Opinion

Obama’s hyped-up speech: Sound and fury, signifying zilch

It’s a sad little waste of time, really.

But once in a while, a couple days’ worth of New York Times stories can be worth looking at for sheer propaganda value, like Third Reich architecture.

Last week was one of those times, when a presidential speech – intended intended mainly as a diversion from the presidential embarrassments that occupied more honest journalism outlets – got the kind of treatment Stalin used to in the Five-Year-Plan days.

Here’s a sample of Times coverage of Thursday’s Obama speech on counterterrorism

“… in a long-awaited address on Thursday at the National Defense University …” – Scott Shane, May 21

“In his first major speech on counterterrorism of his second term …” -– Scott Shane, May 22

“In a much-anticipated speech at the National Defense University…” – Peter Baker, May 23

“President Obama, in one of his most significant speeches since taking office, did not simply declare an end to the post-9/11 era on Thursday.”– Mark Landler, May 25

“Now, as President Obama’s landmark policy speech on Thursday made clear …” – Declan Walsh, May 26

And what was it all for? A speech that will follow the much-ballyhooed “race” speech into the annals of forgotten Obama treasures. His speeches are like Super Bowls, almost always all hype, almost always completely forgettable. After Sunday’s television gas fests, which are focused on the speech instead of the scandals tarnishing the administration, this “major counterterrorism” garbage will disappear down the memory hole.

And instead of an occasionally entertaining Super Bowl half-time show, or “wardrobe dysfunction,” we get lines like this …

“This war, like all wars, must end. That’s what history advises. That’s what our democracy demands.”

Beyond the obvious truth that this war must come to an end — as all things must, one way or another — an emptier bunch of words is hard to find.

“That’s what history advises?”

That’s how Karl Marx used to write, except he would have capitalized History.

And he was better in the original German.

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