The New York Times editorial board entitled their traditional post-inaugural address commentary, “What President Trump Doesn’t Get About America.” What it reveals, however, is quite different. While one can reasonably expect an op-ed to lean in a particular direction and address policy differences, the editorial board’s main criticism of President Trump’s inauguration speech is centered on his, to their minds, unflattering portrait of America.
Seemingly still reeling from “their” loss in November, the board focuses on the parts of Trump’s speech that Obama could have easily read in his own first inauguration. Former president Obama’s 2009 inaugural address, however, was met with gushing enthusiasm for his unflattering portrait of America as “in decline” and “in crisis.”
The editorial begins by noting that Trump’s inaugural address was “graceless” in its presentation of America “losing its promise.”
President Trump presented such a graceless and disturbingly ahistoric vision of America on Friday that his Inaugural Address cast more doubt than hope on his presidency.
Instead of summoning the best in America’s ideals, Mr. Trump offered a fantastical version of America losing its promise, military dominance and middle-class wealth to “the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.”
With sweeping exaggeration, Mr. Trump spoke of “carnage” in the inner cities . . . .
This “fantastical version” of America is exactly what we see, and to a lesser degree, what we saw in ’09. Indeed, during his inaugural address, Obama waxed on about how Americans were suffering due to “a sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.”
For the past eight years, we haven’t seen any of that addressed. Instead, we’ve watched as our president purposefully dismantled our great nation’s promise, worked intently to diminish not only our military but our standing in the world, and somehow found time to spend on decimating the middle class.
From Obama’s promise to “stop the oceans from rising” to his global apology tour to his feckless foreign policy that empowered our enemies and insulted our allies to his signature legislation and the middle class taxes buried throughout, Obama has played a large role in hastening the very decline he castigated President Bush for in his 2009 inaugural address.
While the NYT waxes eloquent about Obama’s economic recovery and his jobs record, out here in America, we know it’s not true because we see it, feel it, live it. We know, too, that the number of people on food stamps is up nearly 40%, that real median income has dropped, that fewer Americans own homes, and that the number of Americans living in poverty is way up.
All of this in spite of Obama nearly doubling our national debt. When he took office, national debt was so high at $10.63 trillion that he called it “unpatriotic.” Fast forward to today, and our national debt is a staggering $19.96 trillion.
As to the military cuts, we are also familiar with these as Obama gutted our military, with the infamous plan to return the Army to pre-World War II levels and to make cuts across the armed forces, purged its upper ranks of military leaders who did not share his naive view of the world, and weakened it with his imposition of political correctness. As if that wasn’t bad enough, his micro-management of the military in the field resulted in incredibly stupid and dangerous rules of engagement; from ill-equipped and unarmed troops to pilots who had to request and wait for permission before doing their job.
We read about the astonishing murder rates in cities like Chicago, and we see 24/7 coverage of various organized SJW groups rioting, setting fires, overturning cars, looting, and chanting “pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon.”
Yet the NYT editorial board, ensconced in their privileged towers and sheltered from the reality we experience, found President Trump’s description “apocalyptic” and “distorted.”
It was hard to make sense of Mr. Trump’s distorted vision of America’s past and present. But the passion was familiar in his promise to “make America great again,” as if the nation were in despair and yearning to retreat somewhere with him. The crowd cheered him repeatedly, particularly when he vowed to “unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate from the face of the earth.”
Interestingly, Obama’s 2009 inaugural address painted a pretty bleak picture of “a nation in despair,” as well. He described it thusly:
That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.
These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.
Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time.
All of this is as true today as it was eight years ago, and much, if not all, of it is measurably and unnecessarily worse. Obama’s “version” of America, quite similar to President Trump’s, was hailed by the NYT editorial board in the most glowing, even fawning, terms.
They wrote of Obama’s 2009 Inaugural Address:
In his Inaugural Address, President Obama gave them the clarity and the respect for which all Americans have hungered. In about 20 minutes, he swept away eight years of President George Bush’s false choices and failed policies and promised to recommit to America’s most cherished ideals.
With Mr. Bush looking on (and we’d like to think feeling some remorse), President Obama declared: “On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn- out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics.”
By contrast, the NYT characterized Trump’s inauguration speech as “vainglorious” and “‘preening.”
Vainglorious on a podium where other presidents have presented themselves as fellow citizens, preening where they have been humble, Mr. Trump declared that under him America will “bring back our jobs” and “bring back our borders,” “bring back our wealth” and “bring back our dreams.” . . .
I don’t think that many would disagree that Trump has a sizable ego and shows only the rare flash of humility, but to hear a publication that has spent eight years carrying the water for one of the most narcissistic, self-involved presidents in our nation’s history decry Trump as “vainglorious” and “preening” is a bit much to swallow. I don’t recall Trump promising to stop the oceans from rising or to heal the planet; I don’t recall Trump snootily silencing the opposition party with “The election’s over. I won.”
Although bothered that Trump condemned the policies of presidents (and Congresses) that came before him, the NYT was particularly pleased when Obama condemned President Bush’s policies:
Mr. Obama was unsparing in condemning the failed ideology of uncontrolled markets. He said the current economic crisis showed how “without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control” and that the nation has to extend the reach of prosperity to “every willing heart, not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.”
After more than seven years of Mr. Bush’s using fear and xenophobia to justify a disastrous and unnecessary war, and undermine the most fundamental American rights, it was exhilarating to hear Mr. Obama reject “as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.”
They are not outraged on principle or merit that the incoming president blasted his predecessor in his presence; they are upset that Trump blasted Obama. In this, they forfeit the moral high ground and lose all credibility.
Obama’s first inaugural address was no less harsh, no less “dark” in painting a portrait of America than Trump’s. Indeed, in their descriptions of America, they could easily have read, with only minor revisions, from one another’s speeches. It’s in their solutions that these two presidents differ, yet it’s the solutions, the policy, the hard work from which the NYT editorial board scurries, grabbing instead the low-hanging fruit and embarrassing themselves in the process.
The institutional bias and irredeemably-blinkered, deeply hypocritical assessment of Trump as reflected in this piece is a new low for a publication that was once, quite literally, the most-respected newspaper in the Western world. The Gray Lady is no more, and truth be told, she seems to have died not on the date of their knee-jerk, infantile, and lazy 2017 inaugural address assessment but on or about January 2009.DONATE
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