If you can't impress them with the truth, then baffle them with you're bullshit
When a man has no design but to speak plain truth, he may say a great deal in a very narrow compass.
- Sir Richard Steele
If brevity be the soul of wit, then Obama is witless indeed. Obama may soar with the great orators when reading from a speech prepared for him and delivered across a teleprompter, but he falls screaming to earth when left to his own devices. In such instances, his ability to give concise answers to questions - let alone truthful ones - doesn't merely lessen, it disappears entirely, to be replaced by something one would expect to see in a pardoy. The first example is Obama's response to a question asked by a woman at a Q&A session a few days ago - whether it was a "wise decision to add more taxes to us with the health care" package since "we are over-taxed as it is." This from the Washington Post on Obama's response:
. . . He then spent the next 17 minutes and 12 seconds lulling the crowd into a daze. His discursive answer - more than 2,500 words long -- wandered from topic to topic, including commentary on the deficit, pay-as-you-go rules passed by Congress, Congressional Budget Office reports on Medicare waste, COBRA coverage, the Recovery Act and Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (he referred to this last item by its inside-the-Beltway name, "F-Map"). He talked about the notion of eliminating foreign aid (not worth it, he said). He invoked Warren Buffett, earmarks and the payroll tax that funds Medicare (referring to it, in fluent Washington lingo, as "FICA").
Always fond of lists, Obama ticked off his approach to health care -- twice. "Number one is that we are the only -- we have been, up until last week, the only advanced country that allows 50 million of its citizens to not have any health insurance," he said.
A few minutes later he got to the next point, which seemed awfully similar to the first. "Number two, you don't know who might end up being in that situation," he said, then carried on explaining further still.
"Point number three is that the way insurance companies have been operating, even if you've got health insurance you don't always know what you got, because what has been increasingly the practice is that if you're not lucky enough to work for a big company that is a big pool, that essentially is almost a self-insurer, then what's happening is, is you're going out on the marketplace, you may be buying insurance, you think you're covered, but then when you get sick they decide to drop the insurance right when you need it," Obama continued, winding on with the answer.
Halfway through, an audience member on the riser yawned.
But Obama wasn't finished. He had a "final point," before starting again with another list -- of three points.
"What we said is, number one, we'll have the basic principle that everybody gets coverage," he said, before launching into the next two points, for a grand total of seven. . . .
It was not evident that he changed any minds at Friday's event. The audience sat politely, but people in the back of the room began to wander off.
Even Obama seemed to recognize that he had gone on too long. He apologized -- in keeping with the spirit of the moment, not once, but twice. "Boy, that was a long answer. I'm sorry," he said, drawing nervous laughter that sounded somewhat like relief as he wrapped up.
But, he said: "I hope I answered your question."
Is there anyone who doubts that an honest answer would have taken one to two sentences from Obama. Likewise, is there anyone who doubts that those one to two sentences would include the words "redistribution" and "social justice." This one definitely falls into the "baffle them" category. You can read the entirety of his answer here.
But Obama was hardly done with setting new records for baffling speech. The second example involves a single sentence of such prodigous length and girth that it may well be record setting. This from the LA Times, having a bit of fun with it:
Obama's record-setting run-on sentence that reminisces about campaign travels and dumb polls and small towns (not bitter ones) and ups and downs and the American Dream and grandkids and tough times and back to, of course, healthcare like this
It must be a record for something -- the week, if the not the year or -- who knows? -- perhaps the entire Obama presidency.
Some people were thinking the liberal Democrat was spending a lot of money. But in Boston Thursday night at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser definitely not inside any pole-dancing place, President Obama accomplished an amazing feat of loquacity, uttering one single sentence containing 304 words. . . .
This very long, ear-numbing sentence came Thursday night at the end of a very long day.
And because it is the run-on sentence against which all presidential run-on sentences will likely be judged for the foreseeable future, we had to share it with you straight from the White House transcript.
It comes in response to one of his own favorite straw-man questions. And his answer would sure seem to belie the claim of calmness.
Anyway, take a deep breath:
A lot of people have asked, why is it you seem so calm?
And what I’ve tried to say often -- and a lot of times this gets discounted in the press -- is that the experience of having traveled throughout this country; having learned the stories of ordinary folks who are doing extraordinary things in their communities, in their neighborhoods; having met all the people who put so much energy and effort into our campaign; having seen the ups and downs and having seen how Washington was always the last to get what was going on, always the last to get the news -- what that told me was that if we were willing to not do what was expedient, and not do what was convenient, and not try to govern based on the polls today or tomorrow or the next day, but rather based on a vision for how we can rebuild this country in a way that works for everybody -- if we are focused on making sure that there are ladders of opportunity for people to continue to strive and achieve the American Dream and that that’s accessible to all, not just some -- if we kept our eye on what sort of future do we want for our kids and our grandkids so that 20 years from now and 30 years from now people look back on this generation the way we look back on the Greatest Generation and say to ourselves, boy, they made some tough decisions, they got through some tough times, but, look, we now have a clean energy economy; look, our schools are revitalized; look, our health care system works for every single American -- imagine how tough that was and how much resistance they met from the special interests, but they were still willing to do it -- if that was how we governed, then I figure that the politics would take care of itself.
Now, take two aspirin and check back here later.