From Defining Ideas:
What is most notable about the speech was not the predictable and partisan reaction to it. Rather, it was the president’s deft use of rhetorical tropes to pull off his increasingly transparent maneuver of talking right while moving left.
As is par for the course, the speech contains enough platitudes to make it appear that the president is a fair-minded man—a man who understands the difficult trade-offs that must be made in order to balance the imperatives of market growth with the just provision of government resources to all individuals. In the end, however, this presidential straddle will fall to ruins because of its implicit assumption that transfer payments will do no harm to total production, even as they redress the inequality of fortunes in this country. Not so. But rather than jump ahead in the story, it is best to track Obama’s argument as if it were an exercise not of partisan politics, but of political theory.
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