Thursday, October 03, 2013

The Next Best Thing to Being There

Follow up on my post from last week about the Debt Concern Theater performance of then Sen. Barack Obama on March 16, 2006.   As you may recall, while indignantly voting against increasing the debt ceiling back then (when it was a measly $8.6 trillion), he said such things as:
The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. 
If Washington were serious about honest tax relief in this country, we would see an effort to reduce our national debt by returning to responsible fiscal policies. 
Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grand children. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.
As Obama now admits, he didn’t mean a single word of it.

It’s a top ten most egregious broken political promise in American history.  Hoping to hammer home the point to a yet oblivious America by grabbing the video/audio of this auspicious moment, I turned to that national treasure, the CSPAN video library.  Indeed, they have the full 13 hours of the Senate floor session from that date available for your viewing pleasure.  But, mysteriously, there is no record of a Barack Obama appearance that day in the CSPAN transcript.

Understanding that this was probably the modern equivalent of the Nixon Tapes’ missing 18 minutes, and sensing that announcement of my Pulitzer Prize was now a mere formality, I got into Woodward and Bernstein mode and made inquiries with CSPAN.

Before I had time to even come to a decision on who should play me in the movie version of my investigative story (it was between James Franco and Chiwetel Ejifor), I got the word from the wise and political war weary CSPAN video archivist:
Mr. Ward 
I get this question at least once every time raising the debt ceiling has come up during the Obama administration.  These speeches were not actually made on the Senate floor but rather entered into the congressional record.  Thank you for your interest in C-SPAN.
OK, it’s going to be more of a video short than a feature film.  Maybe F. Murray Abraham is available for my role?
Turns out, Barack Obama’s BS artistry was never actually spoken, but only added to the record as a calculated afterthought.  Kind of fitting, I suppose.

It’s true that others do the same thing all the time.  Senators Coburn and Grassley also make appearance in the Congressional record for that day, but not in the CSPAN transcript.  Yet Obama is, as usual, special in this regard.  His entirely theoretical floor flourish includes this intro that the others do not:
Mr. President, I rise today to talk about America’s debt problem.
It’s almost like he was actually there!  Unfortunately, I get the sense that Republicans attempting to negotiate with him now are feeling the same way.