Norvell Rose
Forget about striking the right tone when you're singing the wrong tune
By Norvell Rose
January 28, 2010

As is so often the case in Obama world, we can find our attention being diverted off of substance and onto style. The President and his parasites work to turn our attention from the true nature of a thing, to the shifting outline of its shadow. It's the dark art of the political pivot, practiced with daring cynicism.

The cooks who help Barack, the master chef, whip up his socialistic schemes try to shift our appetite for truth away from the meat of the matter and onto the gravy. Just listen to Obama's soaring oratory, they enthuse. Inspired! Transcendent!! Yet, upon further review, we find the lead actor's staged eloquence is only a thin mask for empty promises and freedom-threatening policies. As I've said before, it's the magician's sleight of hand, practiced with a liberal dose of bravado. Only now, thankfully, We the Audience are catching on to the cheap sideshow tricks.

(Author's Note: Chef . . . actor . . . magician. I realize that I can over-indulge in multiple metaphors. So get the picture of what works for you and kindly disregard the rest. At least, I am self-aware. And now, back to our commentary.)

In the aftermath of the President's State of the Union address, let's consider another case of misdirection in the media. Misdirection encouraged by the Obama spin machine, happy to engage us in a meaningless, diversionary debate. Oh, it sounds important enough; but it's sound and fury, signifying nothing.

I'm talking about "tone." The pointless preoccupation with tone.

Headline in the Washington Post, and scores of other newspapers that picked up the Post story: "Obama's State of the Union Address Takes a Harder Tone."

The after-speech question put to Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell on Fox News: "Did Obama hit the right tone?"

"Did Obama Set the Tone for Bipartisanship?" asks CBS News.

"President Obama Sets Positive Tone in State of the Union" — from the Common Progressive blog.

Then there's the Irish Sun web site, declaring, "No more war sets tone for State of the Union address."

Even the Flathead Beacon in Kalispell, Montana, polled its readers: "Did President Obama strike the right tone in his State of the Union address?"

And of course, if you watched the TV pundits, pollsters and pontificators analyzing the President's speech to Congress, you found a ton of time spent on political color commentary about Obama's all-important tone.

My take on the tone of the address? Who cares? The tone doesn't matter when the tune is all wrong.

And in the recycled rhetoric of his Wednesday night address, Barack Obama was singing the same ol' tired tune. Okay, maybe he modulated a couple of notes, but the sickening sound of this moldy oldie was unmistakable. And that constant refrain: "Me, me, me, me, me."

There was no real reboot, no hitting the reset button, no deft tack to the middle — not even the appearance of one. So, in light of the same ol' same ol', his defenders were forced to spend serious discussion time on tone.

Was Obama more aggressive? More insistent? Did he strike a conciliatory tone? Was he charming and disarming? More defiant than contrite? Humble yet not humbled? Has he spun up his base while spanking his critics? Is he coaxing with a cattle prod?

What does it really matter? Why bother with blather about whether the man's singing is slightly flat or a smidge too sharp, when the entire song is just plain wrong?

First verse — the economy. We could almost sing along with this tune by now. It's Bush's fault. The Obama stimulus has created a whole bunch of jobs. And now he wants to spend more money to create a bunch more. Oh, and did you hear the part about how the bad economy is Bush's fault?

Second verse — health care. Didn't this pitch sound like untold others we've heard? We've got to make care more accessible, more affordable, You know, push through the plan where we cover more people for less money, and ensure that those with insurance can keep it. Cue the Democrats' chorus of praise attempting to muffle reverberations from their Massacre in Massachusetts.

Third verse — transparency. Yikes. In terms of tune structure, this was indeed the bridge to nowhere.

Fourth — bashing big business, especially the banks.

Fifth — financial reform. Meaning, bashing big business, especially banks.

Sixth — energy and climate legislation. Cap-and-trade light. And could you believe the bit where he scolded skeptics of man-caused global warming? As though climate-gate and its flood of follow-on revelations of cheating and fudging and outright fraud haven't happened? I guess you could call this Obama's falsetto riff.

Seventh — education reform. In other words, further government intrusion into how our children are educated and how that gets funded.

And then, of course, that zippy refrain: "Me, me, me, me, me."

Followed by the drumbeat of bipartisanship. The proverbial finger-wagging, tongue-lashing of his Republican opponents. And Pelosi rises in rhythm with a high-five and hallelujah.

And who can forget how the President hit a scowling sour note on lobbyists. But wait, aren't those the very same pressure groupies with whom he's been singing sweet harmony?

Rapping, uh, wrapping the encore performance by hitting a note dear to die-hard liberals — getting rid of the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding gays and lesbians in the military. While it seemed strangely gratuitous, it did serve to let us know that this Obama classic could be updated with what you could call "an appropriate base lick." (I just couldn't resist.)

You know what, when it comes to Obama's State of the Union, I can name that sad tune in one note: F.

In his post-speech analysis, The Atlantic's Clive Cook wrote with not-so-subtle admiration of the President's performance: "The tone was uncompromising and often combative."

I hope Mr. Cook and others in the President's sycophantic chorus keep handy that same tonal description, "uncompromising and often combative." They're going to need it when they're forced to acknowledge the People's song of liberty has drowned out Obama's tune of tyranny.

© Norvell Rose


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

Norvell Rose

Norvell S. Rose is a veteran radio and TV journalist, writer, producer and director with five regional Emmy Awards to his credit. A Patriot with a rekindled passion for truth, honor, and liberty, Rose is a direct descendant of John Sevier — hero of the American Revolution, four times elected to Congress, and first governor of Tennessee. Rose lives with his wife and two children in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

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