January 29 2014
SOTU: Sort of Like a Root Canal But Without the Painkillers
A conservative non-profit has put out a new ad mocking President Obama as an “empty suit.” In the ad—which, by the way, is very funny—an empty suit gesticulates with the president’s characteristic mannerisms and mouths platitudes in the House chamber.
Unfortunately for President Obama, the real SOTU last night was a lot like that. Stephen Hayes calls it “a small, incoherent” speech. “I’m starting to forget it already,” says Jonah Goldberg. Yours truly was stuck with what an “itsy-bitsy speech” it was.
What little one does remember in the cold light of day is mildly disconcerting. “I am eager to work with all of you,” the president told the legislators in the House chamber, apparently unaware that it is his j-o-b to work with Congress, eager or not. Look it up, Mr. Constitutional Scholar.
The biggest factor hampering the eloquence of our erstwhile Pericles was simply that, after five years of his governance, the country—indeed, the world—is a mess. There was not an elephant but an elephant herd in the House chamber. The president spoke at more length that expected on foreign affairs, and five years on the world stage seem to have taught him nada.
The scariest moment came when President Obama said that, if Presidents Kennedy and Reagan could negotiate with the Soviet Union, he could negotiate with Iran. This fatuous man seems to have no inkling that Iran isn’t a rational actor, while the Soviet Union, to a larger extent, was. It reminded us that perhaps we'd really rather have a more wordly leader dealing with the mullahs.
The president defended ObamaCare—he had to but he saved it for towards the end of the speech—tepidly and by being snide about Republicans. “I do not expect to convince my Republican friends [of the merits of ObamaCare],” he said. But after the rollout, it’s not Republicans he has to convince. He also said that if Republicans have any plan, he’ll listen and see if the numbers add up.
Is he even aware of how silly this sounded, given that Senators Tom Coburn (a doctor), Richard Burr, and Orrin Hatch have just come up with a plan for an alternative to ObamaCare? Does he think that we’ll prefer his and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ math over that of these three respected senators?
His proposals were small, stale, and eminently forgettable. Let’s see, in my notes, I have: high-speed broadband for some schools, a White House urging of CEOs to not discriminate against the long-term unemployed, and Vice President Joe Biden will oversee a study of the effectiveness of the federal jobs training programs. On ObamaCare, he was no Ron Popeil. “Moms, get your kids to sign up,” was about all he had to offer. Oh, and, kids, phone your moms! They want to talk to you about ObamaCare! Or not.
The turning point of the speech, the one moment that a lackluster oration picked up some energy, was when he introduced the women as victims in need of big government theme. Since the manufactured “war on women” is just about the only thing the Democrats have going for them, they can’t get enough of it. The president reiterated the canard about the 77-cent gender wage gap. This has been debunked time and time again—by IWF, feminist scribe Hanna Rosin, the Labor Department, and even the American Association of University Women, who put out a 2012 study that put the gap at 82 cents. If you actually read the study, you realized that it is more like something south of six percent.
But the Democrats know that they can’t force the country to adopt even more big government programs to eradicate such a puny wage gap. They refuse to admit that in many circumstances women out-earn their male counterparts. IWF is in the forefront of providing the truth about the gender wage gap, equal pay, and the Family Act. If last night was any indication, we’re going to be quite busy!
I daresay that many of the women on the Democratic side of the aisle last night already know the 77-cent figure is phony but aren’t about to give up on it. That’s because they care about preserving another gender gap: the eleven point margin by which women went for President Obama, giving him a second term. But he didn’t look last night as if he is enjoying it very much.