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State of the Future

"He sought to sway his audience with rhetoric rather than specifics," reports the Washington Post, trying to piece together what went on in the State of the Union address Tuesday evening.

I haven't been drunk-blogging with the marvelous Vodkapundit (wish I had!), but I came away from from the evening's televised exertions feeling dizzy nonetheless. This wasn't a State of the Union address. It was a State of the Future. Whose future, I don't know. But what a future it is! We're way done with "Change is us" and "Yes we can." We've left behind the era of shovel-ready jobs, which apparently didn't do much for the infrastructure, because our country is now full of crumbling roads and bridges, and our infrastructure has been given a "D." So we are going to redouble our efforts, and this time our government will "create jobs"(or save jobs?) that please the economy, and not the politicians. Because in the future, the government always does a better job of creating jobs than it did yesterday.

I'm sure the speech bears serious analysis, and will get plenty of it. But for tonight, forgive me -- it's been a long day. If I close my eyes and ask what the president outlined this evening, I get visions of 100,000 new (and unionized) engineering and science teachers criss-crossing rural America in windmill-powered, solar-paneled high-speed trains --  questing after the three doctors who will still be in private practice once ObamaCare really takes hold. And then this vision all starts to merge with those giant wall frescoes that sometimes bedecked vast and gloomy Soviet industrial plants, or the dusty Intourist pamphlets one used to find still scattered around unheated Kazakh and Ukrainian guesthouses in the early 1990s --  depicting legions of marching engineers and muscular peasant girls hoisting sickles and sheaves of wheat. On to the radiant future!

And I am confused about what time it is. Two years ago, this was our time, now was our moment. Now, after two years under President Obama, it is no longer our moment, but our "Sputnik moment." A Sputnik moment is when you suddenly realize your enemy is way out ahead of you. So, when did we fall behind? Does this mean NASA can now forget the Middle East outreach business and carry on sending Americans into space? And why is our government making three-year plans to "double our exports by 2014"? I'm all for trade, but why the targets? Five-year plans, or three-year plans, are for planned economies. Shouldn't it be the job of a capitalist government to keep the markets free and simply get out of the way and let the market -- a.k.a. the choices of private individuals -- determine what the volume of exports will be?