TuesdayIt's the night of the big primaries in Michigan and Arizona. The news networks are going nuts over Romney squeaking by in Michigan after he outspent Santorum five to one. I guess I am crazy (I know I am) but it seems to me as if the man who spent 20 cents to every Romney dollar and got within three percentage points of Romney is the star.
However, that's not my point right now. I just finished watching C-SPAN. It was fascinating. A very smart GOP Freshman Senator from Wisconsin was grilling Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. The Senator asked a simple question: why are members of the armed forces being required to up their health insurance payments when civilian federal employees who have unions are not?
Secretary Panetta had no answer at all. He just sort of squirmed. But the Freshman Senator from Wisconsin is totally right. This is an outrage: asking the warriors and their families to pay more for health care while the statistical clerks at Commerce get away free? That's disgraceful.
But then came the comic relief: Barack Obama talking to the United Auto Workers convention in DC. Now, understand, I am a union man -- Screen Actors' Guild, American Federation of TV and Radio Artists, Writers Guild. And I like private sector unions a lot. Plus, Mr. Obama's speech was completely fine and sensible except when he was simply making up criticism of the GOP for imaginary stands they never took.
But his voice! His accent! He has completely reprogrammed his Punahou School, Columbia undergrad, Harvard Law School accent to try to make it sound like what he imagines a workingman's accent is. It borrows a pitifully little amount from Dr. King. There's a touch of storefront preacher. He -- of course -- drops his "g's" at the end of "ing." That's how educated people think working people talk.
But it's more than that. He also has a southern cracker imitation tossed in there to appeal to what he imagines are southern men who work in auto plants -- so he sounds like a strange mixture of Joe Hill, Martin Luther King, Jr., and George Corley Wallace of Alabama. It's a whole new accent never seen on earth before created by this master chameleon to disguise his ultra-privileged background.
It's his mouth that's moving, but it's not Barack Obama that's speaking. It's a robot speaking machine in Mr. Obama's brain. He has set the machine to "please the workingman" accent and also "please the African-Americans" at the same time and the result is that weird, sad King/Wallace voice. It's sad actually. For Mr. Obama, there's no there there.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes "Ben Stein's Diary" for every issue of The American Spectator.