Tags: noonan | inaction | obama | speech

Noonan: 'No One's Really Listening to the President Now'

Image: Noonan: 'No One's Really Listening to the President Now'

By Lisa Barron   |   Friday, 24 Jan 2014 10:38 AM

As President Barack Obama prepares for his State of the Union address Tuesday night, he has already lost his audience, says Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan.

"When I imagine Barack Obama's State of the Union, I see a handsome, dignified man standing at the podium and behind him Joe Biden, sleeping. And next to him John Boehner, snoring. And arrayed before the president the members, napping," Noonan wrote Thursday.

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"No one's really listening to the president now. He has been for five years a nonstop wind-up talk machine. Most of it has been facile, bland, the same rounded words and rounded sentiments, the same soft accusations and excuses."

Noonan continued, "Looking back on this presidency, it has from the beginning been a 17,000 word New Yorker piece in which, calmly, sonorously, with his lovely intelligent voice, the president says nothing, or little that is helpful, insightful or believable."

Noonan, once a speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan, said she's still waiting for Obama to rally the country like other presidents before him facing difficult times.

"JFK's father thought his son's first State of the Union was better than his Inaugural Address. It had a warmth," she noted. "LBJ taking the reins in 1964: 'Let this session of Congress be known as the session which did more for civil rights than the last hundred sessions combined.' . . . Nixon enjoyed dilating on history, and was interesting when he did . . . Reagan dazzled, though he told his diary he never got used to it."

"History still beckons, waiting to be made," she continued. "The great unstated question of today: Can America come back, reclaim her old spirit, confidence and joy, can we make things again, build them, grow, create, push out into the new?

"And here I think: Oh dear."

Noonan pointed to Obama's recent speech outlining his suggested changes to the National Security Agency's surveillance programs as evidence that many Americans have already tuned him out.

"Pew Research found half of those polled didn't notice . . . Of the 1 in 10 who'd followed it, more than 70 percent doubted his proposals would help protect privacy."

But Obama, she says, faces a tougher audience Jan. 28 now that his signature healthcare reform law is a reality.

"The bigger problem is that the president stands up there Tuesday night with Obamacare not a hazy promise but a fact. People now know it was badly thought, badly written and disastrously executed," she said, adding: "When the central domestic fact of your presidency was a fraud, people won't listen to you anymore."

"You know when we will know America is starting to come back? When some day the sergeant at arms bellows: 'Mr. Speaker, the president of the United States' and the camera shows a bubble of suits and one person emerges from the pack and walks into the chamber and you're watching at home and you find yourself — against everything you know, against all the accumulated knowledge of the past — interested," Noonan continued.

"And the president will speak, and what he says will be pertinent to the problems of the United States of America. And thoughtful. And he'll offer ideas, and you'll think: 'Hey, that sounds right.'"

"Until then, as [Slate chief political writer] John Dickerson just put it: Barack Obama, Inaction Figure. Zzzzzz," she concluded.

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