Okay…POTUS had a TOTUS-moment in his speech at the Prayer Breakfast the other day. It seems that at least some of the media quickly chose to delete that part of the speech from earlier transcripts in which a couple of times he pronounced the term “corpsman” as “corpse-man.” One hopes the teleprompter plainly indicated “corpsman;” otherwise, the prez was badly served by his speechwriters if they gave a phonetic hint that caused the error.
More likely, the slip of the tongue was due to the fact that Obama has no clue with respect to anything military, although one could hope that in his highly touted education-process he might have learned how to say “corpsman.” Imagine calling the president’s band the “Marine Corpse Band” or alluding to the “drum-and-bugle corpse” that often participates in parades, etc. John Philip Sousa would flip in his grave. Maybe the pundits who made so much of George Bush’s mispronunciation of “nuclear” will shut up now for a while. The suspicion here is that he purposely did that anyway, just for the heck of it.
The president’s astuteness came into play when he said this: “But there is a sense that something is different now; that something is broken; that those of us in Washington are not serving the people as well as we should. At times, it seems like we're unable to listen to one another; to have at once a serious and civil debate. And this erosion of civility in the public square sows division and distrust among our citizens. It poisons the well of public opinion.”
That, of course, was the mother of all understatements. The “brokenness” began with the gloating in 2007 as the democrats took over Congress and was enhanced last year when Obama began what has turned out to be a disastrous first-year presidency, his constant mantra having to do with the fact that he inherited a mess (the case with all incoming presidents), the implication being that he should be cut some slack. He should, but only up to a point, certainly now reached.
The most egregious approach to governing shown by the president thus far was seen in the “stimulus package,” which made ordinary earmarking look like very small potatoes. It was designed ostensibly to create jobs but it has mostly created government jobs at a time when government workers, on average, make about $30,000 more per year (taxpayer monies) than all other workers. Government jobs are also highly unionized (some 52% of all union jobs), so labor-union hotshots can often run the show. Teacher-unions are among the worst, providing teacher-immunity from everything from teacher-ignorance to teacher-incompetence to curriculum-stupidity.
As for listening to each other, the Congressional democrats and the president determined last year to construct/enact cap-and-trade, health-care, and most everything else as exclusive products of the respective democrat caucuses and the administration. The well-publicized method ballyhooed the fact that lawmakers no longer had to read the bills on which they voted – and they didn’t. The citizenry DOES see the efforts as evidence of a totally broken government.
As for civility, it’s doubtful that current lawmakers are any worse at exercising it than those since the beginning. Even worse than name-calling is that of being ignored, as the republicans have been. Even worse than that is the blaming of republicans for recalcitrance regarding debate/compromise when the deep rifts among the democrats are the cause for entirely shutting down their agenda. They have or had the votes all year for doing anything and everything they wanted, up to and including the closing of Gitmo and wars anywhere.
The president said this: “It is this spirit of civility that we are called to take up when we leave here today. That's what I'm praying for.” He should have prayed this prayer last year when the tawdry wheeling and dealing accruing to trying to pass a health-care bill was front-page news or TV-talk-fodder on a daily basis. This dirty linen was rotten to the core but in this age of the Internet and 24/7 cable-news it was aired for all the world to notice…and laugh.
The president has learned some, but not everything, in the last year. This is what he said at the Prayer Breakfast of 05 February 2009: “But no matter what we choose to believe, let us remember that there is no religion whose central tenet is hate. There is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being. This much we know.” Innocent women and children are being blown to bits all over the world today because of a tenet of Islam (Allah as god), to wit, “kill the infidel at every opportunity.” Not just soldiers, of course! No…people just eating in a restaurant or in school or walking along a highway or in a mosque or working in a place like the WTC and Pentagon of 2001.
The main concern of the Prayer Breakfast might well have been approaching the God of the founding fathers and beseeching him to help deliver the world from the terrorists who slay in the name of their god. Then, shoe-bombers and skivvies-bombers and plane-hijackers would be treated like the monsters they are, not hurt, of course, but also not read their “rights” and handled with kid gloves. Harsh? Maybe…but try that epithet when talking to a scarred-for-life survivor or the family of a victim.