December 7th, 2015

Parsing Obama’s speech

Everybody’s analyzing the speech Obama gave last night. Its beauty or lack thereof was in the eye of the beholder, although even admirers of Obama weren’t what you’d call wildly enthusiastic.

But I’m going to do something nobody else is doing, as far as I’ve seen. I’m going to perform a very close reading of certain parts of his speech, in terms of the language Obama uses.

I’ve long noticed that, especially with Obama’s prepared speeches, he often says things that sound at first hearing as though they mean one thing but could also be interpreted a different way. Many years ago I came to the conclusion that these ambiguities were not a coincidence, nor did they reflect sloppy writing (particularly with speeches he considers important), but are instead intentionally placed there to influence his supporters in one way and his opponents in another way, but essentially to also allow him to later claim that he said whatever it is that he decides later that it was expedient for him to have been perceived as saying.

If that’s a mouthful (and it is), then so be it. Writers—and especially presidential speechwriters—fuss over every single word. Lawyers and law students fuss over words more than other people do, as well. Obama is both, and although you may think him nowhere near as smart as he thinks he is, he’s still able to understand and use the power of words quite well, and with prepared speeches he has time and assistance to do so with far more care than he does when speaking extemporaneously.

Quite a few listeners have commented that last night Obama finally owned up, not only to the fact that the San Bernardino shootings were terrorism, but for the first time he did the same about Ft. Hood and Chattanooga. My response is: perhaps, but I’m not so sure.

As an example, we have this comment by “Lizzy”:

The only surprise was that [Obama] rattled off the Ft. Hood and Chattanooga recruiting center shootings as terrorism – has he ever publicly admitted this before?

So let’s take a look at that quote on Ft. Hood and Chattanooga from Obama’s speech last night:

Over the last few years, however, the terrorist threat has evolved into a new phase. As we’ve become better at preventing complex, multifaceted attacks like 9/11, terrorists turned to less complicated acts of violence like the mass shootings that are all too common in our society. It is this type of attack that we saw at Fort Hood in 2009; in Chattanooga earlier this year; and now in San Bernardino.

It’s actually hard to know if Obama is really calling Chattanooga terrorism, and I’ll explain why. Parsing that statement I’ve just quoted, I’d interpret what Obama was saying this way:

Terrorists used to plan complicated attacks such as 9/11, but now they do simpler things that resemble mass shootings that are not terrorist attacks and that are very common in this country. Note that he’s cleverly slipped in a criticism of America as the mass murder capital, a point he’s always trying to make (falsely) and that I wrote about a few days ago here.

Then, when he follows with “It is this type of attack that we saw at Fort Hood in 2009,” what does “this type of attack” refer to? Notice that right before “it is this type of attack” he has referenced regular, non-terrorist mass shootings. So does “this” refers to new-style terrorist attacks, or regular mass shootings that he says are so common here? It is left open to the interpretation of the listener/reader.

Now, you might say this is merely awkward writing and the ambiguity is not intentional but is an error. I think these speeches are written very carefully and that the ambiguity is more likely to be purposeful. Is he calling Ft. Hood a terrorist attack? It seems that way, but it’s not totally clear. And this verbal reluctance to clearly call terrorist attacks terrorist attacks (never mind “Islamic terrorist attacks) is part of a long, long pattern of Obama’s that’s described here and is remarkably consistent.

What’s more, look at what he actually says about San Bernardino. It sounds as though he is calling the perpetrators “terrorists,” but he’s even dancing around that. Take this paragraph of his [the comments in brackets are mine]:

The FBI is still gathering the facts about what happened in San Bernardino, but here is what we know [he’s saying we are not sure of things; the jury is still out; everything he says is tentative]. The victims were brutally murdered and injured by one of their coworkers and his wife. So far, we have no evidence that the killers were directed by a terrorist organization overseas, or that they were part of a broader conspiracy here at home [so this is a disavowal of them as agents of ISIS or ISIL or Al Qaeda or part of any larger terrorist group; they are almost certainly lone wolves, according to him]. But it is clear that the two of them had gone down the dark path of radicalization, embracing a perverted interpretation of Islam that calls for war against America and the West [he does not name or describe this perverted interpretation, nor does he discuss the female terrorist’s recent immigration status and vetting despite her radicalism]. They had stockpiled assault weapons, ammunition, and pipe bombs [he does not mention the strong suspicion that they probably had assistance from a “larger terrorist group.” Again, he seems to be indicating they are lone wolves]. So this was an act of terrorism, designed to kill innocent people.

That last sentence is perhaps the most curious sentence of all in the speech. It’s the one where he finally seems to be admitting that San Bernadino represents terrorism. And so he is . However, if you read it carefully, you’ll see that he calls the killings an “act of terrorism” rather than saying something like “they were terrorists,” and the description that immediately follows seems to be that this act was “designed to kill innocent people.” But virtually all acts of murder, and all mass shootings, are “designed to kill innocent people”; although the murderers might think the victims deserved it, the rest of us recognize the victims’ innocence (except for Daily News writer Linda Stasi, but that’s another story). “Killing innocent people” is not really the distinguishing factor in terrorism, is it? The Columbine killers and the Sandy Hook killer certainly killed innocent people and their acts were “designed” to do so, but the perpetrators were not terrorists in the usual definition of the word.

So this “killing innocent people” phrase Obama has used ties into the other part of his speech where he discusses those non-terrorist “mass shootings that are all too common in our society.” In other words, even as he calls San Bernardino an “act of terrorism,” which would distinguish it from ordinary mass shootings, he follows that immediately with what seems like a definition of a non-terrorist mass shooting, thus again injecting an ambiguity that seems to equate the two somewhat.

In addition, by referring to the perpetrators’ actions and labeling them terrorism, he avoids labeling the perpetrators themselves terrorists. By so doing, he takes away some of the idea of agency once again. This shying away from attributing agency to terrorists is another marked characteristic of Obama’s that occurs often in his speeches. It’s also subtle but hardly accidental, and it all goes together to paint a picture. It’s not just that he didn’t say this was Islamic terrorism. It’s that he didn’t says the two perpetrators were terrorists.

I have studied many of Obama’s speeches over many years (usually in written form; I don’t ordinarily listen), and I’ve noticed these sorts of constructions over and over. So I don’t think I’m imagining this. For example, the same construction “act of terrorism” or “act of terror” was present in an especially ambiguous and generalized way in his famous Rose Garden speech post-Benghazi and is featured in the discussion of that speech in the second debate with Mitt Romney and Candy Crowley (I wrote about it here and here).

In last night’s speech, Obama also said:

And as groups like ISIL grew stronger amidst the chaos of war in Iraq and then Syria, and as the Internet erases the distance between countries, we see growing efforts by terrorists to poison the minds of people like the Boston Marathon bombers and the San Bernardino killers.

That’s certainly true; can’t argue with that. But note how, once again, he paints the Tsarnaev brothers and the Farook couple as more acted upon rather than acting. Their minds are “poisoned” by others. In addition, what does he mean by “people like” the Boston bombers and the San Bernardino killers? (Notice that in that sentence he again does not say “terrorists,” he calls them by the more generic words “bombers” and “killers.”)

What do/did these four people have in common? He doesn’t say, but I’ll tell you: all four are/were Muslims who were living in this country. One was born here (Farook) after his father emigrated here, and of the other three one came on a fiance visa and was vetted under the Obama administration, and the other two (the Tsarnaevs) came here prior to the Obama years as children in a program somewhat like the one Obama is touting for the Syrian refugees (technically it was asylum for the Tsarnaevs, because the family came originally on tourist visas and they later applied for and were granted asylum status). The older Tsarnaev brother also had been interviewed earlier by the FBI later on because of some suspicious behavior and passed (in addition, he had murdered before and was a known friend of the victims, but was never suspected). Farook had communicated with known terrorists who were being watched by this country but that seemed to raise no alarms whatsoever.

That was the kind of people they all were, and that was how the danger signs were missed. But Obama never specifies any of this because the consequences of pointing it out would be politically bad for him.

Commenter “Ann” also wrote about last night’s speech that, “[Obama] surprisingly did talk more directly about Muslims and radical Islam than I think he ever has before,” and “Dennis,” agreed somewhat: “Ann is correct that Obama appears to have admitted for the first time that ISIS is connected to Islam in some peripheral way. On the surface that appears to be progress but it is only a ruse.”

Well, I’m going to have to disagree with both Ann and Dennis about that. It is not the first time Obama has admitted this “in some peripheral way.” Ann quoted part of Obama’s speech last night to show this new admission by Obama:

We cannot turn against one another by letting this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam. That, too, is what groups like ISIL want. ISIL does not speak for Islam. They are thugs and killers. Part of a cult of death. And they account for a tiny fraction of a more than a billion Muslims around the world, including millions of patriotic Muslim-Americans who reject their hateful ideology.

Moreover, the vast majority of terrorist victims around the world are Muslim. If we’re to succeed in defeating terrorism, we must enlist Muslim communities as some of our strongest allies rather than push them away through suspicion and hate.

That does not mean denying the fact that an extremist ideology has spread within some Muslim communities. It’s a real problem that Muslims must confront without excuse.

Muslim leaders here and around the globe have to continue working with us to decisively and unequivocally reject the hateful ideology that groups like ISIL and Al Qaeda promote. To speak out against not just acts of violence, but also those interpretations of Islam that are incompatible with the values of religious tolerance, mutual respect, and human dignity.

In last night’s speech, Obama also referred to the San Bernardino perpetrators as having “embraced a perverted interpretation of Islam that calls for war against America and the West.”

But is this sort of thing really new for Obama? After just a minute or two of looking, I found this from a speech of Obama’s from February of 2015, just as an example:

Obama also said military force alone will not defeat terrorism, and the nation must work with local communities to reduce the influence of those who advocate violent extremism.

“They are not religious leaders,” Obama said. “They are terrorists.”

He also said: “We are not at war with Islam — we are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”

…Groups like the Islamic State and al-Qaeda “try to portray themselves as religious leaders, holy warriors in defense of Islam,” Obama said, but “we must never accept the premise that they put forward, because it is a lie.”

Obama also said Muslim communities have responsibilities to confront the abuse of religion.

“Of course, the terrorists do not speak for a billion Muslims who reject their ideology,” Obama said.

I see no particular difference between his rhetoric then and now, including the use of the phrase “embraced a perverted interpretation of Islam that calls for war against America and the West.” in his speech from February, and the words “we are at war with people who have perverted Islam” yesterday evening, and including the call for some responsibility on the part of ordinary Muslims to “confront” this (his February speech and last night’s speech were nearly identical in that regard).

And that’s just one speech from Obama’s past. My guess is that if I wanted to devote a ton of time to this quest, I could probably find more.

With Obama, appearances can be deceptive, as most of you surely know.

58 Responses to “Parsing Obama’s speech”

  1. Cornhead Says:

    Obama speaks out of both sides of his mouth.

    And he uses so much straw to build and set up straw men that we are in danger of running out of straw.

    But I want to know is why he called on Congress for a declaration of war against ISIS?

    Is he violating the War Powers Act?

    Is he conducting an illegal war?

  2. neo-neocon Says:


    Obama speaks with forked tongue.

  3. sdferr Says:

    Should we notice that he says the “terrorist threat has evolved into a new phase” and yet never distinguishes the terrorists’ means and ends? He speaks of means: he says practically nothing of ends.

  4. J.J. Says:

    Cornhead: “But I want to know is why he called on Congress for a declaration of war against ISIS?”

    Fox had a Congressman from New York (R – don’t recall his name) on last night analyzing the speech. When asked about a Congressional vote on his request for authorizing military force in Iraq and Syria, the language in the request would tie the hands of the military even more than they are now. If true, it would certainly fit Obama’s MO. He has a Congressional authorization to use force from the Bush administration. IIRC, nothing new is really required.

  5. Cornhead Says:


    Makes sense. Blame shifting for failure onto Congress. That is Barack’s MO.

    Also a shiny object to distract the media and suck up air time.

  6. ArtfldgrsGhost Says:

    Neuro-Linguistic Programming (brought up before here)

    there USED to be an article up at the AAPS
    [Association of American Physicians and Surgeons]
    Oratory—or hypnotic induction? – 10/25/08

    You can find it listed on the AAPS website, but if you follow the link you get an obamacare article isntead.

    I said long time ago to look at this kind of thing…
    and that i recognized him doing it, of course, this is the realm of tin hatters like the AAPS… but why would we want to learn this kind of thing in opposition to people using it?

    ultimatly, neo is examing this kind of speech but without regard to the sciecne behind it thinking it a curiosity…
    [edited for length by n-n]

  7. T Says:


    A perceptive analysis, and IMO you are precisely correct. Obama is, at heart, classic con artist and he is running a game, a very dangerous game, on the American public. He perhaps seems to be the best con-artist we’ve ever seen, but (again IMO) much of that is because he has the media carrying water for him. Had the media vetted him as though he were a Republican, he would have never made it out of the senate.

    Damn them all to Hell, including the David Brookses, the Kathleen Parkers and the Peggy Noonans, all of whom were complicit in this charade.

  8. neo-neocon Says:


    I already know about NLP and have read quite a bit about it (including that very lengthy article on Obama and NLP, which I believe I linked to somewhere but don’t have time to look for it now). I don’t think it adds too much to the discussion, although I think some of the points it makes are right on about Obama.

  9. J.J. Says:

    Such a pity that each and every word Obama utters has to be analyzed for its content. His mendacity is so far beyond anything I have seen in a politician in my lifetime, it just follows like night follows day.

    Nothing new, except he has authorized more SOFs raids on ISIS leaders. Thus an increase in SOFs in Iraq and Syria. It’s deja’ vu all over again. Remember the primary strategy against al Qaeda in Iraq during pre-surge operations was SOFs raids on jihadi houses and hideouts to kill their leaders. It wasn’t working. Patraeus brought in a new strategy of seize, stabilize and control of territory (The ink blot strategy.) That, along with the Anbar Awakening, resulted in defeating al Qaeda in Iraq by 2008. IMO, such a strategy will be necessary to be successful against ISIS. That means boots on the ground.

    The SOFs teams played a big part in the seize part of the equation in places like Ramadi and Mosul during the surge. The stabilize and hold measures can best be done by regular troops and police. (And these could be Kurds and other friendly Sunni Muslim troops.)

    Obama could learn much from “Extreme Ownership,” by Jocko Willink and Jed Babin. In that book these two former SEALs tell the story of retaking Ramadi. Woven into that story are the leadership principles that allowed them to win in vicious urban combat while minimizing allied casualties.

    One of their principles from “Extreme Ownership” that Obama could profit from: “Total responsibility for failure is a difficult thing to accept, and taking ownership when things go wrong requires extraordinary humility and courage. But doing just that is an absolute necessity to learning, growing as a leader, and improving the team’s performance.” Yep!

    The awful part is Obama is incapable/unwilling of doing what is needed by a leader of the free world. We are on our own until such time as we can elect a real warrior as our leader

  10. T Says:


    “. . . taking ownership when things go wrong requires extraordinary humility and courage.”

    Both of which are lacking in this deplorable excuse for an American and a president. For him to learn humility and courage would require Obama to avert his gaze from his own navel, but “fish don’t know he’s wet!”

  11. ArtfldgrsGhost Says:

    Dr Erickson discovered while working as a therapist, that he could hide therapeutic hypnosis within the normal content of an inconspicious conversation with the patient, and avoid much of the patients concious resistance that normally accompanies therapy.

    Dr Erickson realized that the unconscience was always listening, even if the conscience wasnt… He discovered that people could achieve a heightened stazte of suggestibility without induction. there is nothing to give away that hypnosis is being used, and its impossible to detect unless you know what to look for (simplified versions of this are used in salesperson courses, and as i mentioned in the PUA area to seduce women)

    its purpose is to sideline rational judgment

    if obama lies openly and easily, we could use our logical judgment to compare and then negate his lie, but he doesnt (at least not often). by using NLP he gets to put stuff into the heads of those who are more suggestible, without their mental police standing in the way of it. to those that study this stuff, this is a VERY immoral act, as its playing with peoples minds without their knowlege or permission

    to quote an article on it: The passion people feel for obama seems real, because it comes from deep inside them. thuse logical argument becomes irrelevant. to all those who were wondering what the impaired rational judgment of millions looks like, here it is. it doesnt matter that he has no accomplishments, never takes hard positions, or changes to opposite positions from almost one day to the next, or has long term connections to extremists, racists, and other shady people, is indorsed by iran and hammas, and says he didnt know the character of his own pastor and mentors for decades. the logic of this disturbing information is on the conscience level, and does not change how his supporters feel internally.

    the US supreme court case on this was Leyra V Denno in which after exhausting a person in questioning, the police then employed a hypnotist who then got the subjec to confess. the court basically said his confession could not be used in court. they “were so clearly the product of mental coercion, that their use as evidence was inconsistent with the due process of law”

    what is he doing? well, neo is trying to discover it, but again, without the knowlege of what it is she is examining and what is or not pertinent to it!!! Things like “pacing and leading”

    Given that this is a subject for whole college courses and a whole section of a library, and neo will cut me down if its too long… or redundant… (ie. more than one post on the same item), i am limited in what i can show that i have watched for ages.

    The stuff we hear him say is “surface structure” but what you or others who want to learn whats going on need to do is understand “deep structure” – what the subject sees, hears, and experiences – what is designed for our subconscience.

    but neo misses that and she even told us why: She READS his speeches and does not experience them (usually).

  12. ArtfldgrsGhost Says:

    i risk being too long and cut down giving an example (and a very cut down one that may not appear enough to convince people).

    Over the last few years, however, the terrorist threat has evolved into a new phase.
    is a pacing phrase, something oncontrovertibly true and part of the subjects ongoing experience. he will have used other such phrases before this, as its the collection of truths that make us put our guard down mentally.

    (i was taught to use this to sell theater tickets to strangers on the street which we induced to give us their credit cards by just walking up and asking them questions!!!!)

    after this pacing, their will come a “lead” that will use connecting language, or linking language.

    As we’ve become better at preventing complex, multifaceted attacks like 9/11, terrorists turned to less complicated acts of violence like the mass shootings that are all too common in our society.

    the first part is the lead, the second part is the untrue thing that he wants you to believe which then leads you to accept other things he wants to link

    It is this type of attack that we saw at Fort Hood in 2009; in Chattanooga earlier this year; and now in San Bernardino.

    remember, it doesnt matter if he is now admitting something, that is not what people are thinking in their experience, its a logical fact you have to stop and think of.

    in essence the true first part is the pacing, the other part is linking that to the false idea that the terrorists are doing something new and copying what we americans have been doing for ages (again, ignoring history and logic), then linking this american thing with the actions that came before and using links that are in increasing emotional value.

    the set up (unconsciencely) is that if we take care of the american problem, it will solve the other problem

    ie. its a play for gun control at the unconscience level
    [edited for length by n-n]

  13. Lizzy Says:

    Great catch, Neo, I was totally fooled by his verbal tricks. Ugh. Didn’t think I could be anymore disgusted by him that I was last night.
    * * *

    Your analysis is also more in line with his overall affect and delivery last night. I know you don’t watch the speeches, but lately, he’s like a train wreck in slow motion. You could watch him w/the mute on to get an idea of his weirdness. Is this narcissistic rage plus some health and/or drug issues coming to a head?

    Regardless of his goals for the debasement of America, he is clearly not coping well with the consequences. He exudes annoyance with the requirement he publicly address critics of things like the domestic terrorism, the inexplicable Syrian refugee policy, etc.. As one who has reveled in the power & pageantry of the presidency, he apparently did not expect his withdrawing American power from world affairs to make him so irrelevant in the process. Think he expected to ride out the rest of his term being the beloved president making big speeches at world leader forums overseas, and staying busy with ceremonial and celebrity activities here at home, while the next guy/gal is left with the mess. His last months in office are going to be a wild ride.

  14. neo-neocon Says:


    I am busy and away from my regular computer and will edit your remarks in a little while because yes, they are too long.

    You also continue to make incorrect assumptions about me. For example, you may or may not be aware that Erickson was a seminal figure in marriage and family therapy and that I had a lot of exposure to his work in my degree program. In addition, although I have stopped watching Obama’s speeches in recent years for the most part, I watched plenty of them in his 2008 campaign and in the earlier years of his presidency and am well aware of his gestures, tone, body language, etc. I also usually watch a few minutes of each speech (as I did last night) before I mute it or turn it off.

  15. neo-neocon Says:


    As I mentioned in the comment above this one, I usually watch a few minutes of each speech of Obama’s to get a sense of his demeanor. Last night I thought he looked tired. Of course, he’s 7 years older than in 2008, so there’s that. But I actually think he’s bored, too. He considers these attacks a pesky nuisance and is annoyed that people are upset enough to question his judgment and force him to re-state the obvious truths of his position that he thinks are self-evident. It is tiresome to him, but I don’t think his narcissistic faith in himself has sustained more than a very mild blow. I don’t see any questioning of his own judgment on his part, and I actually don’t think him capable of it.

  16. Ann Says:

    Your parsing of that “mass shootings” paragraph is perfect, Neo. What Obama did there had completely passed by me before.

    I still think, though, that last night he went beyond what he’s said before about Islam and terrorism, in particular in this sentence:

    Muslim leaders here and around the globe have to continue working with us to decisively and unequivocally reject the hateful ideology that groups like ISIL and al Qaeda promote; to speak out against not just acts of violence, but also those interpretations of Islam that are incompatible with the values of religious tolerance, mutual respect, and human dignity.

    That last part about “those interpretations of Islam that are incompatible with the values of religious tolerance, mutual respect, and human dignity” is new, isn’t it? Also, when you watch him deliver that part, he seems engaged and like he actually means it.

  17. Lizzy Says:

    OK, I agree that his narcissistic faith in himself has not been harmed, but there is some weirdness going on.

    Maybe he’s so bored he’s no longer paying attention, and he’s treating that boredom with drugs? His affect has changed, and it seems like more than boredom and annoyance to me.

  18. y81 Says:

    I don’t know quite what Obama intends, but I do know that, as a legal matter, courts are not too sympathetic to carefully constructed ambiguities that could conceivably bear a meaning different from the natural interpretation. Bill Clinton learned this lesson the hard way: clever private definitions of words don’t get you out of a perjury conviction. Richard Posner, in his book on the Clinton case, collects a number of perjury cases, demonstrating what I have said.

    Now obviously, you can’t be prosecuted for perjury based on a political speech. But the natural import of Obama’s words in the author’s first example above is that the Fort Hood and Chattanooga attacks were episodes of terrorism. If he were making statements under oath, the court would hold him to that interpretation.

  19. sdferr Says:

    Where did “the values of religious tolerance” arise? In the historical experience of Christianity, quite possibly not to be found compatible with the Allah dictated principles of Islam. But why would Obama know that?

  20. Frog Says:

    Well, in a flurry of legal-type word dissections, what have we learned that we didn’t already know?

    Not much. In fact, nothing.

  21. Frog Says:

    That is to say, some of us are loathe to apply the word “Evil” to Barack Hussein Obama.
    The bottom line matters. The dissections don’t really help us get there all that much. Notice how that four letter word, Iran, has sunk from view.

  22. Steve57 Says:

    “I have studied many of Obama’s speeches over many years (usually in written form; I don’t ordinarily listen), and I’ve noticed these sorts of constructions over and over. So I don’t think I’m imagining this.”

    I don’t see how anybody could believe you’re imagining this, neo. The best example of this sort of construction isn’t actually Obama and his speeches, but Hillary Clinton and her statements about Benghazi.

    Her statements in the immediate aftermath of Benghazi were intended to give the impression she was blaming the attack on a video. But as she testified in October, she never actually said that the video was the cause of the attack, but rather she said things like, “some have sought to justify this violence on a hateful anti-Muslim video…”

    And in the most recent release of emails we find a back and forth between Clinton and her staff just after Susan Rice went on those infamous five Sunday talk shows. Clinton was fretting she had gone too far in supporting the administration lie. She asked her staff to compile a list of each of her statements and review them.

    Need I say, no honest person would do this.

    Her staff reviewed her statements and reassured her that she didn’t actually lie. Each sentence, when taken in isolation, was technically true. Of course, it would have been a careless listener’s fault entirely if they assumed that just because one sentence follows another, that string of sentences was all expressing a single thought. Rather, each sentence had its own separate meaning, as you are demonstrating in your analysis.

    And your analysis is masterful. But I still think, if you are inclined, you may want to do a post on Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi statements. Given her statements then, her testimony this October about how she didn’t actually say what everyone thought she said (by design), and the emails she has been forced to release showing just how carefully she and her staff crafted those statements, that episode provides more of a textbook example of how these people deceive.

  23. Steve57 Says:

    Can I say, “masterful?” I may have used a triggerword because according to the crybullying SJWs at Yale the word master is steeped in overtones of slavery.

    Gee, I certainly hope I didn’t violate anybody’s safe space with that microaggression.

  24. parker Says:

    Interesting and thoughtful analysis neo.

    “They are not religious leaders” so says the sun king! Except for all those religious leaders who shout death to America, death to Israel, and urge their followers to act like fiendish barbarians as they sell women into rape slavery, kill babies, and a host of other vile acts. Perhaps that explains why bho never heard the rev wright spew his hatred… he always right in front of your eyes and ears.

  25. Doodad Says:

    “During the intense back and forth among speech writers and Jarrett, was a moment where Barack Obama is said to have pointed defiantly at Jarrett and declared, “This (San Bernardino attack) is just as much an Israel problem as it is a gun problem! Nobody wants to say it, but it’s true!”

    Allegedly uttered by Obama during prep for last night’s speech to the nation.

  26. Steve57 Says:

    As an aside, if I were a member of the WH press corps I’d raise these two sentences with Josh Earnest and force him to concede that these two sentences are connected; that they are expressing a single thought (i.e. that the second sentence is referring to a responsibility to speak out that belongs to the Muslim leaders who have to continue working with us mentioned in the first sentence):

    “Muslim leaders here and around the globe have to continue working with us to decisively and unequivocally reject the hateful ideology that groups like ISIL and Al Qaeda promote. To speak out against not just acts of violence, but also those interpretations of Islam that are incompatible with the values of religious tolerance, mutual respect, and human dignity.”

    My follow on question:

    “Why would Muslim leaders want to work with us, given that this administration just gave Iran billions of dollars and cleared a path for them to get nuclear weapons despite the the fact the Mullahs preach an ideology just as hateful as ISIS. This administration not only negotiated with them but gave them every concession they demanded and declared it entirely irrelevant that their interpretation of Islam is completely incompatible with notions of religious tolerance, mutual respect, and human dignity. Why should anyone listen to what this President says, instead of following the opposite example of the Iranians who have succeeded in getting everything they want?”

  27. Eric Says:

    Cornhead, JJ,

    The US President already holds redundant layers of legal authority to conduct counter-terrorism, more with anti-ISIS counter-terrorism in particular.

    I summarize the issue here with a quasi-Socratic meandering unpacking of the issue here (skip ahead to the highlighted updates if you prefer to avoid confusion).

  28. Eric Says:

    JJ: “IMO, such a strategy [COIN “Surge”] will be necessary to be successful against ISIS. That means boots on the ground.”

    Yep. The hand-wringing over what to do about ISIS comes from the studious avoidance of the obvious proven solution: the OIF COIN “Surge”.

    Which is not to say we can simply pick up where President Obama left off with Iraq, but the COIN “Surge” model is the necessary starting point to formulate a sincere prescription.

    They know it over there because they lived it. This WSJ article reports that Iraqis don’t believe the US wants to defeat ISIS because of Iraq’s recent experience with the US defeat of AQI.

    To restore the OIF COIN “Surge” option in the Overton Window, de-stigmatize OIF, discredit the false narrative (and false narrators), and set the record straight to re-normalize the ‘strong horse’ type of American leadership that manifested with OIF.

  29. sdferr Says:

    Steven Hayward at Powerline takes up another phrase in Obama’s speech for analysis: The Laziest Liberal Argument: “The side of History”

    Hayward quotes at long paragraph length from a Leo Strauss lecture titled “Progress or Return“.

    As it happens, Bill Kristol released a new conversation with Professor Harvey Mansfield today (the sixth in a series), which amounts to a long gloss on the paragraph Mr. Hayward quotes.

  30. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “Muslim leaders here and around the globe have to continue working with us to decisively and unequivocally reject the hateful ideology that groups like ISIL and Al Qaeda promote. To speak out against not just acts of violence, but also those interpretations of Islam that are incompatible with the values of religious tolerance, mutual respect, and human dignity.” Barack Obama

    Here is perhaps the gravest example of the obfuscation of which neo speaks. Any fair minded, objective reading of Islam cannot but reach the conclusion that Islam itself, at the most fundamental of levels… is “incompatible with the values of religious tolerance, mutual respect, and human dignity”

    No ‘interpretation’ needed. The only difference between the Saudi’s and ISIS is the methodology favored. ISIS favors conquest through the sword, the Saudi’s through ‘stealth’ jihad and the Hijrah.

    But the goal is the same; Islam ruling the world.

  31. G6loq Says:

    My mother was a mmm..:
    Here @2:00


  32. Richard Saunders Says:

    Not to worry Artfl, I’ll condense it for you: The sheep want to believe there are no wolves, therefore they produce “educators” and “leaders” who lull them into believing there are no wolves., so they can keep believing there are no wolves, so they can produce more “educators” and “leaders” who keep lulling them, and so on and on and on . . . Until the wolves are at the door. Then it’s too late, and the sheep get eaten.

  33. Bob Says:

    Two things:

    First, there is nothing I like about the man Obama or his philosophies and world view. Nevertheless, what he’s doing is not unique to him. I love this analysis, Neo, but it reminded me how the Federal Reserve OMC announcements are equally crafted with precision and care, and equally dissected like this by financial analysts trying to find out “what they really mean”.

    If I could pick my favorite person for President, or was benevolent dictator myself, I would hire the best speechwriters as well to do the same thing. The general population is not sufficiently educated and trained to handle clear, explicit truth. They have to be manipulated to maintain civil order.

    So thank you for dissecting, for sure, b/c the truth is important. And yes, I believe his solutions and strategies are weak and ineffective. But the tools he uses to do his dastardly deeds are not themselves evil. It’s the ideas behind them. Well, like guns, right? Evil is in the hands of the handler.

    Second, I haven’t seen anyone call him to account for his lack of holding the media and Muslim leaders accountable for their silence. Either the media isn’t promoting substantive sound bites of peace-loving Muslim leaders, or they aren’t coming out to begin with, or there are very few willing to speak out against their murderous brothers. I’m not a Muslim, so they can’t expect me to understand in a vacuum of evidence. I only understand what I hear, and I’m not hearing anything except denial:

    “We don’t believe that. Islam doesn’t teach that.”
    Well, what do you believe, and what do you teach?”
    “Not that.”
    “Then what?”
    “But it says ‘<pick your favorite cut-them-asunder quote>’. That’s violent, not peaceful”
    “But that’s not what it means.”
    “What does it mean, then?”
    “Not what they are doing.”
    “Then what?”
    “Not that.”

    Until the voice of Islam can speak out clearly, decisively, and with direct counter interpretations in the public realm, reasonable people should believe their eyes, not their ears. If they can’t fight the war of words with their own people effectively (in particular), and with the public (in general), then their claims of peace are irrelevant.

  34. Cornhead Says:


    I knew Obama had full legal authority to conduct the war but he doesn’t want to conduct it. Or at least not effective war.

    So the only conclusion I can draw is that he just wants to distract and create a red herring. Thankfully Congress won’t take up this distraction. Not even Sanders and Wasserman Schultz are bringing up a war resolution. Maybe loons Maddow and Hayes will do a segment on their low rated shows.

  35. starlord Says:

    I’m trying to understand how this analysis revealed a cleverly ambiguous intent on the part of Obama – as you’ve outlined in great detail. It’s the same kind of things he’s always said, in the same way; and pretty directly if you ask me. Judging by the reaction on most social websites, it wasn’t terribly confusing to most people where he stood — exactly the same, blaming the same people, etc. That was pretty clearly conveyed in his speech, precisely by the things you’ve broken down.
    So If he was trying to disguise how he feels about America to us in that speech, while also attempting to appear tough on terror, he did a pretty hack job of it.
    Just my opinion, but I think you see far more cleverness than actually exists. The reaction to his speech was largely negative, so I’m not sure why you feel he was crafty and deceptive beyond the ability of the average citizen to grasp. After 8 years of the clown, you can (or I can) pretty much write what he’s going to says it.

  36. Cornhead Says:


    One of the recent “hate” crimes against Muslims was in Omaha when a single person spray painted a peace sign with an Effiel Tower on a mosque.

    The Muslim in Chief called for an FBI investigation but there was no condemnation of the killings in Paris or California.

  37. Cornhead Says:

    Oops. I stand corrected. A condemnation of killing in the name of Islam.

  38. Prospector Says:

    I’m just so glad he didn’t refer to the IS terrorists as “folks”.

  39. Eric Says:

    Cornhead: “So the only conclusion I can draw is that he just wants to distract and create a red herring.”


    Worse than that, as JJ points out, the resolution that’s been proposed reduces the range of action.

    Under Bush, the US spent a lot of blood and treasure to learn the method to win. Instead of building on it, his successor has worked to stigmatize and undermine it.

  40. Geoffrey Britain Says:


    Neither education nor training are needed to handle clear, explicit truth. Education and training are needed to handle sophisticated untruths.

  41. J.J. Says:

    For another royal fisking of an Obama speech watch this video. (2 minutes 55 secs.):

    He prevaricates with such conviction. It is stupefying!

  42. neo-neocon Says:


    I’ve already said that most people on the right couldn’t stand his speech, but the left thought it was laudable although not overly wonderful. So there’s no change there.

    Nor do I think the things I list in this post are important hidden messages that signal something everyone must pay close attention to. But how he uses language to obfuscate and misdirect has always interested me.

    My point was simply that even the small concessions people thought he made (such as the idea that he finally called the Chattanooga and Ft. Hood perps “terrorists”) were not really made in any sort of straightforward manner. We have gotten so used to his circumlocutions, vagueness, and insinuations of something more, that quite a few people on this blog (and many other blogs on the right that I looked at last night) seemed to think he said more than he really said.

    This whole post was merely a way of saying “careful—he’s not even saying the few small things you think he’s saying.”

    I’m kind of amazed at how relentless he is at doing this. So relentless that even people who can’t stand him sometimes give him more credit than he deserves.

  43. G6loq Says:

    Obama on San Bernadino: “This is just as much an Israel problem as it is a gun problem! Nobody wants to say it, but it’s true!”

    We analyze and parse, they have their hands on the controls …

  44. neo-neocon Says:


    I just noticed you wrote at the end: “After 8 years of the clown, you can (or I can) pretty much write what he’s going to says it.”

    In fact, I did just that, or pretty close to it.

  45. neo-neocon Says:


    Yes. When last I checked, this was a blog, not Command Central.

  46. neo-neocon Says:


    I did one post on Hillary’s famous “what difference does it make” statement. See this.

  47. neo-neocon Says:


    You write, “Bill Clinton learned this lesson the hard way: clever private definitions of words don’t get you out of a perjury conviction.”

    No, they don’t, but Bill Clinton did NOT use a “clever private definition of words” in his Paula Jones deposition. In fact, he was very careful to use exactly and precisely the definition of words the court was using.

    And by the way, Clinton was not convicted of perjury. It is a common misconception that he was. I have written at some length about this issue, so I refer you to this comment of mine and follow the links and instructions there for reading the comment thread, because it’s a fairly lengthy discussion. Also see this.

  48. Cornhead Says:

    Mohammed’s greatest con and insight was calling his thing a religion. It’s not. It’s a social-political-legal system. No real religion is in the murdering and conquering business.

    What’s so great about this aspect of the con game is that Islam can use our freedom of religion in our Bill of Rights against us. Example: We don’t bomb mosques in war so they hide out there. No freedom of religion in the Muslim world. Convert, obey or die.

    I’m in a tiny minority but the sooner we stop calling Islam a religion the sooner the problem is solved. But it will never happen so the next best thing is just disassociate and distance our country from Islam. Churchill was right. Islam is the most retrograde force in the world.

    Aside: After Obama referred to our great Muslim sports heroes I looked at Wikipedia. The two you would suspect. That’s it. Also depicted in wiki was the detestable Keith Ellison and Malcom Little of Omaha. Malcom X. Omaha’s contribution to insanity. Thankfully the Nation of Islam is nothing in Omaha.

  49. Orson Says:

    No wonder The One is electing Donald Trump president.

    I could not complete reading neo’s animadversions of Dear Leader’s propaganda.

    But only reading a little had added to my pro-Trump pile, as well as the force of my desire to see His memory eviscerated.

  50. Orson Says:

    And apparently Lt Col Ralph Peters is suspended from Fox for two weeks for calling Obama a “pussy.”

    He further said that the American people are not fearful, but enraged at Him. And I number among those so raging at his pusillanimity.

  51. Beverly Says:

    Obama reminds me of a slime mold I found in an old house once (only he’s a less interesting organism).

    What laser-brain said a few years ago that we’d reached the end of history?

  52. Sam Says:

    I noticed the same thing in his Paris speech, where he said things like the Colorado shooting don’t happen in other places, then condemned terrorist attacks.
    Of course that could turn on him, as it means he has declared the Colorado incident to be an “ordinary” mass shooting/murder/crime, and not a terrorist attack.

  53. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Over @ Charles Hurt asks, “Is It Time to Invoke the 25th Amendment?”

    Of course, Obama is neither going to resign nor will he be removed but Hurt does point out just how badly Obama stumbled through that speech;

    “If you are one of the millions and millions of literate Americans out there who have simply tuned this president out the past three or four years, that is certainly understandable. But if you tuned in to the long, rambling, empty press conference, you would have been truly alarmed.

    Without the use of the teleprompter, his speech can be described only as “halting.” It was impossible to count the number of times he seized up, able to deaden the silence with only a drawn-out “uh,” “um” or “ahhh.”

    The White House dutifully scrubbed all the halts and stutters from the official transcript, and it was impossible to count them in real time. But a sample of his incoherent word salad found him stuttering about every 15 words, which comes to more than 330 “uh-um-ahhs” in a single appearance.

    Reportedly, Obama had to be (metaphorically) dragged, kicking and screaming to make that speech. Evidently it showed.

    As Americans start to die in the coming jihadist terrorist attacks, Obama is going to be forced to confront the utter failure of his Presidency.

  54. sdferr Says:

    Forced to confront his failure, or privately celebrate his success?

  55. davisbr Says:

    Brilliant, neo. Simply brilliant.

    …I otoh, quite obviously, wasn’t paying nearly close enough attention.

  56. M J R Says:

    Beverly, 1:08 am — “What laser-brain said a few years ago that we’d reached the end of history?”

    Francis Fukuyama

    “The End of History and the Last Man”

  57. Obama’s speech highlights why it’s hard to have an intelligent political debate with Progressives | H2o Positivo Says:

    […] terrorism (although Obama hastened to add that it wasn’t really Islamic and Neo-Neocon thinks he may not even have said it was terrorism), and hectoring in the end when he scolded Americans about their prejudice, which they’ve […]

  58. Steve57 Says:

    neo-neocon @ December 7th, 2015 at 11:32 pm said:


    I did one post on Hillary’s famous “what difference does it make” statement…”

    I appreciate that analysis, neo. But what I was driving at is that the evolution and revelations lays bare just how the sausage is made.

    “…Sullivan compiled a list of all the public statements Clinton had made about Benghazi up to that date so she could remember exactly what she had said so far…”

    You had expressed concern that people might think you were imagining things, that the awkward phrasing was just an accident, etc. But the documents the DoS has been forced to release demonstrate that you’re imagining nothing. The ambiguity is very much intentional.

    Basically the Clinton inner circle provides all the post-game analysis you need to show that nothing your are saying is off base. In their own words, we have the evidence.

    Obama does the same thing but we won’t see their documents, if we have them, for another 50 years.

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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