The wisdom of the American people, as impressively demonstrated on Election Day, was played out in the State of the Union speech. It was most certainly a far different report to the Congress than would have been made had President Obama and his liberal wing of the Democrat party not taken such a shellacking at the polls.
Because this was a speech borne on practical politics, as opposed to his heartfelt ideology, it was not a well-delivered speech. It seemed more like a speech class assignment than the report of the chief executive of the most powerful nation on earth.
Substantively, it was a disaster.
In trying to find the elusive common ground between the newly enlightened and emboldened free-market/limited government Republicans and the strong-central-government, tax-and-spend Democrats, the President proved there wasn’t any.
In attempting to please everyone, he ended up offending both sides.
His vision of “investments” (meaning massive government spending) in infrastructure, education and new technology were nothing more than the same old public works programs of the past.
On the other hand, the president’s hawkish talk on Afghanistan, North Korea and Iran would certainly offend his progressive base. You could almost hear the gasps of the left-wingers when he called for putting the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) back on all the college campuses. And then there were those references to cutting community grant programs and Medicare.
Perhaps his only universally interesting suggestion was to restructure the government. The problem will be the cantankerous debate that will ensue as to how to do that. Most certainly it is going to have to be done with an eye on drastically reducing the cost of the federal government.
Overall, the speech lacked any grand, but achievable, vision. He did not ask the American public to soar to the sky, as did John Kennedy. Rather, he merely invited the American public to climb to the edge of the hole.
And what about that obligatory memorable phrase? “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself,” Roosevelt assured the nation. “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” implored Kennedy. “Our long national nightmare is over,” declared Ford. “The age of big government is over,” announced Clinton.
Somehow, “this is our sputnik moment” does not measure up. It might have been better offered up in a Saturday Night Live spoof than on the floor of the Congress.