• He only skated over the recommendations of his deficit-reduction commission; the proposals he mentioned last night, such as a budget freeze, don’t begin to hack away at the deficit, which will require radical entitlement reform — and which should ideally (but unrealistically) be accompanied by the elimination of such parasitic agencies as the Department of Education.
• Tea partiers will object to Obama’s failure to observe that the federal government has grown to gargantuan proportions compared to the blueprint laid out in the Constitution.
Still, this SOTU was tame and moderate, in a welcome repudiation of Great Society liberalism — and, a fortiori, of “anti-colonialism” and of “socialism.” I would have been ready to jump on Obama for not mentioning family breakdown as the primary cause of poverty — if he had made eliminating poverty one of his goals. But he made no mention of poverty, beyond an anodyne injunction to “make sure that we’re not [reducing the deficit] on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens.”
Instead, with apparent sincerity, he celebrated American upward mobility and entrepreneurship. To be sure, he also presupposed the existence of a regulatory state to channel economic activity, but he is a Democrat, after all. Let’s give him that in exchange for junking the race- and class-warfare rhetoric of the past.
— Heather Mac Donald is a contributing editor to the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal.