Earlier in the week I laid out my belief that the State of the Union is a boring waste of time that should be largely ignored and not over-hyped by the media like it always is. The address last night was another reminder of why I am right.
I won’t belabor the point, just some quick observations.
First, this was President Obama 2.0. It only took two years of destruction and a massive election defeat but he finally discovered his love for America. Yes he filled the speech with laundry lists of everything wrong with our country, he is still a liberal after all. He did balance it out by acknowledging we are the best in the world and came close to saying exceptional. He might still be a citizen of the world but it was nice to hear him say something nice about the rest of us Americans.
Second, like most State of the Unions, this one came laced with promises that won’t be kept. He actually recycled some, like removing oil company subsidies, he had already made and not kept.
As most people have picked up on, his calls for spending cuts were undermined by calls for new spending and vice versa. So while it was nice to hear him talk about fiscal discipline, it never quite held up when you considered all the new spending he was also proposing
Third, as I said the other day, the opposition Party responses are always hyped in the days leading up to the address by the press as indicators of the next election. The reality is these responses go nowhere and are always panned the moment they are given. They are awkward and always lack the sense of awe that surrounds a president on a big stage. Paul Ryan did great in words but few were listening and the message was undermined by the lack of theatrics. I did not see Bachmann’s but have heard about her not looking at the camera. I honestly could care less.
In the end the president’s back is up against a wall. He wants to reach to his liberal base but he can’t. He wants to appeal to the majority in the middle but that offends his liberal base. Republicans are going to demand more and more but we will give less and less. What is a president to do?
I give him credit for fence straddling. He tried to be everything to everyone and did a good job of it. The problem is the old adage, if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything. He tried standing for liberalism and fell. He cannot bring himself to truly stand for capitalism. So now we have a hodgepodge mess on our hands that will only lead us to the same place we’ve been before.
The truth is that little seems likely to be accomplished this year. There is no will to reform entitlements, abolish large parts of the government, burn down our tax system or lift large chunks of regulation. So we will maintain a standstill and the status quo. It is the best that most of us can hope for in the short term. It won’t help solve any problems but we stop the wound from bleeding without slashing open more of them thanks to massive new spending.
Republicans have one house of Congress. Even if Obama had the will he doesn’t have the clout to move the other house. That is the political reality. It would take something bold, something radical in thinking, to change that fact. That wasn’t offered last night and I don’t think it will be in the next two years.
Video of Obama’s State of the Union Address below: