By Sal Bommarito
President Obama addressed Congress last night in his final State of the Union address. I’m relieved that I will no longer have to sit through another attempt by the president to convince America that he is a superstar.
The expectations for the first African American leader of the free world were very lofty when he exploded onto the political scene prior to the 2008 election. We all had such high expectations. Unfortunately, he has been unable to deliver the goods.
The reasons for Obama’s less than mediocre performance are attributable to the obstructionist Congress according to Democrats, and to the president’s unwillingness to build bridges to his opponents if you ask Republicans.
Regardless of where you think blame lies, the world is a much more dangerous place because of the president’s insular worldview and refusal to acknowledge the perspectives of those who disagree with him.
The problems for this president began almost immediately. With a huge mandate and the control of both houses of Congress, he began a campaign to build his legacy without concurrence from Republicans. Most of his opponents expected him to collaborate with them in the spirit of bipartisanship; but it never happened.
Obama had little experience when he moved into the White House; he was an amateur who did not know the inner workings of Washington. One would have to believe that more seasoned politicians informed Obama that cooperating with others would pay huge dividend in the future. But, Obama assumed total control. The result was twofold. Democrats ramrodded Obamacare down the throats of Americans, his first legacy undertaking. And, just a few months later the death of Ted Kennedy and the election of a Republican to replace him caused Democrats to lose their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.
The ensuing months and years have been chock full of political divisiveness and fights over budgets culminating in Republican majorities in both Houses. Republicans were unable to enact new laws because they could not overcome the Senate filibuster or the president’s veto. And, every proposal by Obama was dead on arrival in Congress.
To make matters worse, the president continues to challenge his opposition by circumventing Congress’ duty to propose and make laws. Using presidential regulations, Obama has changed existing laws unilaterally. This bold and brazen snub of our Constitution could have a lasting impact on the country and the relationship between the two political parties.
From his first day in office, President Obama began to work diligently on his legacy. He wanted to be the second coming of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Domestically, he fell short because his objectives for the country were not consistent with the majority of Americans. And, he squandered the opportunity to convince Congress that his ideas had merit.
Last night, the president tried to convince us that has legacy is great. But alas, nobody believed it including members of his own party. For every victory he lauded, we all knew something was misleading about what he said.
Obama said that the U.S. has the greatest military force in the world, by far. Yet, discord overseas has never been greater because America shirked its responsibility to lead others against mutual enemies. The U.S. has acted ineffectively after so many new crises including ISIS in Syria and Iraq, Ukraine, Iran, North Korea and the Russian invasion of Crimea. Obama’s inaction has disappointed our allies, and they no longer believe America will fulfill obligations to them.
Obama said Obamacare provided medical coverage to 18 million uninsured Americans. But, we know that over 12 million represent Medicaid. These people could have been given insurance without spending billions on a new medical infrastructure. Also, the timing of Obamacare just as the country was entering a huge recession made the implementation of the entitlement that much more challenging.
Obama said that unemployment is at a low point of 5%. But, we know that if you add back those who have given up looking for a job, the rate is closer to 10%. And, many of the millions of new jobs Obama touts are low paying positions or part time.
Obama continues to attack the most successful in the country even though they pay for most of America’s needs. The president has stoked class warfare, and the bad feelings associated with it. Taking money from the wealthy and giving it to the poor is unworkable. A much more productive strategy would be to put everyone to work and have them earn their keep.
One the most dangerous tactics of the administration has been its diversion away from national security. The country has any number of important long-term problems such as climate change, education, voters’ rights, etc. However, peace-loving people around the world are on edge about the threat of terrorism. Many of us feel insecure, and the president’s stubborn approach towards radical Islamic elements is disquieting. National security should be the president’s most important concern.
We all know that ISIS and Al Qaeda do not pose existential threats to America, but they do to many countries in the Middle East including our most important ally, Israel. And, terrorists have proven that they can attack us on our homeland; consider 9/11 and more recent events. The president’s burning desire to make a nuclear deal with Iran does have existential implications for the U.S. A nuclear Iran, at some point, will be a real threat to America. World War III is not imminent, but it might be if an unhappy ayatollah or a crazed isolated leader in Asia decides to launch nuclear missiles at one of our allies.
The country has spent more money during the Obama administration than any other time in history. Yet, welfare is at a high point, our military is less ready, our infrastructure is crumbling, health care still threatens to bankrupt the country and so on.
The State of the Union speech was a melancholy event. The sadness and disappointment of Americans relating to President Obama is obvious. He was taking victory laps even though most Americans know he did not perform up to historical standards by any measurement.