America faces large problems: A soaring national debt, chronic unemployment that may become systemic, government services at the breaking point, a regulatory state that is verging on predatory, a Middle East falling increasingly into the hands of America’s enemies as America’s international peacekeeping becomes ever more unaffordable, and a world economy on the brink of catastrophe. In this moment, America needs a big thinker who can project confidence and inspire and unify the American people, but instead we have President Barack Obama. He is not only too small a thinker for the moment, he is simply too small for it, too venal, too divisive, too skeptical of economic freedom and of America’s role in the world.
Tonight’s State of the Union address was not an address on the status of our country. It was truly a State of the Election speech, focused on Obama making the pitch to keep his job rather than standing as a president of all the people. This president has never seen himself as that, a president of all the American people. He called for everyone to work together, for instance, but as a citizen of a state that did not support him in 2008, I have never seen a president more hostile to me or the state in which I live in my entire life. He has sent the regulatory state to stifle the energy industry here, mocked the desire for a more secure border with Mexico at a time when the drug war to our southwest has become as violent as any war in the world, and used his partisan health care law to push the federal government deeper into our personal lives and family choices.
Tonight’s speech followed the pattern of previous SOTU addresses, in being more about politics than about the state of our union. Barack Obama did not establish that pattern, but he did nothing to change it either. If anything, by showcasing a dishonest case for increasing taxes on the wealthy, he exacerbated it. By calling for what amounts to legislating profitability for “green” energy companies that haven’t proven they can stand on their own he proposes putting tax dollars toward partisan ends, when the nation is broke and the government has never made the case that it chooses more wisely than the market. By calling for more government intervention in the US economy, he called for more government, and less freedom. Even when he lauded MasterLock bringing jobs back to the United States, the president went out of his way to note that they were union jobs. Was that a signal that, as long as the jobs created are unionized, he will not sick his National Labor Relations Board on the job creator? He said the US auto industry was “back” while the American people continue to lose money on our forced investment in it. He proposed a new international trade bureaucracy, without detailing the costs. He claimed that the economy has created 3 million new jobs in 22 months, but left out the fact that many Americans have simply given up looking for work at all. When he did get around to mentioning the unemployed, it was in the context of proposing a government re-training program. Again, no details on how it would be paid for. He did eventually propose one way to pay for some of his ideas: Cutting the military.