What to expect from President Obama's State of the Union Address

President Obama is expected to focus on the middle class in his 2013 State of the Union Address. Photo: (AP) 2013 Inauguration

DOTHAN, AL, February 12, 2013 — The State of the Union Address is the closest thing America has to an annual job review for the president. It gives insight into what he is up to and gives him a chance to explain his performance. That is the way it was designed, but in practice it usually becomes an hour-long stump speech to gloss over mediocrity and paint a rosy picture of the year to come.

Selling and delivering goods are two different activities, just like running for office versus managing the office are different. Obama is very good at running for office. So good, in fact, that he continues to do it right into his second term. He has shown himself considerably less adept at actually managing and seems to eschew details like meeting with his cabinet, negotiating with Congress or staying awake when US ambassadors are being butchered.

After four years of seeing how this president operates, we could probably skip the whole State of the Union thing and just go about our daily chores. The mainstream media is busy praising the emperor’s new clothes, but there isn’t likely to be much of anything we haven’t already heard. However, the White House did carefully leak that President Obama is going to focus on the middle class, all 33 of them that are left.

It is unlikely President Obama will discuss his core political policy, the centerpiece of his administration and his legacy – destroying the Republican Party. Eliminating the opposition is a timeless political strategy used throughout history, but it does raise the question of whether America is ready to establish a monarchy. Just in case the Republicans won’t go away and continue to scurry around the Capital like bugs avoiding pesticide spray, the Administration might consider having some kind of plan for something specific other than “fair play.” Just a thought.

President Obama gives the definite impression that he is not well versed in economics and does not much like dealing with economic issues, but expect to hear more about how small business needs to grow faster and hire more people. Details about increased taxes and costly regulations are likely to be sparse. Also expect to hear the word “investment” used frequently. That is Democrat-speak for “spending.”

It would be nice to hear why the US Navy cannot afford to service one of its important nuclear aircraft carriers, the USS Lincoln, despite a mandate to maintain full mission status around the world. The Navy is down to nine carriers and simply cannot do what the commander-in-chief demands without funding changes. At the same time there seems to be adequate funding to now give benefits to same-sex partners of military personnel. Apparently the definition of “military preparedness” has changed considerably in the past few years.

To gauge what is next on the President’s liberal wish list, it is worthwhile to do a quick inventory of what we’ve gotten from him so far. We needed jobs, we got free birth control. We needed national unity, we got finger pointing. We needed affordable healthcare, we got a patchwork quilt of new rules and taxes.

We needed a new military strategy, we got secret assassination by drones. We needed an energy policy, we got higher fuel prices. We needed realistic immigration, we got a plan to fast-track new voters. We needed business growth, we got more environmental regulations. We needed national leadership, we got community activism.

If President Obama truly wants to help what’s left of the middle class, he needs to visit the countryside one more time and stop giving speeches long enough to see how people really live. The day after his State of the Union speech the President will visit a small mountain town in North Carolina. Asheville is a typical little middle class community, home to the famous Biltmore Estate and a world-class resort where the President has vacationed and played golf.

Instead of his usual stump speech, the President’s time might be better spent looking around at how people really live. He might discover that 53% of the town’s school population is on the federal lunch program because their parents can’t keep up with rising prices for fuel and food, higher taxes and lack of jobs. He might note that on top of federal taxes, people pay state, local and sales taxes too. That, Mr. President, is what the real “new normal” is all about.

The only actual review procedure America has for a president is the election process and Obama got a passing grade from an adoring coalition of mainstream wannabes. He will continue to get good reviews because people like his message of “ask not what you can do for your country, ask what your country can do for you.”

It’s a shame they don’t seem to teach much about John F. Kennedy in school anymore.

(Be sure to get The Backstory and more at Rick’s author blog www.ricktownley.com)

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Rick Townley

Rick Townley was a bookseller before switching to electronic publishing with The New York Times, Reuters, Grolier and others. He is the author of a humor book, For Boomers Only – Exploring Life in the New Millennium, a supernatural novel, Stepping Out of Time, and numerous short stories. In addition to contributing to the Washington Times Communities, Rick is working on a fiction series called Stigma and resides in southern Alabama with his 7-year-old granddaughter, Chloe.


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