An abrasively partisan presidential speech laced with more class warfare rhetoric and featuring yet another promised "pivot" to jobs? How...expected. President Obama is preparing an "aggressive" State of the Union address for tomorrow night, in which he will reportedly attempt to box Republicans into a corner on issues ranging from environmental policy to immigration to gay rights.
President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech will be less a presidential olive branch than a congressional cattle prod. Emboldened by electoral victory and convinced the GOP is unwilling to cut deals, Obama plans to use his big prime-time address Tuesday night to issue another broad challenge at a Republican Party he regards as vulnerable and divided, Democrats close to Obama say. He’ll pay lip service to bipartisanship, but don’t expect anything like the call for peaceful collaboration that defined his first address to a joint session of Congress in 2009, they say.
As we've known for years, 'hope and change' was nothing more than a devious and effective fabrication. This president is a deeply ideological and peevish street fighter who seems to have concluded that the next stage of his presidency ought to be devoted to picking his opposition apart. He solidified this approach during his second inaugural address and will reportedly push even harder tomorrow evening. In short, this man embraces the literal utility of the presidential bully pulpit. Politico writes that he's "convinced" the GOP is unwilling to negotiate in good faith or forge compromises, but that makes little sense. They've cut deals to resolve each manufactured crisis thrown at them, including debt ceiling confrontations, continuing resolution expirations, and the so-called fiscal cliff. I think what truly frustrates Obama is Republicans' unwillingness to unilaterally surrender on every last point, and therefore they must be punished. Buckle up for a straw man massacre on Tuesday night. It's going to be petty, unfair and dishonest -- and Obama won't pay much of a political price for his excesses, for reasons rehearsed by Allahpundit:
He won’t lose popularity, or at least not because of this. One of Obama’s few real rhetorical gifts is his knack for dumping on opponents stridently while not sounding strident. He’s always cultivated a cool-headed, above-the-fray, “adult in the room” image — it was key to his post-partisan shtick circa 2008 — and he does a solid job of maintaining it for the benefit of low-information voters who don’t follow politics closely day to day. There’ll be plenty of “we are one America” in this speech to cushion the “Republicans are destroying America” verbiage, and that’ll work just fine for casual watchers. Plus, if he throws some red meat to the left, he can count on some flattering post-speech coverage no matter how dull the proceedings get.
The president will position wedge issues in such a way as to portray any opposition as inhumane and nihilistic. He'll use this carefully-crafted narrative of Republican intransigence as a pretext to arrogate more executive power. Remember, the "imperial presidency" is only a threat to the republic if the president has an (R) next to his name:
President Obama is considering a series of new executive actions aimed at working around a recalcitrant Congress, including policies that could allow struggling homeowners to refinance their mortgages, provide new protections for gays and lesbians, make buildings more energy-efficient and toughen regulations for coal-fired power plants, according to people outside the White House involved in discussions on the issues. One of the first orders is expected this week, when the Obama administration will call for the creation of new standards on what critical private-sector companies should do to protect their computer systems from hackers. The moves underscore Obama’s increasingly aggressive use of executive authority, including 23 administrative actions on gun violence last month and previous orders that delayed deportations of young illegal immigrants and will lower student loan payments. These and other potential actions suggest that Obama is likely to rely heavily on executive powers to set domestic policy in his second term.
Who needs a "recalcitrant" Congress, anyway? Obama has regularly displayed an eagerness to circumvent the people's branch in order to advance his agenda, so it makes perfect sense that he'd step up his abuses in a second term. As for the "pivot to jobs," one can only laugh. How many phony political recalibrations will it take for people to realize that the president simply isn't interested in real solutions on job creation? More than eleven, I guess. Obama just got finished raising taxes on job creators and small businesses, and has telegraphed his intent to return to the tax hike well as soon as possible. Instead of empowering and unleashing the private sector, Obama wants to sap it, opting instead to use the instruments of government to "stimulate" economic growth -- at an exorbitant and inefficient cost to taxpayers. Unemployment rose slightly last month to 7.9 percent. Let's recall that in order to promote its (borrowed) $825 billion "recovery" package, the White House published an infamous chart detailing the projected job growth their policies would produce. This chart tracks Statist wishful thinking vs. reality:
Administration experts told the public that we'd have a national unemployment rate of approximately five percent by now, thanks to President Obama's massive "investments." In fact, if the US workforce participation rate had remained steady at the level Obama inherited from Bush, the current unemployment rate would be nearly 11 percent. The U-6 statistic -- which measures the unemployed, underemployed and discouraged workers -- remains mired at 14.4 percent. But I'm sure tomorrow's fanciful Pivot 12.0 will finally do the trick.
UPDATE - In light of early reports that the president is fashioning another divisive speech, Sen. Marco Rubio has apparently scrapped an initial draft to sharpen the tone of his GOP response. Obama's fraudulent post-partisan healing continues apace:
The last, and most intriguing dynamic, comes from the Republican side. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a rising star with the political chops to rival Obama’s, will be delivering the GOP rebuttal to Obama’s speech — a performance likely to garner nearly as much buzz as the president’s address and a reminder of Obama’s ever-encroaching lame-duck status. For his part, Rubio is so intent on making a better impression than Bobby Jindal — who flopped during his turn in the rebuttal chair four years ago — he’s been gaming out Obama’s SOTU strategy like a chess match. With Obama signaling a more confrontational approach, Rubio has apparently scrapped his first draft and settled on a tougher tack, according to former Bush administration operative Nicolle Wallace, appearing on ABC’s “This Week.”
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography