On Tuesday evening President Obama indulged in the ritual monarchical pretense that seems to afflict our Republic, giving his State of the Union speech before an audience of sycophants and hustlers (commonly known as the Congress, so-called representatives of the people).
In the course of his lackluster recitation of the tired Democrat talking points from the last few months (Minimum wage! Marriage equality! Equal pay! Grievance and division!) he managed to be simultaneously boring and contemptible, yet captivating in his arrogance. Watching him, it was clear the man is forever impervious to the reality which has assaulted his presidency for these five years. Indeed, I despair of that reality ever permeating the aura of self-regard and smug condescension with which the President seemed almost to glow as he soaked in the awkward applause of his Democratic colleagues in the Congress.
For those who maintain that the State of the Union is a meaningful speech in which the President lays out attainable political goals, my sympathy card is in the mail. But I suppose it would only be fair to outline some of the major “points” he made.
- Income Inequality — For too long in this country, some people have made more money than other people. It has gotten so bad that even unskilled laborers with no marketable talents (like teenagers) find it difficult to make a “decent” living. Well, the President has good news for you: he has now asked the Congress to extend jobless benefits while also raising the minimum wage to $10.10. As we know, raising the cost of unskilled labor only makes the commodity and services produced by that labor more affordable and not less. It’s how the world works.
- Executive Action — You knew he had a pen, you knew he had a phone, but did you know he intends to use them? From what I gather this means we can expect Executive Orders and the like in an attempt to circumvent the admittedly incompetent Congress. Democracy sometimes requires a little less democracy to work, you know.
- He wants to lower tax rates for companies that create jobs for Americans — Wait, I must have heard that part wrong. Lower taxes? That can’t be right. Let me check the transcript…huh. “Let’s work together to close those loopholes, end those incentives to ship jobs overseas, and lower tax rates for businesses that create jobs right here at home.” He’s trying to trick us.
- Climate Change is apparently coming to kill us all — I hadn’t heard that one before.
- He thinks this should be the year we tackle immigration reform — There are some Republicans who agree with him, but I’m not sure many people really view this as the best use of our time right now. In fact, let me take a page from the President’s playbook and just declare without attribution that fully 97% of Americans do not view immigration as a high priority.
- Speaking of unsourced allegations, did you know that women still make seventy-seven cents to a man’s dollar? — It must be true, because Democrats keep repeating it even though the President himself debunks this little gem just a moment later: “Now, women hold a majority of lower-wage jobs…” No kiddin’. Don’t suppose women holding such a preponderance of lower-wage jobs and making choices that take them out of the workforce affects the relative value of their labor in any way.
- Obamacare is working fine — Did you know that?
- Closing Gitmo — Which will be a real bummer to the young military members I’ve known who spent most of their time learning to scuba and eating lobster on the beach while watching some of the latest film releases. Also, I think there is surfing.
- Some blather about Iran and China — Probably not important. I admit I tuned out around this point because I had to grab a refill.
The one part of the speech that was actually worthwhile, that approached any genuine meaning at all, was when the President recognized an Army Ranger, Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg. Sergeant Remsburg had been severely wounded by an IED. Despite nearly dying and suffering brain damage, he has slowly regained the ability, through numerous surgeries and daily rehab work, to stand and to communicate. The Sergeant’s refusal to quit should inspire all Americans, regardless of politics.
If there was a moment to take away from Mr. Obama’s speech, it was that one.