Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Truth And Nothing But The Truth

I recently saw a movie called “The Invention of Lying” with Ricky Gervais. The movie took place in a mythical society where there was no concept of lying. I wondered what a speech by Barack Obama would look like if he had lived in this mythical society and had to tell the truth as he saw it. The speech might go something like this…

Madame Speaker, Vice President Biden, Members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans: Two years ago I took office amid two wars, an economy rocked by severe recession, a financial system on the verge of collapse, and a government deeply in debt. Now let me be clear, I would have never been elected if everything was running smoothly in the country. I was elected because I promised that I would change and improve these things. I offered hope.

It’s been two years and while we are still at war, while our unemployment has skyrocketed up to almost 10%, and while our debt has grown to unsustainable levels, I am amazed that I can still get away with blaming the previous administration.

America elected me because we decided to move forward as one nation and one people. But some of you have decided you do not want to be one nation. Selfish people who watch FOX news and listen to talk radio -- unpatriotic people who have formed tea parties are trying to misrepresent and ruin the change I have proposed. If we are truly to become one nation and one people, then those of you who have ideas that are different than mine need to shut up and stop standing in the way.

People need to understand that I, as President of the United States, know better than you about what is good for the country. We need to get away from our colonial, imperialistic and nationalistic way of thinking about our country and about the world. We need to understand that we are world citizens, not just citizens of one country. We cannot afford the arrogance that has marred this country in the past. We are just one country out of many and we need to have relationships with other countries based on mutual trust and mutual respect.

As to the economy, we cannot afford another so-called economic "expansion" like the one from last decade – what some call the "lost decade”. I don’t personally know anyone who actually called it the “lost decade” but after this speech, there will be people who will start to use the term “the lost decade” and it will seem as if that phrase has been around for a while. It’s a little trick that I and my speech writers use to fool people. We create a new term and make it seem as if others have been saying it all along.

The economic expansion of the last decade was built on a housing bubble that was unsustainable. I have said in the past that the bursting of the housing bubble was caused by Wall Street greed and unregulated financial speculation. What I haven’t said, but what is no less true, is that by forcing banks to give loans to people who had bad credit and little assets, was that we were creating a situation whereby if the housing bubble burst, a lot of innocent people would be left holding the bag. As an advisor to ACORN, I personally played a big role in seeing that this policy of bad loans continued. This, of course, was done with the best of intentions.

In fact, many of my close associates have also played a part in the forcing of banks to give bad loans with the goal that home ownership is a right, rather than a privilege. These include Barney Frank, Andrew Cuomo, Chris Dodd, Franklin Raines and many others. The reasons for the financial collapse are very complicated and I rely on most of you to not take the initiative to look into what actually caused the crisis.

I know that most of you are tired if the partisanship, the shouting, and the pettiness in Washington. So in order to have a more civil and bi-partisan tone, people need to believe in me. I ask for your trust. My opponents on the other side of the aisle try to bring up facts to confuse people. We will have a much more civil and democratic society if my opponents would stop trying to throw their opinions into the political debate. This only serves to create a partisan tone in Washington. It would be much more beneficial to the country if you would simply accept that the financial crisis was caused by Wall Street greed and leave it at that.

We all hated to have to bail out the banks. It was about as popular as a root canal but it needed to be done. So I supported the last administration's efforts to create the financial rescue program. I know that I bring up the previous administration quite a lot. There are two reasons for this. Number one: When I do something unpopular or reckless, it is beneficial to me if the previous administration has also done something unpopular or reckless. Number two: If the unpopular and reckless thing I have done doesn’t work out, I get to blame the previous administration but if it does work out, I get to take credit for it.

We need to make sure consumers and middle-class families have the information they need to make financial decisions. We can't allow financial institutions, including those that take your deposits, to take risks that threaten the whole economy. From this point forward, I will see to it that only government will be allowed to take risks that threaten the whole economy.

In fact, many companies have now paid back their loans so it has been a complete success in staving off financial disaster. Therefore, tonight I'm proposing that we take $30 billion of the money Wall Street banks have repaid and use it to help community banks give small businesses the credit they need to stay afloat. Because I’ll be dammed if I’m just going to take that money and give it back to its rightful owners – you the people.

As to international issues, as most of you probably know, I was against the Iraq war right from the beginning. What many of you may not realize is that I was just as firmly against the surge strategy in Iraq that brought us the ultimate victory there. Nevertheless, I have ended the conflict in Iraq and see no reason to give credit to anyone other than myself (well maybe the soldiers deserve a little credit as well). The war, after all, did end on my watch.

Illegal immigration is looked at by some as a problem. And we should continue the work of fixing our broken immigration system – to secure our borders, enforce our laws, and ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our nation. We need to get more immigrants to come to the US, to offer their hard labor, to pay taxes, to fill jobs that Americans won’t do, and to register as democrats.

As to my healthcare plan, if anyone from either party has a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors, and stop insurance company abuses, let me know. I will listen to your ideas before I dismiss them completely. I will then point out that elections have consequences and that I am the president. If you continue to make noise challenging that my healthcare plan will do all that I say it will do, I will make sure that you are portrayed as an out of touch troglodyte who doesn’t care about average working people.

Now I will be the first to admit that my administration has had some political setbacks and some of them were deserved. My administration should have done a better job of communicating how bad things were. In short, we didn’t take enough advantage of the economic and international crises both at home and abroad.

I did not come here to do what was easy and I did not say that change would happen overnight. We can do what's necessary to keep our poll numbers high or we can do what's best for the next generation. Or we can create a crisis that we can use to our political advantage. We can spend so much money that we dig a hole so deep it is impossible to get out of and when we’re done spending us into insolvency we can blame it all on George Bush.

Thank you. God Bless You. And God Bless the United States of America.

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