Obama’s Final SOTU?
NRO gathered experts to react to the president’s 2012 State of the Union Address.

Delivering the State of the Union, Jan. 24, 2012


While it took President Obama only five minutes into the State of the Union address before he started bashing the rich, Wall Street, and the Chinese, he actually muted his confrontational approach as compared with other recent efforts. Still, it was a typical overlong speech, overstating accomplishments and ignoring negatives. Five examples of the latter: he misstated and dramatically downplayed his failure to stimulate the economy, claiming 3 million new jobs when in fact employment is lower than when he took office.

Second, there was hardly a word about health care, given fierce public opposition to Obamacare.

Third, he spoke about student-loan debt before even mentioning the national debt, where he renewed his tired and empirically indefensible solution of taxing the rich.

Fourth, he announced the Defense Department would push clean energy and somehow we would produce lots of clean energy on federal lands, but ignored the damage created by bowing to environmental Know-Nothing policies that have nixed the Keystone pipeline project and other energy initiatives.

Lastly, he uttered not a word about the huge long-term unfunded liabilities arising from unsustainable entitlement commitments like Social Security and Medicare. In short, it was a tale full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

— Richard Vedder directs the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, is an adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and teaches at Ohio University.

President Obama’s State of the Union speech reminded me of some observations made by past celebrities in politics and entertainment. Dean Acheson said that the first requirement of a statesman is to be dull, which is not always easy to achieve. President Obama certainly achieved that tonight.

His speech was a totally predictable mishmash of class warfare, requests for new taxes and fees, proposals for even more spending, and gross exaggerations — such as his claim that he had already agreed to $2 trillion in spending cuts when there has not been a single dollar cut from the budget. And the impending sequestration will make for drastic cuts in defense that threaten one of the government’s core constitutional duties: providing for the common defense.

Lucille Ball once said that when she heard the word “politician,” she immediately thought of chicanery. We certainly saw chicanery in the president’s speech when he blamed the mortgage crisis on regulators looking the other way while banks supposedly forced mortgages on poor, unsuspecting Americans. As we all know, however, the crisis was in large part caused by government regulators forcing banks to relax their standards in order to avoid false claims of racially discriminatory lending practices.

As was said of Robert Taft, President Obama has a positive genius for being wrong. He wants to “double down” on federal “investments” in clean energy. He has obviously learned nothing from the Solyndra fiasco that wasted half a billion dollars of taxpayer funds on “renewable” energy that is inefficient, expensive, and a financially irresponsible “investment.” And while he wants to drastically cut the defense budget, he actually bragged about the Pentagon spending money on clean energy, as if fulfilling his environmental fantasies should be the first priority of our military forces.

National Review’s founder, William F. Buckley Jr., described Eugene McCarthy as meticulously liberal: Never did he err in the direction of common sense when the alternative was to vote liberal. That is a perfect description of Obama. As an English conservative said, Obama will never realize that his kind of socialism is workable only in heaven, where it isn’t needed, and in hell, where they’ve already got it.

— Hans von Spakovsky is senior legal fellow and manager of the Civil Justice Reform Initiative at the Heritage Foundation.