Home/Daniel Larison/The Problem Is Not Mass Murder, But Cynicism

The Problem Is Not Mass Murder, But Cynicism

Compare and contrast the depths of stupidity and callousness to which politicians will go.  Here is Huckabee a few weeks ago in an interview with RCP:

There are things we need to be afraid of; we need to be afraid of Islamic fascists; we need to afraid of the internal terrors that we face. The fact that many people will go to work this Friday and get a pink slip and be told that the job they’ve been working at 20 years won’t exist anymore. The fear that people are going to get a phone call that their 8 year old has broken his arm on the playground and they’re not sure how they’re going to pay the doctor bill and pay the rent on the first of the month.

That’s real terror. I mean, people have to understand that there are many forms of terror in the United States. There’s a terror that exists because our healthcare system is upside down and we’re just so overwhelmed with chronic disease that it’s bankrupting us and making us non-competitive. Parents are afraid their kids are going to spend twelve years in schools and still not be prepared to challenge the issues of the world.

So those are real true forms of terror for many American families.

This week it was Obama’s chance to try to see the big picture in the wake of the Virginia Tech massacre:

There’s also another kind of violence though that we’re gonna have to think about. It’s not necessarily physical violence but that the violence that we perpetrate on each other in other ways. Last week, the big news, obviously, had to do with Imus and the verbal violence that was directed at young women who were role models for all of us, role models for my daughter. I spend, along with my wife, a lot of time making sure that my two young daughters, who are gorgeous and tall and I hope will get basketball scholarships, that they feel good about who they are and that they understand they can do whatever they can dream might be possible. And for them to be degraded, or to see someone who looks like them degraded, that’s a form of violence – it may be quiet, it may not surface to the same level of the tragedy we read about today and we mourn, but it is violence nonethesame.

We [inaudible]…. There’s the violence of men and women who have worked all their lives and suddenly have the rug pulled out from under ’em because their job has moved to another country. They’ve lost their job, they’ve lost their pension benefits, and they’ve lost their health care and they’re having to compete against their teenage children for jobs at the local fast food place paying $7 an hour.

There is the violence of children, whose voices are not heard, in communities that are ignored. Who don’t have access to a decent education, who are surrounded by drugs and crime and a lack of hope.

There is something pretty badly out of joint if politicians find it appropriate to liken unemployment and slurs to terrorism and criminal violence.  Obama has been down this road before, of course, remarking to AIPAC that the problem is not so much terrorism as it is cynicism.  In one sense, he might have had a point, except that this is what he always says.  Kaus offers an explanation:

It suggests a mindset that tries to fit every event into a familiar, comforting framework he can spoon-feed his audience [bold in original]  without disturbing them.

A less charitable explanation is that Obama isn’t nearly as politically savvy as many of us, myself included, thought he was.  Perhaps he will keep saying similarly incredibly vacuous and/or obnoxious things for the next eight months.

Update: Steve Sailer notes that this bad speech is an expanded retread of an old Jesse Jackson routine.

It’s also worth noting that Obama almost literally cannot make a speech about anything without mentioning his parents, especially his father, his wife or his daughters.  Some might find this to be a touching attachment to family.  I find it to be a tiresome habit of trotting out his biography and family life as the only substantive, new things he ever has to talk about.

Update: Ross talks about the speech here.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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