It was officially called the State of the Union Address, but what President Obama actually delivered on Tuesday night was a campaign speech targeted directly at his base. The message went something like this: “Unions, environmentalists, teachers, Hispanic immigrants, women, I’m your president…I’m your candidate.”
Consider the code words and messages sprinkled throughout the speech.
The president began with a shameless signal to the Code Pink crowd and anti-war left—the folks who fueled his rise and run for the White House. “For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq,” he declared, sidestepping the unraveling situation that has emerged as a result. And he went on: “We’ve begun to wind down the war in Afghanistan. Ten thousand of our troops have come home. Twenty-three thousand more will leave by the end of this summer.” Again, never mind what is left behind.
For Big Labor, he boasted about his efforts to get “workers and automakers to settle their differences” and get a government-owned, union-run General Motors “back on top as the world’s number one automaker.”
He gratuitously mentioned a “unionized plant in Milwaukee” and cited key union cities in key states for good measure: “Detroit and Toledo and Chicago…Cleveland and Pittsburgh.”
For the teachers’ unions, he lamented how “tight budgets have forced states to lay off thousands of teachers” and called on Congress to give states “the resources to keep good teachers on the job.” Drifting into meaningless platitudes, he promised that in exchange he would support programs to “replace teachers who just aren’t helping kids learn.”
While on the subject of meaningless platitudes, the president boasted that “there are fewer illegal crossings than when I took office.” The reason for that, of course, is that he’s presiding over the worst economy in four decades. In other words, there are no jobs to entice immigrants to cross America’s southern border—legally or illegally. (See Mitch Daniels’ sparkling rebuttal for more on why.)
But the president’s main message on immigration was for the amnesty lobby: “Hundreds of thousands of talented, hardworking students in this country face another challenge: The fact that they aren’t yet American citizens. Many were brought here as small children, are American through and through, yet they live every day with the threat of deportation,” he chided. “Let’s at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people,” who, it pays to recall, are not responsible enough to legalize their status.
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