Rather masochistically, I sit through the State of the Union Address each year. This year, sadly, was no exception.
As expected, the majority of President Barack Obama’s seventh such address was focused on domestic policy and his horrendous ideas for it.
They were predictably awful. Casting aside any regard for the fact federal spending has long since passed the “unsustainable” mark, Obama trotted out another grocery list of ludicrous spending programs, capstoned by a proposal to dole out free two-year college degrees.
And how to pay for this? Why, tax increases, of course. Not just any old tax, mind you, but one in particular that has no economic business even being in existence, the capital gains tax — presumably classified by liberals as a sin tax, because investing is, of course, just a form of oppression by the 1 percent or some such thing.
There was also the delightful threat to eliminate the tax advantages of college saving plans, because, after all, who needs to save for college when community college will be given away for free by Uncle Sam?
And on and on it went. A rolling far left cliché, almost comical in its ideological pandering, hitting all the high marks — class envy; the leveling impulse; enforced equality of outcome; oppression of various groups by the Old Order; contempt for the past; and ill-deserved faith in an engineered, carefully designed future.
Now, Obama knows full well none of what he proposed has a flicker of a chance of becoming the law of the land. He knows he faces a Republican-controlled Congress and, in fact, the speech was his response to the Great Shellacking II. Not only was his address a refusal to concede the fact that his ideology is a failure. But by laying out policies so extreme, so partisan and so easy and enticing for Republicans to refute, he all but dared the congressional GOP to stand up and shout “never.” And, voila, he can point to a recalcitrant Congress standing athwart progress and “getting in the way of getting things done.” Really not all that much of a political play, especially considering a lot of Americans count on this new Congress to do precisely that. But it’s what Obama has, and besides, it lets him use his bully pulpit to rattle off a bunch of the nonsense he truly believes without the usual required political filter.
The point is that since none of what he proposed will come to pass, it’s mostly harmless political rhetoric. Oh, he’ll try an executive order here or there or maybe even make some deal to get a small bit of it included on a defense bill. But nothing substantial — thank goodness — will come of his domestic policy bluster.
Not so on the foreign policy side of things.
A lot of foreign policy lies with the executive and outside congressional reach. This is generally necessary and something the founders anticipated. Nevertheless, it makes the few moments Obama set aside for foreign affairs in his speech something more than the foolishness he spouted on tax policy, because this is an area in which the president can deliver on his threats.
While it might be comforting to think he’s bluffing yet again, there’s a pretty good chance Obama might actually close the prison on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. For the past five years, he’s had to face the realities confronting him. In two years, he won’t have to live with the consequences, and he doesn’t much care for any of the people who might conceivably replace him.
Closing Gitmo would mesh nicely with the new hugs-and-kisses Cuba policy which Obama bragged about during the speech. Since openness worked so well to create a democratic and repression-free China, by golly we ought to try it with the Caribbean prison island. I wonder if Obama would have so enthusiastically pursued a similar policy with apartheid-era South Africa?
Later, Obama actually threatened to veto congressional attempts to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. He made no mention of Al Qaeda despite its recent international resurgence, nor of Yemen, the country touted as an example of his
anti-terror policy that’s now coming apart at the seams. Scant mention of Russia or China, yet an admonition that climate change is the greatest threat to our nation.
I have one more of these to sit through. By that time, the GOP Congress will have probably done its job and stopped most of the insanity domestically. Sadly, it might not be able to stop much of the insanity Obama projects outwards.