How does one critique a speech like tonight’s? It’s like trying to find rational structure in cotton candy. Poke it too much and it’ll just get all over you and make a big mess. Obama is like an actor stepping into a role that is larger than himself — a Brendan Fraser trying to take on a John Wayne role. He looks the part, he sounds the part, but the gravitas just isn’t there.
President Barack Obama spent more than an hour sweeping between a laundry list of proposals, anecdotes to hide his failures, and what can only be called lies about the state of the union. He took credit for an energy boom that he not only had nothing to do with, but that he has actively tried to stop. He touted Middle East policies that will end with an Iranian nuclear weapon and radical Islamists in control of at least one other state in the region, if not several. Obama never mentioned Pastor Saeed Abedini, the American who is imprisoned in Iran. He pushed for minimum wage hikes that won’t create jobs and may price some jobs off into robotic replacements, and which would only impact about 4% of the American work force. Meanwhile, the labor participation rate in Obama’s economy is still at a historic low. His record on jobs is awful.
Obama stood before a joint session of Congress and told them that he was done with them. He told them that he intended to sideline them whenever he can. And the Democrats elected to that body, who are supposed to defend its constitutional responsibilities and powers, cheered. It was a ghastly sight, unworthy of our nation’s station as the world’s oldest functioning republic.
The president may have done all Republicans a favor when he offered up an applause line that got all the Democrats to spring to their feet and loudly cheer Obamacare. Most of America hates that policy. That image of Democrats cheering for that policy is sure to feature in Republican attack ads this fall, and to great effect.
His one memorable and truly unifying moment came at the end, when he lauded an Army Ranger who had been injured in the war. But that Ranger swore an oath to defend the Constitution that Obama had just proclaimed his intention to disregard for the next three years. So even that tremendous moment felt grafted onto the larger address, not part of an organic whole with it.
This was a cut and paste, paint by numbers kind of speech. SOTU’s usually are, but this one was unusually hollow. At one point, Obama might have had a Ron Burgundy moment. The fictitious TV news anchorman infamously will just read whatever is put on his teleprompter. Obama called for the closing of the terrorist holding facility at Guantanamo Bay, which he stridently called for in 2008 but has not done as president. Did he not know about that old speech? Or was he just reading whatever was on his teleprompter?
Obama seemed at times to be truly put out with whoever has been president these past five years. A majority of Americans would agree with him on that at this point.
This is a president who thinks it sound and reasonable policy to force nuns to pay for the birth control of Georgetown law students, and to take them to court to make it so. That’s really all one needs to know about him. He can’t be reasoned with, and the next three years are going to be a long, hard slog for those of us who disagree with him.