"Obama does not seem like a leader anymore." — Aram Bakshian, American Spectator
President Obama’s State of the Union address was arguably his best opportunity since his mid-term “shellacking” to seriously address the debt and deficit issues that threaten America’s economic stability now and far into our grandchildren’s future. His failure to deal with reality, however, was evident throughout the speech. The president called for the nation to do “big things,” yet he cited only government programs and initiatives as examples of “innovation.” The theme of the speech, implied but not stated, was, “The way to do great things is collectively, through the government.” The government may have a corner on fighting wars, but ordinary Americans are not convinced that the road to major accomplishments runs through Washington.
The Republican members of Congress, as well as many of the Democrats — and certainly his television audience — were well aware of the contrast between his rhetoric and the dire circumstances we face as a nation resulting from the President’s policies. Certainly his immediate audience, as well as the broader one, saw at least irony (if not hypocrisy) in the president’s calls for bipartisanship and civility after the closed-door dealings over health care reform and the demagoguery used to enact the President’s agenda over the American public’s expressed objection. The residual anger at how the Democrats handled their power in the 111th Congress and the obvious inconsistency between what the president did and what he was saying cast a pall over the whole evening, in spite of the bipartisan seating and the president’s well-practiced, fluid delivery style.
That celebrated “prom date” seating backfired on the Democrats; instead of showing unity, it inhibited both individuals from reacting normally to the remarks. There were few standing ovations at an occasion when the president’s supporters are typically up and down all evening. Even Mr. Obama’s use of self-deprecating humor, though it provided some levity in the laundry list of issues, produced only polite laughter from the assembled dignitaries.
Worse, the speech brought into sharp focus the weaknesses of this president. Why was it a “Sputnik moment” and not a moon-landing moment or an Apollo moment? He referenced a Soviet achievement while acknowledging that American space achievements overshadowed Sputnik. He talked about compromise, but made it clear that he will not bend on his health care reform provisions. He lauded “his” extension of the Bush tax cuts, but made it clear that his goal is to end “tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent of Americans.”