There’s really nothing I can add, after enduring non-stop excerpts from last nights waste of airtime.
The most emotionally powerful moment in Barack Obama’s State of the Union address was also its most morally dubious. The nation’s commander in chief drew attention to a wounded warrior while eliding any responsibility for placing the young man in harm’s way.
A record number of Americans – 60 percent – think the government is too powerful, says Gallup, which also finds a near record low percentage trusts the government “to do what is right.” Who can blame us? The government under Republican and Democratic presidents has spent virtually the entire 21st century sending young men and women to fight in ill-defined and unsuccessful elective wars. That’s bad enough, but then to use them as props in political speeches? That’s positively obscene.
After a typical laundry list of empty boasts (unemployment is down largely because labor force participation is tanking), fantasy policy prescriptions (“a new savings bond that encourages people to build a nest egg”?), and outright falsehoods (economic mobility has not declined), President Obama introduced America to Cory Remsburg, “a proud Army Ranger,” who “on his tenth deployment … was nearly killed by a massive roadside bomb in Afghanistan.”
Even more than economic meltdown, America’s 21st century has been defined by unfocused and ill-considered elective wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. While both were initially prosecuted in the name of preventing another 9/11 attack, 53 percent of Americans considered Iraq a mistake by the war’s 10th anniversary and just 17 percent support the Afghanistan war. None of that seems to resonate with Obama, who unilaterally (and unconstitutionally) committed the U.S. to NATO bombing raids in Libya despite no clear national interest and was just days away from bombing Syria before public outrage and a small handful of elected officials forced him to back down last fall.
“Patriotism is the last refuge to which a scoundrel clings,” Bob Dylan once sang, updating Samuel Johnson’s dark maxim. Obama’s gesture in the State of the Union will only accelerate the cynicism that already understandably dominates public opinion. There is no more serious decision that a government makes than to send its citizens a war. And there is nothing more disturbing than a president using soldiers’ sacrifices as a way of selling a grab-bag of domestic policy agenda items.