Social conservatives were happy to hear him reiterate his support for stem cell treatments that respect moral boundaries (“extending the frontiers of medicine without the destruction of human life”), stress the necessity for judicial nominees that abide by the Constitution, recommend continued underwriting of faith-based initiatives, push an end to wasteful spending, and promise to strengthen America’s competitiveness. The President can be forgiven for a bit of gloating over his decision about stem cells now that science has found a way for adult stem cells to mimic the adaptability of embryonic stem cells. As Christian conservatives often say, “We don’t have to fear scientific research; whether now or later, science will always affirm the Biblical choice.”
Fiscal conservatives (including most social conservatives) were happy to hear the President emphasize the necessity to cut wasteful spending, his commitment to veto appropriations bills that fail to cut earmarks in half, and his determination to nullify via executive order any earmarks not voted on by Congress. His immigration reform proposals included strengthening the nation’s borders, but he also included assimilation plans. The solution, he declared, must uphold “both our laws and our highest ideals.” He expressed a desire to see both Israel and Palestine established as free nations living in peace with each other and the rest of the world before he leaves office a year from now.
One of his most conservative proposals was for a form of school choice that he called, “Pell Grants for Kids.” This initiative would enable poor children to choose better schools rather than the “failing public schools” in their neighborhoods. He documented the success of his education initiatives (fourth- and eighth-graders have the highest math scores on record, and reading scores are up).
Ironically, the President’s very successful initiatives against malaria (which cut deaths in half in 15 African nations) were received with a yawn, while his AIDS outreach (committing another $30 billion) received a standing ovation. Equally ironic, he mentioned Zimbabwe and Darfur (previously not obviously on the Presidential radar), but did not mention North Korea. He made the case for the campaign against terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan (“having come so far and achieved so much, we must not” lose ground now). He charged Congress with supporting our troops — staying the course — and taking care of our veterans.
The President echoed a phrase from a speech early in his presidency, that in carrying out the people’s business both he and Congress have a “charge to keep.” He asked both political parties to simultaneously “compete for votes and cooperate for results.” Sadly, Congressional liberals are already threatening his economic stimulus package. While there is still time to seal his legacy and his final State of the Union was an effective baby step in that direction, the President faces an uphill battle in adding to his Administration’s numerous accomplishments and in achieving the ambitious agenda that he set forth in the State of the Union address. Conservatives who helped put him in office will work with him on achieving our mutual pro-life, pro-marriage and pro-family goals. Conservatives will also work alongside him in his efforts to curb spending, appoint strict constructionist judges and protect American citizens. A lot can happen in a year; conservatives are happy to see him committed to our issues until the last hour of his last day in office.