The Blog

What Obama Didn't Say in the State of the Union

11:01 PM, Jan 24, 2012 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Obama's State of the Union might be most notable for what was not said. There were 44 words dedicated to health care reform. There was no mention of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, aka stimulus bill.

Official portrait of Barack Obama

That is rather telling, considering that these are Obama's two largest policy achivements, and they remain political kryptonite even years later.

Beyond that, the speech was chock-a-block full of half-baked policy ideas. Oddly enough, this approach is surprisingly pragmatic and reminiscent of Clinton's policy approach—propose a laundry list of ideas that sound pleasing to scattershot constituencies, then capitalize on the warm and fuzzy feelings provoked even if you have no intention of following through on any of those ideas.

The clasic example is when Bill Clinton was talking up legally enforcing school uniform policies. Of course, Clinton had no real intention of really following through on that. And I suspect that Obama calling on states to require mandatory high school graduation is an idea very much in the same vein—aimed at appealing to indpendents, even though it won't exactly be pursued zealously.

As for the rest of the speech, it was bookended by some strong military metaphors (even if they were an unpleasant reminder that the president wants to gut the armed forces budget). That leaves over an hour of something something building wind turbines with American workers something something still won't cover our $30 trillion Medicare shortfall. Snooze.

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 18 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers