If I had been one of the new University of Michigan graduates sitting in the audience during President Obama’s recent commencement address, I certainly would have been disappointed. Why? Because the President focused his entire speech on the political process. While politics is certainly part of the world, it isn’t everything. This could have been a great opportunity for Obama – our first (half) black president – to discuss the struggles, challenges, and problems that life throws at you, and how to overcome them. It could have been a great opportunity for Obama to discuss what he did to end up where he is. It could have been a great opportunity for Obama to discuss his own college days and feelings when he sat where those new graduates were sitting.
Instead, President Obama talked about the government. He talked about politics. He talked about the media’s spin on politics. He essentially gave a campaign speech to a group of brand new college graduates, when he already has the job. In fact, he gave basically the same speech we’ve all been hearing for the past two years. Democracy, participate, great country, and blah, blah, blah. I’m surprised he didn’t yell “Yes you can!” before he left the podium. More and more, Obama feels like less of a real person than a cardboard cut-out. When he speaks, he’s so smooth that everything seems carefully orchestrated rather than from the heart. It feels like a person who has no idea what the average American is dealing with trying to pretend like he does know what the average American is dealing with. Rather than reading off a teleprompter what clearly appears to be something someone else wrote, how about something from the heart, Obama?
As of December, the unemployment rate in Michigan was at 14.6%. Yet President Obama did not mention that crisis during his speech – surprising, since presumably many of the audience members were seeking to find jobs, either in or out of Michigan. Matter of fact, Obama didn’t talk about the economy at all during his speech. Certainly a few words of encouragement on that front couldn’t have hurt? Overall, a disappointing speech, and far from inspirational. I’m glad I wasn’t there.