The mainstream US media has sustained a high level of rhetoric, since the November 2012 elections, to the effect that the progressive agenda is triumphant and that any vision of smaller government is dead. Such rhetoric allowed President Obama to enter the US Capitol yesterday, strutting like a victorious Roman general returning from war to receive a triumph from the gathered multitude.
Reality is very different from rhetoric, however, as the nature of yesterday’s ‘triumph’ quickly indicated. The President talked bigger government, for the benefit of his left-wing base. However, his proposals were scatter-shot and small scale, must of them recognizably unattainable at least during the first two years of his second term. And those typically are the only years when a second-term president realistically can lead the nation.
The explanation of this gap between rhetoric and reality lies in the wisdom of the Founding Fathers. A victorious ‘general’ under the 1787 constitution cannot declare himself dictator, as so often occurred during the Roman Republic. The separation of powers requires the president to work with the Congress on all issues where money is involved. And the wisdom of the American people, in November 2012, placed the House of Representatives – the engine of the Congress – in the hands of representatives who surely do not support bigger government.
In consequence, on matters domestic – which constituted 90 per cent of the State of the Union address – the words of the president represented much ado about nothing. Only items approved of by the GOP majority, together with items that the president can achieve by logrolling to sell out compensatory progressive nostrums, will reach the statute book between now and January 2015.
‘Spend, spend, spend and tax, tax, tax, the wealthy’ may be Barack Obama’s renewed Harry Hopkins’ rhetoric. But the reality is that Barack Obama is no 1936 FDR and Americans have learned well since the over-extended Great Depression that followed Harry Hopkins words, that they are unwise to ask what government can do for them. Every one loves a free lunch. But wary Americans now know full well that there are no free lunches out of a progressive White House.
The State of the Union address was dead on arrival, as most such addresses are. President Obama has missed yet another opportunity to tap into the entrepreneurial instincts of small business designed to allow the private sector to pull America out of its stagnation.