The State of the Union: Obama is Playing Hardball; Republicans Tiddlywinks

Michael Hammond
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Posted: Jan 25, 2015 12:01 AM
The State of the Union: Obama is Playing Hardball; Republicans Tiddlywinks

The talking-heads have spent the last twelve hours arguing that Obama's Tuesday speech before Congress will soon be forgotten.

I disagree.

Obama can be inspirational: His attack on guns, after Newtown, was a bullet aimed the heart of the Constitution; but his rhetoric was soaring and his delivery, memorable.

But Tuesday's speech was, at one time, mundane, arrogant, petty, political, and devoid of any lines that will survive this news cycle. It will be remembered, however, for its meanness and its sheer partisanship.

Obama clearly knows that he has one more election left to win: He has built his legacy on illegal executive actions that will not survive a Republican president. If he doesn't win in 2016, he becomes a nasty version of William Henry Harrison. And his speech had one objective -- and only one: To lay out an agenda to defeat Republicans in 2016.

So why is Reince Preibus appearing on MSNBC (The sentence could stop here.), advocating aggressive bipartisanship? At a time when Obama has committed his last two years to destroying the Republican Party.

Obama's politicization of tax reform has probably killed that. And, no, he's not going to sign off on the Keystone pipeline.

But there remains a danger that a myopic Republican Party will intentionally delegate him huge amounts of legislative authority by granting him fast-track authority to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (and a follow-up agreement with Europe) -- while denying Congress the ability to amend, filibuster, or block its consideration.

Understand this: With fewer than 40 words, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (sex discrimination in education) was spun, by regulation, into a massive regulatory framework which fundamentally reshaped education. What will Obama (or Clinton) do with feel-good statements in his next trade agreement about "the right to collectively bargain" or "the right to a clean environment." Unlike the Environmental Protection Act or the National Labor Relations Act, these rights won't be circumscribed in any way; and there will be a treaty-specific enforcement mechanism. What if Obama decides to insert a comprehensive gun import ban?

These will have the force of law. And, unlike Bill Clinton (with NAFTA and GATT), Barack Obama (or Hillary Clinton) will use them to spin a massive regulatory regime.

So, Republicans: Don't come to a gun fight with a butter knife. Obama is playing for keeps. And, if you're not, he's going to take your lunch money.