Donald Lambro

The "nation of takers" jab was squarely aimed at House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan who has said the country is divided between "takers" (which he puts at one third) and "makers" -- an observation the Republicans' vice presidential nominee made in the campaign.

But that was only one of the attacks Obama leveled in a speech that declared the political campaign -- at least for him -- didn't end Nov. 6. He took aim at Republicans whom he characterized as ideologues who were not interested in compromise but only in blocking his agenda.

"We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate," Obama said.

It was an especially nasty, uncivil remark against the loyal opposition, made on the door step of the legislative branch of government. Certainly beneath the dignity of an inaugural address to the nation when presidents call upon all us to come together in behalf of the common welfare.

It was also a particularly low blow just days after House Speaker John Boehner and his leadership agreed, in the interests of the nation, to extend the debt ceiling for three months to give Senate Democrats time to adopt a budget that shows they are serious about curbing a $16.4 trillion debt.

Instead, Obama saw his inaugural event as less of a time for bipartisanship than for demanding action on his political agenda, as if he were still on the campaign stump, running through his wish list. Even his die-hard supporters in the news media expressed profound disappointment.

"What followed was less an inaugural address for the ages than a leftover campaign speech combined with an early draft of the State of the Union address," writes the Post's liberal-in-residence Dana Milbank.

If anyone still thinks Obama's divisive, class warfare assault on the wealthy ended on Election Day, he served notice that he's just getting started:

"We the people understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it," he said. Maybe that's because they cannot find a job in his ever- recovering jobless economy.

Yes, we must "make the hard choices to reduce... the size of our deficit," he weakly acknowledged. "But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing (he means more federal spending) in the generation that will build its future."

What followed was a legislative wish list that hit all of the political hot buttons in the liberal coalition: climate change (an issue that failed in Congress when his party controlled both chambers); still more spending on green energy public works projects, (after he lost billions of tax dollars on bad investments that went bankrupt); calls for still more infrastructure spending, as he clings to the failed belief that this will turn the economy around. It hasn't.

Peppered throughout his speech were preaching-to-the choir references about gay rights, voting rights, civil rights, gun controls, protecting the environment by spending a lot more on alternative sources of green energy, and helping the poor with more social welfare spending programs.

Obama also talked about "equality" and "opportunity" for poor and struggling Americans. Yet the irony and tragedy is that his tax and spend policies have produced record increases in poverty and nowhere near the number of full-time jobs needed to put America back to work.

The man who talked confidently of "hope and change" offered neither in his first term. "That messiah never came, and a sluggish economic recovery overshadowed his term... Most Americans still think that the country is headed in the wrong direction," Milbank wrote this week.

The only thing Obama has to offer this time around is more of the same empty, partisan rhetoric for four more years. Fasten your seat belts. We're in for a very bumpy ride.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.



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