Friday, November 16 , 2018, 2:50 pm | Fair 69º


Harris Sherline: The Devil Is in the Details

Obama's inauguration speech sounded good but much of its meaning was left unclear.

President Obama’s inaugural address received glowing accolades from many Americans and criticism from others. I wasn’t impressed. However, my criticism is not based on his rhetoric or style so much as the content of his speech. Following are just some of the things he said that concern me:

Harris Sherline
Harris Sherline
Obama: “That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood ... Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.”

Whose “collective failure”? The fault lies with our politicians, who have steadily expanded the role of government in the economy and have been unwilling to restrain spending. The public is responsible only in the sense that they have repeatedly elected politicians who do not understand economics and whose primary interest is getting re-elected.

Obama: “... the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history, to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.”

Are all Americans childish, or only those who do not agree with Obama?

Obama: “But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.”

No one seems to know what Obama thinks the country should look like. Before I start remaking America, I want to know what it means. So far, his vision doesn’t seem to include fiscal restraint. With something on the order of $2 trillion of new spending in the offing, I don’t intend to be led somewhere I know is wrong.

Obama: “The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.”

It’s hard to know where to begin with this litany of ambitious goals. Who knows what any of this means, except perhaps his health-care prescription, which he seems to think should be some form of nationalized health care. This is a formula for a health-care disaster. Socialized health care has never worked as promised in any society, generally downgrading the quality of care and causing rationing.

Obama: “As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.”

This is a repudiation of the use of torture and the presumed abuses of the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act (FISA). However, Obama does not offer any alternative to protect the nation? He has already signed an executive order to close Guantanamo — without having the slightest idea of what to do with the prisoners there and without any agreements with other nations to take them.

Obama: “... our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.”

The idea that we can be protected from our enemies by the “justness of our cause” or “the tempering qualities of humility and restraint” is simply naive. Try telling this to the Israelis. Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran believe just as strongly in the “justness” of their cause, which is the extermination of the Jews.

Obama: “With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet.”

This sounds like another nuclear treaty in the making. The question is, with whom? Are Russia, China, India or Pakistan going to give up their nuclear weapons? Or Iran, if and when it gets them? As for “the specter of a warming planet,” evidence has been mounting that the theory of global warming is being challenged by a large number of highly credible experts. If Obama takes the nation to a “cap-and-trade” program, it will increase costs and disrupt the economy with little or no result, including putting our coal industry out of business.

At the risk of being pilloried as another negative, nay-saying conservative, my take on Obama’s inaugural address is that it was long on platitudes and short on substance. The most important message he conveyed to me is his intent to turn America into another socialist state. Having the United States become more like France, Italy, Sweden, Denmark and other socialist countries is not my idea of progress or “change” that I think is good.

Harris R. Sherline is a retired CPA and former chairman and CEO of Santa Ynez Valley Hospital who has lived in Santa Barbara County for more than 30 years. He stays active writing opinion columns and his own blog,

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