Derek Hunter

A lot of political pundits make a lot of money talking to an every-shrinking audience. Most Americans these days simply can’t stand politics, and after watching Tuesday’s State of the Union speech and the Republican response, it’s easy to understand why.

President Obama’s speech was empty calories, a greatest hits record from a local band that never had a hit. I had to check my DVR to make sure I hadn’t accidentally replayed a previous year’s speech. I hadn’t, but I still want to know where to go to get those two hours of my life back.

The buzz leading up to the speech was about how the president was prepared to circumvent Congress and the constitutional limits on executive branch power and rule by decree. On this, he did not disappoint.

He told the world he had “a pen and a phone” and would use them to impose his will on the country and rile up his army of paid progressive protesters.

“America does not stand still - and neither will I,” he said on Tuesday. “So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that's what I'm going to do.”

While I’d love to have the unilateral power to swipe a magic Bic pen and impose a pro-liberty agenda for a president I support, I wouldn’t because I oppose fascism. Progressives, of course, have no such constraint.

But playing by their rules and interpretation of the Constitution, if President Obama can act unilaterally AND he has all these wonderful executive orders he could sign to stimulate the economy and create jobs, why hasn’t he? He’s been president for five years, and people are suffering . What kind of monster would have a solution and the ability to act, but wouldn’t?

Of course, the president can’t act unilaterally, and he doesn’t have any ideas that haven’t been tried and failed. But he has to pretend he has these magical, infomercial-worthy miracle arrows in his quiver to maintain his anemic support. If low-information voters believe President Obama has the cure for what ails them, and he’s only being stopped from doing it by Republicans, he bolsters Democrats’ chances in November.

But it’s hard to bluff when you’ve been awarded the “Lie of the Year,” especially when there are nearly 6 million walking, talking victims of that lie. President Obama’s credibility has been destroyed by his own words and a “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” reality that most Americans know someone, or know someone who knows someone, who’s been directly harmed by his lie. Trust doesn’t have a reset button.

This reality won’t stop the president from acting unilaterally. It’s just that his actions won’t have a positive impact on peoples’ lives or the economy. It will be regulations on CO2 emissions as a payoff to environmental extremists, for example. They won’t create jobs, and they’ll drive up energy costs, which hurts the poor most. But they placate his radical base, which he needs come November. Constitution be damned, he’s got an election to win, and pandering is all he has left.

One specific item he said he’d act on unilaterally is called “MyRA,” a “savings” plan for all Americans. He said, “I will direct the Treasury to create a new way for working Americans to start their own retirement savings: MyRA. It's a new savings bond that encourages folks to build a nest egg. MyRA guarantees a decent return with no risk of losing what you put in.”

For decades progressives have been looking to get their hands on the trillions in IRAs and 401(k)s beyond their grasp. These “savings bonds” are their “in” to that pool of money. A savings bond is a loan to government, so what he is proposing is even more debt. But more importantly, this “feel good, sound good” idea likely will add additional trillions to the nation’s unfunded liabilities. Where will the money for that “decent return” come from? Magic?

The speech was a colossal waste of time. The only memorable moment was when he rightly praised Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg, an Army Ranger injured in Afghanistan. The rest was, to put it politely, worthless. He offered nothing new, reiterated the progressive dream of a cradle-to-grave hand of government in people’s lives – from pre-K to retirement. He essentially resurrected the aimless Julia of his campaign propaganda.

The only thing more forgettable was the official GOP response from Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state.

I’m sure Rodgers is a nice person, but the only takeaway I got from her speech was that she has kids and she loves them. Honestly, that’s all I could remember within two minutes of it ending. It was all empathy and no solutions, no alternate vision offered. She saw the problems facing America, and she rightly pointed out that the president has no plan or desire to do anything positive about them, and that was it.

Judging by the official response, the GOP establishment wants Republicans to run on the fact they aren’t Democrats. Even that difference was not evident in the words of Rodgers.

Moreover, “They’re wrong, and we’re not them” is not a winning campaign slogan. Were the Tea Party not new blood being pump into that dying body like Keith Richards in Canada, the GOP would be as worthless as the Democrats.

I have hope for November, I have hope for the country, but none of it was justified on broadcast television Tuesday night. The main stage show was a Democrat throwing fish to the progressive barking seals in Congress, who applauded on cue, and a stale GOP reply that almost made the president’s speech seems substantive.

In spite of the best efforts of those in leadership of both parties charged with keeping it so, the state of our union is still strong…at least for now.

Derek Hunter

Derek Hunter is Washington, DC based writer, radio host and political strategist. You can also stalk his thoughts 140 characters at a time on Twitter.