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Thinking about tonight’s Inaugural Address

by | Feb 12, 2013

By Dave Andrusko

BidenObamaBoehnerLikely as not, I will not watch tonight’s State of the Union message today live; I’ve got too much to do and that’s why God created recording devices. Besides, there is no chance that the first SOTU message of President Obama’s second term will hold any positive news for pro-lifers and a good chance he will reinforce his standing in the pro-abortion community with some explicit shout-out.

Having said that, I found the Monday column written about the forthcoming speech by USA Today’s Susan Page to be on considerable interest.

I was amazed and amused (there is no other word) by the following paragraph for it tells us why the President, who thrives on giving no ground and demonizing his opponents, is still seen as some kind of cosmic conciliator. Page wrote

“What the president says and how he says it can set the stage for cooperation or confrontation on an issue. He can boost an ally or lay down a marker. Though his inaugural address last month was soaring and thematic, the specificity of a State of the Union means it can be a sort of political dog whistle, with messages only some in the audience will be able to discern.”

Three quick points.

#1. President Obama doesn’t do cooperation. (Not that you ever know that reading the Washington Post or the New York Times.) If you read most accounts over the past four years, the message is unmistakable: only the mindless/ideologically driven opposition of ornery Republicans explains how we have not reached nirvana. The fact is Obama has an agenda and is not shy about doing everything/anything possible to accomplish it, including trashing Republicans at every opportunity.

#2. January’s inaugural address was not soaring and thematic but hugged the ground, weighed down by a laundry list of items exactly like what we can expect tonight.

#3. The “political dog whistle” is a clever phrase. The idea is that its “pitch” is so specific that only a fraction of the audience will be able to “hear” it. In one sense that is self-evidently true of any presidential speech. But when it comes to our issues, perhaps a better idiom would be a combination of narrowcasting and code words.

His allies, such as PPFA and NARAL and EMILY’s List will be stroked and assured and thanked in words that sound so universal but send a distinct message. For example as he said on the 40th anniversary of Roe, “We reaffirm its historic commitment to protect the health and reproductive freedom of women across this country and stand by its guiding principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters, and women should be able to make their own choices about their bodies and their health care.”

There are indeed “guiding principles,” but not the kind that pit mother against unborn child or bigger Americans against the littlest American. They begin with respect for the right to life of all.

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Categories: Obama