I have a reaction to the State of the Union in this morning’s Washington Post “Topic A,” but a few additional thoughts.
The speech began with an elegant and elevated opening, but quickly descended into scolding and condescension.
He scolded the justices of the Supreme Court in front of their faces and led the entire Democratic side of the aisle into cheering his taunts. The justices sat there stone-faced (save Justice Alito, whose reaction probably betrayed what the rest were thinking).
He scolded Republicans for obstruction and declared “we can’t wage a perpetual campaign” — even as he continued, in his speech, his perpetual campaign against President Bush. The fact is, by this time in their presidencies, both of his predecessors had reached across the aisle to seek opposition support for a major initiative (Clinton on NAFTA, Bush on No Child Left Behind). Obama has not one single significant bipartisan initiative to speak of. He has tried to ram through his agenda along strict party-line votes. But the Republicans are obstructionist.
He scolded Scott Brown (without mentioning his name) and all those who have criticized his handling of the Christmas Day bomber, declaring that “all of us love this country” and warning critics to “put aside the schoolyard taunts about who is tough.” If you disagree with Obama’s policies, you are questioning his patriotism. Imagine what the reaction would have been if Bush had tried that in a State of the Union with those who criticized the surge in Iraq. The howls of the liberal media would have been deafening.
His one moment of “humility” came when he acknowledged his biggest mistake of the past year: his failure to adequately explain his policies to all of us. This was a State of the Union for the slow learners. His message to all of us was: “Let me speak slowly for you.”
It was quite possibly the most partisan, condescending State of the Union address ever. Tonight, Obama was unpresidential. The permanent campaign continues. In the long run, it will backfire.
– Marc Thiessen was the lead writer on the last two State of the Union addresses. His new book, Courting Disaster: How the CIA Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack, was just published by Regnery. For more information, go to: www.courtingdisaster.com.