We have a rule in our house about watching President Barack Obama. We don’t. Seeing him on the big screen is more than we can take, so we tend to find other ways to get at the news of which he is a part. Last Tuesday evening was no exception. Rather than having to endure an hour long spectacle of what was once a great and rich tradition, my wife and I watched a rerun of CSI or something. I found my way to the computer and printed off the text of the President’s speech so that I could comment on it the following day on the radio.
The first two readings of the speech took only 20 minutes. When I heard that he had taken over an hour to deliver the text, I was stunned. What in the world could have been in this speech to encourage so many interruptions? Those interruptions certainly could not be blamed on substance. The third reading after a good night’s sleep did not help.
State-of-the-Union speeches and Inaugural addresses offer great insights into the political philosophy of presidents. Lincoln’s second inaugural address may be one of the greatest speeches ever given. His views of bringing the Union back together were captured so eloquently there. Franklin Roosevelt, in his four inaugural addresses, revealed the breadth of reach of the evolving Progressive movement in the country. His pronouncements gave invaluable insight into how he wanted to transform the nation. His hand was heavy on the nation, and his legacy is generally still intact in the evolution of the welfare state.
Whether speaking in the cool January air to the inaugural crowds or addressing the assembled Congress in the Capitol building, most of our chief executives have been given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their believability. In just two years, the current president has cashed in all of his political capital and has proven that he is either incapable of, or uninterested in, telling the American people the truth about anything. In short, the President is not credible.
Aside from the fact that most of the speech seemed too familiar and trite (plagiarism in academic circles is a capital offense), there was no vision to match the rhetoric. There were no acknowledgements of current challenges and certainly no substantive, specific proposals to reduce unemployment, preserve the jobs that are still in the country, reduce the perpetual deficits we see on the horizon or to address the ever-mounting debt. He had proposals, but none of them were credible.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the speech was the lack of vision regarding our role in the world as the singular super power. Of course, for the president to advance an agenda for foreign affairs based on strength, one must believe in American exceptionality and that our best chance at survival is being strong—and being perceived as strong by the rest of the world. Again, whatever the president offered on foreign relations was not credible.
The solution set for the nation is as varied and complex as are the problems with which we must deal. Getting people back to work means removing the uncertainty that exists among consumers and businesses. Reducing corporate income taxes to zero over the next five years seems a good place to start. Restructuring the tax code to eliminate all loopholes by instituting a flat tax seems something we could all get behind. Introducing and then advocating a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution seems something that would be fairly easy to see through, particularly given the attitude of the country. Ditching Obamacare by January 20, 2013, ought to be a noble goal. Returning spending to 2006 levels over time ought to be something to examine. Tackling entitlements at least has to be part of the conversation.
Advocating programs and subsidies for industries for which there is no demand seems a foolish waste of the public resources. Keeping urban children from enjoying the opportunities of access to good education is downright criminal—and this administration is doing just that. An administration that is picking winners and losers like this one is through its Department of Health and Human Services ought to be brought before every oversight committee and forced to explain what economic and Constitutional theories are being applied. An administration that cannot or will not answer to the people about its extra-Constitutional governance structure should be held to account—and that day is coming.
As the proverbial straw dropping on the overburdened camel’s back, the State of the Union address given last week removed the last vestige of credibility from this president and his administration. We are not likely to believe anything he ever says from now on.
Photo by Dave Davidson
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