State Of The Union And More Political Comment

Posted on Mon 02/01/2010 by


Monday Brief from The Patriot Post

The Foundation

“Here comes the orator! With his flood of words, and his drop of reason.” –Benjamin Franklin

Opinion in Brief

“The Constitution requires that the president ‘from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union.’ But it doesn’t mandate the modern pageant of pomp, circumstance, and phony promises we suffer through every year. In fact, for most of the Republic’s first century, the SOTU was a modest, informational affair. Presidents sent the written address to Congress, to be read aloud by a clerk. That was thanks to President Jefferson, who thought delivering the speech before Congress assembled smacked too much of a king’s ‘Speech from the Throne.’ When the power-hungry Woodrow Wilson overturned the Jeffersonian tradition in 1913, one senator cursed the revival of ‘the old Federalistic custom of speeches from the throne,’ calling it a ‘cheap and tawdry imitation of English royalty.’ The speech only got worse from there, especially after the advent of television and LBJ’s decision to move the address to prime time. That sealed the SOTU’s transformation into the modern ritual, in which the president stands at the front of the House chamber making exorbitant promises that would shame a carny barker, while congresscritters stand and clap like members of the Supreme Soviet cheering a Brezhnev speech.” –columnist Gene Healy, vice president at the Cato Institute


“The central fact of the [State of the Union] speech was the contradiction at its heart.

It repeatedly asserted that Washington is the answer to everything. At the same time it painted a picture of Washington as a sick and broken place. It was a speech that argued against itself: You need us to heal you. Don’t trust us, we think of no one but ourselves. The people are good but need guidance — from Washington. The middle class is anxious, and its fears can be soothed — by Washington. Washington can ‘make sure consumers … have the information they need to make financial decisions.’ Washington must ‘make investments,’ ‘create’ jobs, increase ‘production’ and ‘efficiency.’ At the same time Washington is a place ‘where every day is Election Day,’ where all is a ‘perpetual campaign’ and the great sport is to ’embarrass your opponents’ and lob ‘schoolyard taunts.’ Why would anyone have faith in that thing to help anyone do anything?” –columnist Peggy Noonan

Political Futures

“If President Obama took any lesson from his party’s recent drubbing in Massachusetts, and its decline in the polls, it seems to be that he should keep doing what he’s been doing, only with a little more humility, and a touch more bipartisanship. That’s our reading of [Wednesday] night’s lengthy State of the Union address, which mostly repackaged the President’s first-year agenda in more modest political wrapping. … On health care, Mr. Obama offered a Willy Loman-esque soliloquy on his year-long effort, as if his bill’s underlying virtues and his own hard work haven’t been truly appreciated by the American public. He showed no particular willingness to compromise, save for a claim that he was open to other ideas. … Mr. Obama’s economic pitch also differed little from last year, when the jobless rate was 7.2%. He offered a spirited defense of the stimulus, though the jobless rate is now 10%, and he promised more of the same this year, especially on ‘green jobs.’ … [H]e couldn’t resist more banker baiting, and he promised that he’s determined to see tax rates rise for millions of Americans next year when the Bush rates are set to expire. He also pushed more exports while saying he’ll raise taxes on some of our biggest exporters, otherwise known as multinationals that ‘ship our jobs overseas.’ Mr. Obama believes he can conjure jobs and a durable expansion from the private sector while waging political war on its animal spirits. It can’t be done. This reflects a larger problem, which is his belief that economic growth springs mainly from the genius of government.” —The Wall Street Journal

For the Record

“There are more loopholes in President Obama’s proposed ‘spending freeze’ than in an Olympic volleyball net. Gargantuan government entitlements (Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid) are exempt. A half-trillion in unspent stimulus money is exempt. Foreign aid is exempt. The Democrats’ proposed $154 billion jobs bill (Stimulus II) is exempt. Pet federal education programs will be exempt (including $4 billion for the White House ‘Race to the Top’ standards initiative and an additional $1.35 billion he just requested in the 2011 budget). Green jobs spending will be exempt. (Obama proposed $10 billion in new clean energy spending earlier this month.) Electorally driven tax-credit expansions will be exempt. The health care takeover plan is not included. As even The New York Times reported, the ‘estimated $250 billion in savings over 10 years would be less than 3 percent of the roughly $9 trillion in additional deficits the government is expected to accumulate over that time.’ Which amounts to a molecule in a drop of the ocean of red ink in which American taxpayers have been drowning.” –columnist Michelle Malkin

Re: The Left

“Critics of [the Supreme Court’s recent] decision [on campaign-finance reform], like censors throughout history, worried that freedom of speech would have bad consequences. ‘It gives the special interest lobbyists new leverage to spend millions on advertising to persuade elected officials to vote their way — or to punish those who don’t,’ Obama warned. ‘Any public servant who has the courage to stand up to the special interests and stand up for the American people can find himself or herself under assault come election time.’ It was a bit rich for Obama to bemoan the influence of ‘special interests’ the same week Massachusetts voters expressed their anger over bailouts he enthusiastically supported, the week after he cut a deal that exempted union members from a tax everyone else would have to pay, around the same time he was bragging about a spending binge that has stimulated lobbying more than the economy and in the midst of his attempt to salvage health care legislation backed by big corporations. In any case, democracy is a clash of interests, which we call ‘special’ when we don’t like the policies they support, and the election-time ‘assault’ of Obama’s nightmares is nothing more than public criticism of politicians. Obama and other supporters of restrictions on political speech believe voters can’t handle clashing versions of the truth, that they need to be shielded, in the name of democracy, from messages that would otherwise mesmerize them into doing the bidding of ‘powerful interests.’ The Framers thought otherwise, and that’s why we have the First Amendment.” –columnist Jacob Sullum


“[Those on] the left complain about the bind in which they find themselves. They can spare 4o votes on any House vote, and they have a Senate majority, but they can’t get anything done. It’s as if a genius schemed against them to thwart their efforts and require impossibly large majorities to accomplish something. … But our founders didn’t set out to frustrate any specific people. They were concerned with one big question: how does one prevent a republic from degenerating into tyranny, as all historical republics had? … In Federalist 51 [James Madison] writes: ‘It is of great importance in a republic not only to guard the society against the oppression of its rulers, but to guard one part of the society against the injustice of the other part. … If a majority be united by a common interest, the rights of the minority will be insecure.’ … Our constitutional system of government works — but it works to protect liberty, not allow those who want to get their agenda passed and get it passed yesterday to run roughshod over the minority. Madison warned of such a system, writing, ‘In a society under the forms of which the stronger faction can readily unite and oppress the weaker, anarchy may as truly be said to reign as in a state of nature.’ … More often than not, divided government has been the rule. Thus left and right are both stymied by the Constitution, which was designed to frustrate change in favor of freedom. America is ungovernable because the founders never intended the lives of Americans to be governed from the federal capitol.” –columnist Adam Graham

The Gipper

“Conservatism is the antithesis of the kind of ideological fanaticism that has brought so much horror and destruction to the world. The common sense and common decency of ordinary men and women, working out their own lives in their own way — this is the heart of American conservatism today. Conservative wisdom and principles are derived from willingness to learn, not just from what is going on now, but from what has happened before.” —Ronald Reagan

Faith & Family

“Pop quiz: What billion-dollar multinational receives hundreds of millions in tax dollars even though it is enormously profitable? If your thoughts turned to defense contractors, you would be right about the purpose — killing — but wrong about the recipient. The answer, in fact, is Planned Parenthood. According to its most recent annual report, in fiscal 2008, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the nation’s largest abortion provider, had annual revenue of more than $1 billion. Of this, about 34 percent was made up of government grants. In other words, almost $350 million of American taxpayer dollars supported the work of Planned Parenthood from October 2007 to September 2008. And, according to tax records from the same time period, this 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization had a net income $85 million greater than its expenses. That looks suspiciously like a profit…. The enterprise of abortion in America is big business. It turns a profit, and for the American taxpayer, the bailout of a financial behemoth — one engaged in an activity most Americans find troubling — is obviously unnecessary. Even without pondering such moral questions as ‘When does life begin?’ and ‘What is happening in a woman’s body that abortion stops?’ the fact that this billion-dollar industry needs no tax support should be enough to stop taxpayer handouts.” —Jeanne Monahan of the Family Research Council

Reader Comments

“Thank you Patriot Post — you hit the nail on the head concerning the upholding of the Constitution! As Mark Alexander stated, ‘Nowhere in our Constitution is there any authority or provision for these key proposals from Obama’s SOTU…’ Perhaps someone should author a book entitled ‘America’s Constitutional Republic 101 For Dummies.'” –Rick

“This is an excellent article, Mark! You are spot on with your assessment of our president’s State of the Union address: a socialist response to government created problems. I couldn’t agree more. Ditto on the Republican response; I found it a tepid reaction to an elitist agenda wrought with fundamental violations of basic liberties and enumerated powers. This approach assures only that Republicans will forever be only the lesser of two evils.” –Ed

“Scott Brown for president? I’m not saying he should run. In fact, I have a hard time believing any U.S. senator should be in the mix. State governors, who you would think have a better understanding of what the Constitution says about States’ rights, would make better candidates. While this is not a certainty, I think we should look for a constitutional conservative to wisely lead this country back to Ronald Reagan’s vision — or more appropriately, the Founder’s vision!” –Rob

“Re: Chris Matthews’ comment: I don’t care what color Obama is. I just wish I could forget that he is president.” –Jim

The Last Word

“Obama is addicted to utilizing language that he has carefully tailored or perverted to obfuscate the truth. In other words, he uses double talk on a routine basis. In order to understand what Obama truly tells us when he speaks to us, it is necessary to grab our Little Orphan Annie Decoder Ring and decipher precisely what he means when he uses his pet phrases. This, then, is a list of his favorite linguistic flourishes — and just what he means when he uses them: ‘Hope and change’: Socialism at home, surrender abroad. … ‘False choice’: A very real choice Obama wants to pretend doesn’t exist. … ‘Deficit reduction’: Deficit increases. Obama suggests that he will cut the rate at which the deficit is growing — something he has never actually achieved — and acts as though this is actual deficit reduction. … ‘Let me be clear’: Let me lie to you. ‘Make no mistake’: See ‘let me be clear.’ … ‘This isn’t about me’: This is completely about me. … ‘Reaching out to the other side of the aisle’: Totally rejecting all ideas from anyone outside the Obama-approved bubble. Then suggesting that subsequent political impasses are their fault, and that they ought to bend down and grab their ankles to establish a new tone in Washington. ‘Failed policies of the past’: Don’t blame me! Blame Bush! … ‘Tax cut’: Redistribution of money from those who pay a disproportionate amount of taxes to those who pay none. … Watch for these phrases while marveling at Obama’s supposed rhetorical brilliance. They shouldn’t be taken at face value, because Obama isn’t a master of pure artistry of the English language — he’s a master at manipulation above all.” –columnist Ben Shapiro

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