On the State of the Union

By January 13, 2016 January 10th, 2019 No Comments

President Obama’s State of the Union address last night has seen mixed reviews on style and substance, but chances are, if you are inclined to favor Obama and his policies, you probably liked the speech. If not, there’s a good chance you hated it.

How significant is the SOTU?  This year in particular, the answer is probably: not very.

With Obama now beginning the last of an eight-year reign, many liberals wanted another Obama “wish list[] for a future when Democrats controlled the federal government.” But even the Obama Administration has conceded that the speech was mostly “thematic,” seemingly a nod to the conventional wisdom that lame-duck presidents tangling with a Congress facing the specter of campaigns and elections don’t accomplish much in the way of meaningful legislation.  And Obama has a comical track record, in his prior SOTUs (and elsewhere) of making big numbers of equally big promises that everyone knows he has no plan to keep (colonizing outer space, making Social Security sustainable, etc.)

Liberals may be disappointed with the speech, but they can take heart in the fact that conservatives are wary of another habit of President Obama’s: saying one thing and doing another.

In any event, last night’s speech was mostly political theater, rather than a reliable indicator of what to expect from Washington in 2016.