Obama talked on and on about “investment” (i.e., spending), as though further stimulus spending were the tried and proven means by which to revive the economy, while also talking about being committed to reducing the federal deficit and the national debt (apparently missing the obvious contradiction between the two). He promised a freeze on discretionary spending, while noting that such costs comprise a mere 12 percent of the budget. He challenged the government to “encourage innovation” without admitting that nearly all innovation comes from individual initiative, not government programs. He cited his “Race to the Top” — yet another education initiative in a long line of such government attempts to improve the dismal performance of our public schools — as the “most meaningful reform of our public schools in a generation.” It was obvious that this president — driven by his radical ideology — intends to merely repackage his agenda to expand big government. We saw no evidence that he understands the dire threats — the debt and deficits — facing the American economy. Beneath his calm demeanor and plastic delivery last night, there is hollowness — a dignified, but empty suit.
Even the president’s assertion of the need for the nation’s parents to get more involved with their children education — citing American students falling behind in math and science — served merely as a justification for increased spending and greater expansion of government. His repeated calls for Congress to “send him” reform measures fell flat, as was starkly evident in the Speaker of the House’s studied efforts to keep his face expressionless; everybody knows that with the GOP having control of only one body of Congress, any reform efforts will have to start with the President. Obviously, the President will be spending the next two years trying to increase his poll numbers and reframe as victories the debacles of the past two years.
In summary, the President’s State of the Union speech fell short of accomplishing his goals. The American public saw through his rhetoric — Frank Luntz’s focus group in Atlanta called his appeals to bipartisanship “phony.” Clearly, there was a disconnect between the current initiative to use soothing rhetoric and the last two years’ harsh reality of smash-mouth, Chicago-style politics. Everyday Americans remember the president calling his opponents “enemies;” conservatives remember being told to “sit in the back.” People know the difference between politics and principles; they recognize political ploys. This speech was designed, at root, to appeal to his base and to shore up his political constituency who stand in stark contrast to the energized members of Tea Party. The 2011 State of the Union address was insipid and uninspired; worst of all, the president showed no gut-level sense of urgency about an economic environment that threatens the American way of life or any understanding that his radical policies and political appointees undermine the foundations of this great nation.
He simply doesn’t get it; Obama simply does not understand that the secret to America’s past greatness has not been, nor do her hopes for the future rest on, doing big things through government.