By MITCHELL KALPAKGIAN
Let Me Be Clear: Obama’s War on Millennials, and One Woman’s Case for Hope. By Katie Kieffer (Crown Publishing Group: Random House LLC, New York, 2014, 338 pp.) $24. Available through crownpublishing.com.
This is a lively, spirited book infused with strong convictions, clear thinking, a cornucopia of facts and evidence, and a passionate heart. Political commentator and public speaker Katie Kieffer speaks on behalf of her “Millennial Generation” born between the 1970s and the early 2000s that represents 30 percent of the voting population, a bloc that regrettably endorsed Barack Obama’s agenda and entrusted their future to the promises in his presidential campaigns.
Disillusioned and betrayed, Kieffer contrasts the words and actions, appearance and reality, promises and achievements, and the political rhetoric and the actual truth of a leader she blames for exploiting a generation of young voters, for “victimizing us for your political gain.” As she writes in an opening letter addressed to the president, “You promised us jobs, hope, and change. In the end, you followed through only on the ‘change.’ You duped Millennials into voting for you not once but twice and implemented unconstitutional decrees that robbed us of the opportunities we deserve.”
In this letter she lists all her disappointments and frustrations that represent her generation’s judgment of this administration. Her generation has not found jobs, relief from debt for college education, affordable medical insurance, the option of individual health-care plans, the end of war, or veterans’ benefits. Unsparing, she minces no words: “You shirked responsibility for the misery you imposed on my generation. . . . Your administration’s lies and incompetence anger me on my behalf and on behalf of my friends and our parents.”
She examines the tactics implemented to woo the Millennials, the same techniques used by the ancient sophists depicted in Plato’s Gorgias and utilized in Saul Alinsky’s Reveille for Radicals: the will to power by way of pandering to the self-interest of the audience and the use of rhetoric to appeal — not to the common good or to the ideal of justice — but “to speak to their innermost self-interest and promise jobs, peace, and affordable health care that he could never deliver.”
To paraphrase Machiavelli, the prince does not have to be good but only appear to be good. In the course of the book, Kieffer examines promise after promise made in campaign speeches that have been conveniently forgotten after the presidential elections.
The presidential contender who promised to end the war in Iraq kept the troops in that country another three years and approved the troop surge in Afghanistan: “Fewer Americans died during the eight years Bush oversaw the war in Afghanistan than during the three years following Obama’s war surge.”
The Obama that promised better schools, jobs, and health care instead presided over “the first generation of Americans to do worse economically, educationally, and culturally than their parents.”
The president who promised the blessings of “American greatness” and the handsome rewards of the American Dream to the Millennials who elected him left them “empty-handed.”
Those who voted enthusiastically for Obama to grow the economy “had the hardest time finding jobs and escaping poverty.” Of all the presidents since Franklin Roosevelt, “Obama was in last place on job creation during the ‘recovery’.”
The politician who promised to refuse corporate money, to disclose donations, and limit convention contributions never kept his word: “For a man who promised young people he would sweep Washington clean from the cobwebs of greed, he spun a plethora of his own webs.”
The one who promised he would “make good on the debt we owe past and future generations” increased the national debt by $7 trillion and spent more than twice the money of the Bush administration that he condemned.
The presidential contender concerned about the costs of health care never consulted fully with doctors. Those surveyed explained that Obamacare would not benefit young wage earners because it would raise costs by forcing them to subsidize care for everyone else, prevent them from saving for their own retirement, and lower the quality of their medical care by scaring good doctors and would-be medical students away from practicing medicine.
The Millennials are not entitled with the option to keep the health insurance policies they were promised. The $3,000 annual cost of health insurance for them is not “lower” but disproportionate to their earnings and employment situation. The high cost of health insurance for the young to subsidize the elderly translates into “redistribution of wealth, or socialism,” not a reduction in costs. The Democrat who vowed he was not a socialist uses big government to coerce citizens to pay for a health system they do not need or want.
The great advocate of the Millennials waged a campaign attacking the chief executive officer of Big Pharma (PhRMA), Billy Tauzin, for lobbying in Washington for his agenda, but Obama makes deals and accepts $20 million in collusion with the pharmaceutical industry and drug lobby. The same Billy Tauzin conferred with White House staffers to draft “the drug-friendly verbiage” that informed the Senate and final version of the bill signed by President Obama.
The medical profession as a whole has no attraction to Obamacare because of the excessive bureaucracy and paperwork it requires, because it discourages talented students from entering a medical profession where they work for the state rather manage their own business and form personal relationships with their patients.
The black president committed to end the vicious cycle of fatherless black families did not use the office of the presidency to promote and defend the traditional ideal of fidelity in marriage unified by a mother and father true to vows and devoted to their children. Instead he cultivated his associations with celebrities notorious for their infidelity and promiscuity:
“Obama had a gift for singling out the pop, hip-hop, and rap entertainers with serious parenting issues while forgetting to hold up black fathers who were worth emulating.”
He befriended, hosted, and glamorized entertainment stars like Snoop Lion, Usher, and Beyoncé who hardly served as role models to “break the cycle” of single-parent, fatherless families. “Obama was endorsing Jay-Z, his lifestyle, and his lyrics. It’s how you barter for votes.” By idolizing unrespectable examples of fatherhood and seeking popularity with stars, Obama contradicted his promise to change the statistic of 73 percent of black children with absent fathers.
Appealing to the young vote by appearances on late-night television and through use of social media, Obama cultivated the image of “nice guy” while concealing his camaraderie with Bill Ayers, a founder of the radical Weathermen notorious for killing police and bombing government buildings.
The presidential hopeful resorted to unprofessional standards to win the votes of the Millennials as his campaign “encouraged young people to become media zombies and consumers of celebrity” rather than think about the common good or examine the political issues of the day in terms of moral principles and the rule of law.
Kieffer concludes her account of these seductive, deceptive promises by comparing Obama the politician to a salesman rather than a statesman, not a seller of merchandise but of “promises” that turned out to be cheap goods not worth a thing.
These are only a few of the salient points in Kieffer’s indictment of the Obama presidency, but they paint a consistent picture of a political leader whose actions contradict his words and whose statements offer only “lip service” to the causes he presumably champions. She portrays the Millennials as a generation burdened with debt, educated but unemployed or underpaid, living with parents instead of purchasing a home, and “unable to make two major choices that previous generations could: marriage and parenthood.”
Kieffer speaks for a whole generation as she decries the fact that Millennials compare to Americans who endured the Depression: Millions in the prime years of their 20s and 30s live at home without adequate jobs and do not advance in their careers or fulfill their personal lives.
Without the economic foundation of affordable education, relief from debt, a living wage, savings, and reasonably priced health care, the plight of Millennials is suspended “on hold” as they postpone marriage and parenthood because of the morbid state of the economy that leaves them in limbo with no hopeful future to realize the deepest desires of their hearts.
The wealth of facts, statistics, evidence, research, and documentation Kieffer cites make the work more than a political tract, tendentious argument, screed, or subjective opinion piece. Instead it conveys an eloquent voice appealing to the historical record, reason, and truth and seeking accountability for elected leaders who use politics for ideological agendas rather than love of justice, love of country, or the common good.
This bold voice has a right to be heard and its message to be proclaimed.
The cogent arguments and revealing testimonies she presents and the accumulation of facts she gathers puts to shame the liberal media’s claim of objective, unbiased reporting.