In the coming weeks and months, expect all the aspiring 2016 presidential candidates to make their “official announcement speeches” at a ritual known as the “campaign kickoff” (although in fact most of these campaigns were in some sense kicked off at least two or three quarters ago, with few or no points on the board).
As politically engaged Americans look forward to the excitement of the next election cycle, today I am looking back, celebrating the anniversary of an historic political event. Eight years ago today, on February 10, 2007, a U.S. senator named Barack Obama officially announced that he was seeking the Democratic nomination for president in 2008.
Here is the full text of the speech Senator Obama gave in Springfield, Ill., where he proclaimed:
[I]n the shadow of the Old State Capitol, where Lincoln once called on a divided house to stand together, where common hopes and common dreams still live, I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for President of the United States.
At the time of the speech, Obama had been a U.S. senator for less than 800 days.
Since anniversaries offer a forum for reflection, I encourage you to read the senator’s speech and judge for yourself how well he has fulfilled his starting-line goals. But in case you’re pressed for time, here are a few notable passages contrasted with some inconvenient facts.
Excerpt from speech:
In the face of a politics that’s shut you out, that’s told you to settle, that’s divided us for too long, you believe we can be one people, reaching for what’s possible, building that more perfect union.
Senator Obama may have dreamed of “building that more perfect union” (invoking an iconic phrase from President Lincoln’s first inaugural address), but as president he has achieved the exact opposite. Unfortunately for our nation, that is not an opinion but a statement of fact.
According to a Gallup analysis of 2014 polling data, President Obama presides over a nation that is historically polarized. Here was Gallup’s opening statement introducing the data: “Throughout President Barack Obama’s sixth full year in office, an average of 79% of Democrats, compared with 9% of Republicans, approved of the job he was doing. That 70-percentage-point party gap in approval ratings ties for the fifth-most-polarized year for a president in Gallup records dating back to 1953.”
Excerpt from speech:
For the last six years we’ve been told that our mounting debts don’t matter.
Apparently mounting debts have not mattered to President Obama, for now the national debt is over $18.1 trillion, with no end in sight. Current liabilities are $56,559 per citizen and $154,099 per taxpayer.
When President Obama took office on January 20, 2009, the national debt was $10.6 trillion. That means that in the first six years of his administration, President Obama added a record debt of $7.5 trillion. Furthermore, it is projected that by the time he leaves office, he will have accumulated debt equal to that of all previous presidents in U.S. history combined.
Since most people cannot grasp the concept of $18 trillion, here is a website that graphically presents this tsunami of debt that will eventually drown our nation.
Except from speech:
Let’s be the generation that ends poverty in America.
According to U.S. Census data displayed on the U.S. Debt Clock (a font of disturbing information) there are 44,314,514 million Americans in poverty, or roughly 15 percent of the population. That includes 5.5 million more impoverished Americans than there were in 2008, the year before Obama took office.
Robert Rector, a specialist on welfare and poverty at the Heritage Foundation, has said that President Obama’s anti-poverty efforts “are basically to give more people more free stuff.” If this is what Obama meant by “Let’s be the generation that ends poverty in America,” his is an expensive and unsustainable policy.
Excerpt from speech:
Let’s be the generation that says right here, right now, that we will have universal health care in America by the end of the next president’s first term.
Fortunately, Obama did not fulfill his promise of “universal health care.” However, Americans are stuck with an Obamacare legacy of higher premiums and deductibles for all. His signature program remains highly unpopular among 64% of Americans, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
In 2015 that number will likely increase because, as Americans file their 2014 income-tax returns, they must prove to the IRS that they have “government approved insurance” or proper exemptions. If not, an Obamacare tax penalty will be levied. According to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office, Obamacare-related taxes will amount to $896.3 billion by 2024.
What Obama neglected to mention in his 2007 announcement speech was that universal health care, in any form, comes with a sickening price tag.
Equally sickening were a number of politically charged zingers in his speech that were begging to be countered, such as, Let’s be the generation that finally frees America from the tyranny of oil. So here is the rational explanation for his refusing to take action on the Keystone XL pipeline while justifying hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars wasted on Solyndra and other alternative-energy programs benefiting his political cronies.
Then Obama expresses his patriotism, saying, Most of all, let’s be the generation that never forgets what happened on that September day and confront the terrorists with everything we’ve got. Wouldn’t you love for the Pentagon to render a current opinion on that statement?
Obama ends his announcement speech saying, Together, starting today, let us finish the work that needs to be done, and usher in a new birth of freedom on this earth. To that I say, “Kumbaya, Mr. President!” The potential for ushering in a “new birth of freedom on this earth” has never been less attainable, thanks to your avoiding the traditionally strong U.S. presidential leadership role, leaving a world power vacuum in which bad guys and turmoil have flourished.
So, happy eighth anniversary to a speech that started freshman senator Obama on his excellent adventure of over 215 golf outings (including one immediately after he had described as “appalling” the beheading of American journalist James Foley), non-stop fundraising, exotic vacations, and cavorting with celebrities.
His is a journey that will leave our next president with insurmountable problems at home and abroad.
Republicans in 2016 can only hope that Hillary Clinton will run for “Obama’s third term.” If she tries to escape his legacy, the GOP must bind her to it.
Cross-posted at National Review Online