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.
The president who has increased the national debt by 50% in three years wants the authority to spend even more. The president with no private sector experience wants Congress to let him use the tax code to manipulate the private sector even more. The president who seized the entire student loan industry called on Congress to keep student loan interest rates low. He called for making it illegal for students to drop out of school before they’re 18. There is no problem that he believes that his government cannot solve by passing another set of laws. He lauded innovation, but only in our “federally funded” labs, and while his regulators stifle innovation. He called for an “all of the above” strategy on energy, which was John McCain’s strategy in 2008, and which this president opposed but now supports as a cover to “invest” in more Solyndras.He spent an hour bashing Republicans, then lamented Washington’s “broken” politics and called for unity — around his proposals, naturally. He lectured about deficits, which Tim Graham tweeted was like Kim Kardashian lecturing on marriage.
He mocked old regulations while offering a pile of new ones, which he promises will be better than those old silly ones, just because. He even bragged about his illegal recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the controversial and unaccountable Consumer Financial Protection Bureau , as if to rub that act into the faces of his opponents. Obama’s ultimate faith is in his own wisdom and in the almighty state. He never mentioned “free enterprise.” Not once. But he did call for “nation building right here at home.” The only thing built to last in this speech is the national debt that it will increase.
The president spoke for more than 65 minutes and his tone throughout most of the speech was edgy, aggressive, full of the self and partisan. Andrea Tantaros tweeted that he bookended his divisive speech with false platitudes on unity. The president’s staff claimed that tonight’s speech was not political, yet he leaves after the speech to visit a handful of swing states to echo the same themes in the speech, themes he has struck for months now and will continue to strike through November. This was the president’s final State of the Union address before facing the voters in November. Hopefully it will be his last.