What planet did he just come from?
That was the first question that occurred to me after listening to the president’s State of the Union speech two nights ago. Because what he said — and maybe even more important, what he refused to say — certainly bore no resemblance to where this country is today or took into account the events of the past few months.
If a viewer had somehow slept through the elections two months ago and awoke just time for Obama’s hourlong peroration on Tuesday night, he would have assumed that the Democrats were the big winners in the midterm contests. There certainly wasn’t anything in the president’s remarks to indicate that he was speaking to the fewest number of Democrats to occupy Congress in a long time.
Talk about the same old same old progressive agenda; it was all there. Raise taxes on the rich. Bamboozle the public with all sorts of “free” stuff: free child care for working parents, free college when they grow up and free sick leave when they get a job.
The president said it was time to “turn the page” and work together for a better future. But every time he mentioned a way to do this, it was only to push for another government program, virtually none of which have a chance of passage in the current Congress — and Obama knows it.
Of all the exaggerations and omissions in the president’s speech, the biggest on the domestic front was how well the economy has been doing under his watch. The only way he can claim that unemployment has come down is to not count the millions of people who no longer even bother to look for work. Oh, and to give full credit to the millions more who would love to work full time, but can find only part-time jobs.
Things make look pretty good in our nation’s capital. But out in the real world, most people are barely getting by — if that.
When it comes to combating Islamic terrorism (a phrase the president still refuses to use), Obama said “the shadow of the crisis has passed.” Oh, really? That certainly doesn’t seem to be the case in Yemen. Or in Paris. Or where ISIS can murder 13 boys, just because they were caught watching soccer on television.
Of all the empty promises and rhetorical flourishes in the president’s remarks, it was a challenge to pick out the one that was the most wrongheaded. For me, it came near the end of his remarks, when Obama said it was time for us all to “debate without demonizing each other.”
Coming from the most divisive president to occupy the White House in years, lecturing anyone about “demonizing” issues took a ton of chutzpah. But that’s something Obama has never lacked. He is a master of promoting divisions among us, whether it is rich versus poor, black versus white or any other contrived conflict.
I haven’t seen any numbers on how many people actually watched the president’s State of the Union remarks. But I suspect it garnered the smallest audience he’s had in the six times he’s given this address to a joint session of Congress. That’s certainly been the trend, with every speech since the first one drawing a smaller and smaller audience.
No doubt many who tuned in at the beginning switched channels, or just turned off their TV, before it was over. Far fewer hung around long enough to hear the Republican response, which was delivered by Joni Ernst, the newly elected senator from Iowa.
That’s too bad. Because those who missed Ernst’s rebuttal didn’t see a rising star in Republican ranks. And unlike the president, Ernst stressed the significance of the November elections. “We heard the message you sent in November, loud and clear,” she said. “And now we’re getting to work to change the direction Washington has been taking our country.”
Those of us who believe that “middle-class economics” means working for what you get, paying your way and staying within your means hope she is correct. And we hope that the Republicans who now control both branches of Congress will put an end to the liberal refrain of more spending, higher taxes, greater debt and increasing dependence on government.
Yes, it is high time for a change. Let’s see if we get one — despite what our president says.
Until next time, keep some powder dry.