Not a Long, Nor a Long-Lasting Speech
"The state of the Union," the President reported last night, "is stronger."
To prove his point, he said we have more created new jobs, sold more American cars, bought less foreign oil, and are sending fewer soldiers into battle.
That is like saying (on the day pitchers and catchers officially reported to Spring Training sites) that a batter going 4-for-4 has raised his batting average by .100 percentage points, without pointing out he was batting .053 and is now batting .153.
President Obama carefully said that: "In 2011, Congress passed a law saying that if both parties couldn't agree on a plan to reach our deficit goal, about a trillion dollars' worth of budget cuts would automatically go into effect."
The Congress didn't "pass a law." It passed a bill. The bill they passed went to the White House for President Obama's signature. Only after he signed it did it become "law."
He said we needed a "balanced approach" to deficit reduction. Balance was not much in evidence in the lame duck session of Congress this past December when taxes went up on just about every American, but spending wasn't reduced beyond asterisks in the accounts (hence the looming sequester).
He called for "closing loopholes" on the wealthiest taxpayers and "special interests" (read: corporations) but then said we needed to make "America a magnet for new jobs and manufacturing."
He said that "nothing I'm proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime." The President's mathematics skills are rivaled only by my own. Remember when we were told that ObamaCare was "budget neutral?"
He had the gall to tout the historic amount of domestic oil and gas we are producing, promising to speed up oil and gas permits, after holding oil companies up to public scorn for the entirety of his first term.
You know my feelings about climate change (which used to be called "global warming"): It's better to put less garbage into the atmosphere than more, no matter what your position on global warming/climate change.
Mr. Obama, after claiming he wanted both parties to work together, threatened to use his Executive Powers to dictate policies that will reduce greenhouse gasses saying but there is nothing in the data that shows sustainable energy creates sustainable jobs without huge federal subsidies.
A columnist for the Washington Post (reprinted in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune) wrote: "As for Vice President Joe Biden's 2009 forecast of "billions and billions and billions of dollars in good, new jobs," the electric car factory at which he made that statement sits idle. Ditto the taxpayer-backed Michigan factory of battery maker LG Chem. Two Energy Department-funded lithium-ion battery makers have gone bankrupt."
He went for (and got) a cheap standing-O for saying "Tonight, I propose working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America." That's the SOTU equivalent of a lounge singer telling the audience at the Holiday Inn that "you're the best audience I've every had the honor to sing to."
Part way through the speech, Mr. Obama led from behind by urging passage of comprehensive immigration reform which both the House and Senate have been working on with, as far as I can tell, little or no direction from his Administration.
In the foreign policy section, he exhibited an astounding example of chutzpah when he said:
"We will keep the pressure on a Syrian regime that has murdered its own people, and support opposition leaders that respect the rights of every Syrian."
Here's what the New York Times (not a mouthpiece for the Republican National Committee) scored, just yesterday, "the pressure" the President is putting on Syria:
"By the start of 2013, more than 60,000 people, mostly civilians, were thought to have died and tens of thousands of others had been arrested. More than 400,000 Syrian refugees had registered in neighboring countries, with tens of thousands not registered. In addition, about 2.5 million Syrians needed aid inside the country, with more than 1.2 million displaced domestically, according to the United Nations."
If that's not a successful foreign policy, I don't know what is.
He carefully said that 34,000 soldiers would come home from Afghanistan so that "by the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over."
Note, he did not say the war in Afghanistan would be over; only that our war would be over.
He spoke about new laws to reduce "gun violence" (which used to be called "gun control") that was sort of a given. Listing the need for more background checks and "tough new laws to prevent anyone from buying guns for resale to criminals."
"If you want to vote no," the President said, "that's your choice. But these proposals deserve a vote."
I think he's right about that. Those kinds of proposals should get a vote. Along with things like budget resolutions.
The speech was about 6,500 words so it didn't take very long to deliver.
It didn't last long, and it will not have a long-lasting effect.
Thus is it with almost every State of the Union address.
On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the text of the speech, to the Washington Post column and the New York Times piece. Also a minimalist Mullfoto from Rabat, Morocco last week.