The Corner

DeMint’s Reaction

Sen. Jim DeMint, the conservative Republican from South Carolina, tells National Review Online that President Obama disappointed him last night. “Frankly, I can’t believe what he says anymore,” he admits. “It was really hard to take it seriously.” Obama’s “duplicity,” DeMint argues, was the key takeaway. “It was hard to listen to the contradictions.”

On spending, “he promised so much more, which he called ‘investment,’ while calling on Congress to cut. Yet his idea of cutting spending is to put it on cruise control at the highest level we’ve ever seen,” DeMint says. “None of that made a lot of sense.” And on health care, the president “just laughed at folks who disagree.”

Still, DeMint acknowledges, the president avoided making a major political gaffe. “Unless you are quite discerning about it, this was a very persuasive speech. He knows what he’s doing.”

“If I had not seen what the president had done over the last two years, I would have thought he was a free-market capitalist who believes in individualism, hard work, and opportunity,” DeMint muses. “But everything he has done has been contrary to that — more central planning, top-down government control.” Obama’s policies, DeMint says, have been “pure socialism.”

But it wasn’t all bad: DeMint saw a few points of light. The South Carolinian says the president’s talk of earmark vetoes and tax reform was “a nice step in the right direction.”

On the Republican front, DeMint has high praise for Rep. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who delivered the official GOP rebuttal. “I think Paul Ryan did a good job last night,” he says. “In a winsome way, he tried to resell to America the idea of how limited government, freedom, and prosperity are all interconnected.”

Ryan’s approach, DeMint says, should be followed by fellow Republicans. “We are going to have to be educators, winsome, and good salesman,” he says. “We need to convince Americans that the things that made this country great can restore our greatness.”

Robert Costa — Robert Costa is National Review's Washington editor and a CNBC political analyst. He manages NR's Capitol Hill bureau and covers the White House, Congress, and national campaigns. ...

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