President evades problems

By: Eli Johnson

On Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011, President Barack Obama gave his State of the Union address.  It was, like most State of the Union addresses, very feel-good, and very pleasant to listen to.  In fact, if you listened closely, you would actually come to believe that America is still on top of the world.

It never ceases to amaze me how much those in power have to continue reassuring people that America is still the top dog on the entire planet.  If you say otherwise, people would boo and hiss you off-stage, even though you might just be telling them the truth.  Like about how China is ahead of us in solar power.  Not top dog there.

So, the speech began with Obama talking about Gabrielle Giffords being unable to be there.  He didn’t bring up the idea of gun control even though this would have been the perfect time.  In fact, he didn’t really bring up much of any of the progressive ideas.  One would think that when a politician is shot that would at least merit bringing gun control back to the table.  I miss the days when that was actually a topic of discussion, unlike now.

He got into the concept of jobs.  Now there is a good talking point.  There’s no arguing that jobs really are a big issue in this country.  With unemployment almost at ten percent nationwide, it really needs to be discussed.  The job plan that he came up with actually sounded pretty good.

He first wanted to focus on this nation’s scientific programs.  He wanted us to invest in green technology and to basically make this a smarter nation.  I have a lot of respect for that.  He pointed out that America’s science and mathematics education has fallen behind, which is true.  But the idea was to get this nation’s innovation wheels spinning again.

Back to the concept of education, he finally said something worth saying—that “No Child Left Behind” needs to go.  The failed education policy that Bush put into practice is now at least being talked about in the interest of getting rid of it.  Obama wasn’t nice when he said that our education system in this country is broken and needs fixing.

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He also brought up something that I also believe really needs to be looked at—our nation’s infrastructure.  There are numerous studies, which Obama actually brought up, that show that our nation’s infrastructure is in the tank.  Our railway system needs to come into the 21 century.  Our schools, public services, roadways, etc., they all need a lot of work.  It is not a small issue.  But this comes to the point of the deficit.

It has been a big talking point of the Right ever since Obama came into office that the deficit in this country is out of control, believe it or not, but there is a lot of agreement from the left about that issue.  It is not as simple as 1-2-3.  It is going to take a lot of work.  However, Obama’s plan for reducing the deficit was rather convoluted.

The main talking points of the plan to reduce the deficit were about cuts to programs.  Now, there is probably a very high probability that this nation is spending money on programs that mean nothing, but it was the President’s lack of specificity that was rather interesting.  He made a point to avoid talking about cutting Social Security.  That was smart.  If he had said anything about cutting Social Security in this country, he could kiss the 2012 elections goodbye.

A cut that Obama did talk about that was something that probably a lot of people were glad to hear is cutting defense spending.  Let’s face it; defense spending in this country is out of control.  When no nation on Earth, or combination of several nations on Earth, spends as much as you do on your weapons of war, there needs to be a change.  He also brought up bringing the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan.  It’s about time!

There was a rather interesting point that Obama made when he pointed out that our country’s bureaucracy could use some work.  He cracked a joke about how the Department of the Interior regulates salmon in fresh water, and the Department of Commerce regulates them when they are in salt water.  I also find that rather odd, and it could definitely stand to be looked at.  Not just the salmon thing, of course, but all the similar issues, and there can be no doubt that there are many.

But after all the promises, ladies and gentlemen, after all the speaking, after all of that, don’t forget that this is just a speech.  What happens next is what will really matter.  What happens when the President is forced to have to live up to what he promised is what matters.  And the history of Obama living up to his word speaks for itself.

One could argue that he never really has.  Not well, anyway.