama’s listeners in on what the late Paul Harvey would have termed “the rest of the story.” [Take the poll: Was Obama’s State of the Union speech a success?]

Early in his address, Obama said that he wanted the nation he leads to be a "light to the world." The last president who set such a mission for the nation he led, and in those exact words, was Woodrow Wilson.

Obama’s concept of the “American family” may well have had its origins in the first State of the State address New York Governor Mario Cuomo delivered in 1983. Cuomo proclaimed the state of New York as a “family.” He also talked about multiple partnerships, both public and private.

In an address to the Heritage Foundation in the early 1990s, Margaret Thatcher delivered what might go down as the most memorable line in Obama’s second State of the Union address. The British Prime Minister told her American audience that the United States was the “first nation to have been founded on an idea.” It took the president a few additional words to get this idea across.

Obama’s pointed mutterings about a second “Sputnik Moment” being upon us and his recollection of how American policymakers responded to the last one with increased expenditures on infrastructure, science, technology, and education were clearly intended to evoke the spirit of Dwight D. Eisenhower. His setting of specific deadlines and goals was vintage JFK, but for the absence of any sense of challenge to his audience, list of benefits the United States would derive from them, or any semblance of a shared adventure the American people were about to embark upon. [Read Robert Schlesinger: Obama Not the First to Use 'Sputnik Moment.']

There was a certain Back to the Future feel to the masterful tributes Obama paid those Ronald Reagan might have described as “ordinary heroes.” After all, it was Reagan who began the practice of inviting citizens who had done extraordinary things to sit beside the first lady in the House gallery as the president recited their achievements. It was also Reagan who reminded his listeners that the greatness of America emerged not from the hand of government, but through the entrepreneurial spirit of the American people. [Check out a roundup of political cartoons on Obama.]

Obama received his most sustained applause when he said, "I know there isn’t a person here who would trade places with any other nation on Earth." Leaving aside the faulty grammar (people change places with people, not with nations), the poaching from John F. Kennedy's immortal inaugural address was obvious enough for the most historical of Obama's listeners to notice. ("I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation.") That Obama could utter almost identical words days after paying tribute to Kennedy on the 50th anniversary of the delivery of that famous speech and not making reference to it suggests a self-absorption rare even among presidents. [See photos of the Obamas behind the scenes.]

Most pointedly, the low point of Obama’s speech came when he brought back government re-organization from the ash heap of failed efforts of previous presidents who sought to save money without inflicting pain on a public that had grown accustomed to government largesse. This one, like all that talk about all those green energy jobs that lay before us, had fallen out of the presidential repertoire with retirement of Jimmy Carter. Obama might have had the decency to have Carter on hand to witness the moment. He will have another chance should he, when he delivers his budget, bring back that other Carter flop from yesteryear, “zero based budgeting.” [See a slide show of 10 worst presidents.]

Even Obama’s feigned attempt at humor had an antecedent in the remarks of a predecessor who spun better yarns than this president. Obama informed his listeners that salmon comes under the jurisdiction of one department when swimming in fresh water and under another when swimming in salt water. He rhetorically inquired what happened to the fish when “smoked.”
Somewhere in the White House library resides a published letter Franklin Roosevelt wrote to an adviser in which he complained that some bears were the property of the Interior Department, while others belonged the National Parks System. FDR, tongue in cheek, warned of a pending custody battle over cubs that emerged from illicit unions of bears crossing departmental jurisdictions.
It would appear that the only president of note whose imprint was absent in Obama’s long awaited and much-anticipated speech was Obama. This was supposed to have been the moment when the nation found out whether he was at the core a Rooseveltian liberal of a Clintonian centrist. What it got was a cut and pasted version of great and not-so-great State of the Union and other addresses of the past.

Sometime last year, many suggested that Obama would have an easier time getting his message across if he was less dependent on his teleprompter. This may be the year his writers are advised to throw away their books of political quotations. Then we may finally find out what the president truly believes and what he hopes to achieve in the office he so ardently sought.

Monday, January 24, 2011


I just cannot recall anyone being so anointed with power and promise falling so hard so fast. One could list the bogus bows, Olympic losses and epic mid-term election meltdowns, but there is no need: The ambush at Solder Field Sunday is illustration enough why they call it:
“The Second City.”

Second best means "thanks for playing." Or the always comforting: “You’re the Alternate!”

Obama just cannot seem to manufacture a win right now. You know why? Look at the city he came from the day after losing the biggest game in the history of a storied franchise. There they are, in assorted bars across the city and state, burning Jay Cutler’s jersey today for his lack of effort after being sidelined with a knee injury. Let me fix this for you bear fans right now: Your team’s lack of continuity (three offensive coordinators in three years) is the issue here. No one will buy into what you’re coaching if you have to change it every year, and even during the year. They looked confused. They were reacting instead of enforcing their will on Green Bay. In short they were impotent because no one, not even the coaches, believed in their plan.

I love a good football metaphor as much as anyone. This one’s just too easy.

Now, I have to lay it all down here. My favorite blogger (male or female) hails from Pittsburg. Ms. Rice is not a fan of football, but she cannot ignore it now. As our teams plan their mutual destruction in two weeks, Teresa and I will have to work our some sort of wager. This will be in fun, but I assure you, your team had best bring it all to Dallas girl. More to follow…

Monday, January 17, 2011


"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --Martin Luther King Jr.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


31 of 35 for 366 yards and three TD passes and he ran one in himself.
Makes me feel sad for the rest.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


“I am horrified by the senseless attack on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and members of her staff. An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve. Acts and threats of violence against public officials have no place in our society. Our prayers are with Congresswoman Giffords, her staff, all who were injured, and their families. This is a sad day for our country."

Pelosi would have blamed Bush.


Monday, January 3, 2011


Ugly as it was, the Packers finished their regular season Sunday by putting a hurt on the Windy City’s latest excuse for an NFL team. Jay “Million dollar arm and ten cent brain” Cutler could not answer the Pack’s defense with anything but a first half field goal.

So, if you want to keep bears out of your backyard, put up a goal post.

No one could foresee the Packers needing to place 14 players to injured reserve by the first of November. With eight weeks of football left, the Packers had lost no less than eight starters. In fact they lost three players for the year on one single play: A kickoff no less. It looked like a disaster. Coach Mick McCarthy never once used inured players for an excuse for losing. Dom Capers had to fill one linebacker spot with 9 different men. Coach Capers now qualifies to do anything with nothing. If Coach Capers is not a head coach somewhere next fall, the Packers will have pulled off a vital coup. Without this defense, the Packers would have been inept.
I look forward to a Philly Cheese Steak sandwich made with REAL Wisconsin Cheese with an Andy Reid garnish. Time to put Mr. Vick and his poodle out to pasture.