The prom was held. The nonsensical gesture of the two parties sitting amongst each other was carried out. Republicans sat with Democrats. Democrats sat with Republicans. Dogs and cats communed in harmony. Magical. All just for show, a touchy feely gesture. It was a gesture created to make the Democrat minority now in Congress look less drastic. Then the President delivered his State of the Union address to Congress and the American people.
With President Obama, one must watch what he does, not listen to the words he says as he gives flowery speeches. It is normal for these to be two separate realities from this White House.
Let's face it - the State of the Union address is a grown-up pep rally. It made much more sense to show unity by all wearing the black and white lapel ribbons. Each side pops up and down to show support for whatever the President says in his speech. It's theatre. It also shows party unity. And, that last part is important. As usual, social engineering by Democrats overplays the sentiment.
"We will move forward together or not at all." Interesting sentence. This is the hyper-partisan politician who rammed through major entitlement legislation without any support from the minority party - the first time in history - and now that the GOP controls the House of Representatives, he would like to seem willing to work with them. Time will tell.
The reason the President calls for working together - whether he truly believes it or not - is because for the first two years of his term, he proved who he is politically. He proved he is a liberal ideologue. He proved he has no desire to work with the other party or to be open to their ideas. Publicly he berates the Republicans as the party of no, of an opposition with no plans of their own, which does not entice a desire to work together from either side. This is where his utter lack of leadership is most obvious. He does not lead. He bullies and taunts and talks smack to those with different ideas.
Obama spoke about the legislative success he experienced in December - the lame duck session - after the November mid-term elections and realized cooperation is necessary now. That was the key. He could no longer shut the GOP out of negotiations and had to reacquaint himself with the work 'compromise' to pass his agenda. The American voter said loud and clear that the Obama agenda was not popular.
"Our free enterprise system is what drives innovation." It was strange to hear the words 'free enterprise system' uttered in a positive way. That is encouraging. Perhaps Obama will be more open to measures that encourage growth in small business. He must embrace tax relief and lowering corporate rates is a good beginning to that. President Obama gets credit where credit is due. Politics is the art of persuasion.
"Now, clean energy breakthroughs will only translate into clean energy jobs if businesses know there will be a market for what they're selling. So tonight, I challenge you to join me in setting a new goal: by 2035, 80% of America's electricity will come from clean energy sources. Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal, and natural gas. To meet this goal, we will need them all - and I urge Democrats and Republicans to work together to make it happen."
Our country still has no true energy policy in place. We continue on a rollercoaster ride of flucuating energy prices due to a dependency to foreign sources for our supply and to a blind ideology that refuses to understand that the oil drilling industry is a necessity for the foreseeable future. The green energy talk is pie in the sky for decades to come. It is admirable but not anywhere near such ridiculous talk as a goal for 2035. Where does that particular year come from? It is simply pulled from the air. Americans deserve energy from all sources of production. He wants to end the money paid to oil drilling companies as incentives and tax breaks because he thinks they are unneccesary, that oil companies make enough money.
This is Obama crony capitalism. He picks the winners and losers in commerce. It is wrong and it is corrupt. He appoints Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE, as his top business adviser as GE gets a multi-billion dollar deal for 'clean energy' development overseas. Coincidence?
Obama chooses 'clean energy' over fossil fuel. The truth is we need it all. It is wrong headed to believe that one method works without the other. Does he realize that natural gas is a bi-product of oil drilling? Does he realize oil is necessary to make solar panels and wind machines? Yes. But he is not honest enough to tell the truth about energy production. He is a part of the far left ideology on environmental matters that put common sense on a shelf when talking about energy solutions. The oil drilling industry is the most regulated and taxed industry in this country.
"Race to the Top is the most meaningful reform of our public schools in a generation. For less than one percent of what we spend on education each year, it has led over 40 states to raise their standards for teaching and learning. These standards were developed, not by Washington, but by Republican and Democratic governors throughout the country. And Race to the Top should be the approach we follow this year as we replace No Child Left Behind with a law that is more flexible and focused on what's best for our kids."
President Obama is beholding to the teachers' unions who support him in his campaigns and contribute to his coffers. He stopped the successful program in the District of Columbia which provided a path for poor inner city children to attend good, private or charter schools. He stopped the scholarship program that produced results. I recommend the movie "Waiting for Superman" to anyone interested in public school education reform. Trillions of dollars have been thrown at the country's public education system over the decades and we have yet to get it right. It is a national disgrace.
"Before I took office, I made it clear that we would enforce our trade agreements, and that I would only sign deals that keep faith with American workers, and promote American jobs. That's what we did with Korea, and that's what I intend to do as we pursue agreements with Panama and Colombia, and continue our Asia Pacific and global trade talks."
To allow Colombia, in particular, to twist in the wind for so long is a failure hung solely on the Democrats. That country has jumped through all of our hoops towards the trade agreement and yet the Democrats - particularly Pelosi- refused to move it forward. President Bush had it in place and tried for passage of the agreement in the end of his second term.
"Now, I've heard rumors that a few of you have some concerns about the new health care law. So let me be the first to say that anything can be improved. If you have ideas about how to improve this law by making care better or more affordable, I am eager to work with you. We can start right now by correcting a flaw in the legislation that has placed an unnecessary bookkeeping burden on small businesses."
Had the president allowed Republicans at the table during the writing of the monster bill that no one read before voting on it, he would have heard ideas for improvement, of making it better. Idiotic requirements such as the $600 threshold on reporting expenditures would never have been tucked into the legislation. Republicans and Democrats have common ground - all people must have access to insurance regardless of pre-existing conditions, children deserve coverage into young adulthood, no caps on availability of payments throughout treatments. There are common sense reforms to be made. Medical malpractice reform is a good step forward, of which Obama uttered support.
On spending and the deficit, there was a lack of policy initiative, just flowery rhetoric. He mentions a freeze on spending and cuts to defense spending but no real ideas on Medicare and Medicaid, which will be essential, too. As a U.S. Senator, Obama lacked the political courage or imagination to work with former President Bush when he tried to reform Medicare and also Social Security. Everything has to be on the table. Simply going to the typical Democrat default motion of cutting defense spending is not enough. All of the sacred cows have to be reformed and made more efficient.
"Let me take this one step further. We shouldn't just give our people a government that's more affordable. We should give them a government that's more competent and efficient. We cannot win the future with a government of the past."
Remember this president has created more federal government jobs than private sector jobs. He has greatly expanded the federal payroll. To talk about a more competent and efficient government now is not to be taken seriously as a reform this man is willing to make.
"Tonight, let us speak with one voice in reaffirming that our nation is united in support of our troops and their families. Let us serve them as well as they have served us - by giving them the equipment they need; by providing them with the care and benefits they have earned; and by enlisting our veterans in the great task of building our own nation."
He left this to the end of the speech. He has not had much success overseas on foreign policy and he is still caught up in thinking it is a matter of just trying to get along with everyone else. Obama still speaks and acts as though America is the bad guy on the international scene. The rest of the world has noticed. The respect from foreign leaders he thought he would command simply by being 'not George Bush' has eluded him.
This speech was long on human interest stories and feel good rhetoric, short on policy and methods of attainment. Remember, with Barack Obama it is necessary to watch what he does, not just listen to what he says.