Expecting it to be another campaign speech, I sent this to several friends ahead of Tuesday’s State of the Union address:
Recipe for Watching Obama’s State of the Union Speech Tonight:
1—Build and light a fire in the fireplaceWe spent a pleasant evening and, as it turned out, President Obama ran true to form.
2—Put some Mozart on the stereo
3—Pour a highball or a glass of wine
4—Open a good book
After six years we know that the only thing he enjoys doing and at which he is good is making campaign speeches. When he gets restless dealing with issues that require statesmanship, he goes on a campaign swing, getting friendly audiences to smile and laugh at his jibes at Republicans, whom he despises.
This time he was off the next morning for Idaho and a speech to college students; then on to Kansas for another college audience. One would think he was running for student body president on both campuses. He was relaxed, enjoying self-congratulation and taunting Republicans to “bring me their ideas” so that he presumably he can “work” with them. His idea of negotiation and compromise meant, as usual, the other side adopting his position.
All this on-campus verve was going on while terrorism threats increased, Yemen was in turmoil, Iran continued to stall and ISIS was no closer to defeat than five months ago.
In his SOTU campaign speech he said he would not be on the ballot again and got a hand for it. His riposte was, “and I won twice.” True, but over the course of his six years in office, his party has lost both houses of Congress, governorships, and state legislatures.
He moved from that to the centerpiece of his agenda, which amounted to the dawn of an old era: income and wealth redistribution. This plays to the belief of the left wing of the Democratic Party that economics is always a zero-sum game. That is, if one person does well, someone else must do poorly. His answer: more taxes on success, coupled with more government spending. This was accompanied by his new pet, free tuition to community colleges.
His purpose in hammering away on these was not that he expects them to be passed, but to embarrass the Republican Congress ahead of the 2016 election. Apparently, he is convinced his agenda will be popular with the public. Shortly after the election he demonstrated his new-found gift of mind-reading when he said he’d “heard” the approximately 60 percent of Americans who didn’t go to the polls in November. From this mind-reading he has conjured his current agenda.
The American public, however, does not agree, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. It gave respondents a list of issues and asked “whether you think it should be an absolute priority for the Obama administration and THIS year’s Congress; or is something that can be delayed until next year; or something you think the Obama administration and Congress should not pursue.”
A strong majority said the “now” priority issues are creating jobs, defeating ISIS, cutting the federal deficit, securing the southern border and dealing with Iran’s nuclear threat.
About “reducing income inequality,” a majority said it should be put off or not pursued. The same was true of “increasing the minimum wage” and passing legislation to create “a pathway to citizenship” for illegal aliens.
When it comes to climate change, nearly twice as many said it should be delayed or not pursued as those who gave it high priority.
Of the fifth issue, closing the Guantanamo Bay prison, 72 percent said to delay or not pursue it. Only 24 percent thought it should be a priority.
Elections have consequences. Like King Canute in days of yore, Barack Obama cannot command the waves to go backward and expect them to follow his command. He should stick to entertaining college students.
Peter Hannaford was closely associated with the late President Reagan for a number of years. He is a member of the board of the Committee on the Present Danger. His latest book is ◼ “Presidential Retreats.”