State of the Union 2011

Published 8:54 pm Monday, January 31, 2011

I skipped the analysis after the President’s State of the Union speech Tuesday night because all Democrats would profess that it was profound and all Republicans would profess that it was equivalent to the quality of discourse on “The View.” In my opinion it fell somewhere between those opposite ends.

As rhetoric, it had President Obama’s usual quality although the speech fell flat. Because Democrats and Republicans sat together, standing ovations were less frequent and less intense than in former years. Without Nancy Pelosi imitating a jack-in-the-box, there was a much more serious atmosphere in the House chamber than in 2010.

Perhaps, the scale of the Democratic defeat last November dampened the enthusiasm of Democrats.

Perhaps, nobody wanted to revert to partisan behavior because of recent criticism of partisanship after Tucson.

For whatever reason, it seemed duller than previous State of the Union speeches.

After a few days had elapsed, the overall theme of the speech seems to me to be extremely strange. The “elephant in the room” was our huge and growing debt. I expected the president to highlight debt and what we can do about it. Instead, he spoke about governmental investing in innovative, green energy, bullet trains, etc.  If ever a term deserved to be labeled an oxymoron, governmental innovation deserves that label. He spoke about our “Sputnik” moment. As a citizen who vividly remembers the real Sputnik moment, I thought that was a particularly inept reference. First, we have no military rival to match the Soviets in the late 1950s.  Second, it was Barack Obama who suspended NASA’s program for the moment. Third, now we have no money to spend on repeating the kind of government program that put a man on the moon.

I heard a joke that sums up my opinion of this year’s State of the Union speech and the 2010 State of the Union speech. A father in the winter of 2010 gave his son a large sum of money to test out his son’s theory of winning at roulette. The son left for Las Vegas. About a year later his son finally called home. The son said that he was doing fine and he had figured out how to beat the roulette wheel. Then he asked his father to send more money.

It seems to me that this country is the father and Barack Obama is the son. Governmental investment is equivalent to beating the roulette wheel. I say that we should cut him off. With more than $14 trillion in debt and an annual deficit this year of $1.5 trillion more, we can’t afford to give him any more money.  Governmental investment is about as crazy as investing in a strategy to beat the roulette wheel. Let’s keep more money in the private sector and encourage private investors to innovate. Let’s begin seriously to reduce our indebtedness before we sink under its burden.

Michael L. Waldron