February 13, 2013

The more I read about last night’s State of the Union address, the more discouraged I become. As a second-term president, President Obama should be willing to take us to an honest place.

Washington is in desperate need of a common set of facts. Instead the president gives us the opposite. Hilary Rosen and her crowd breathlessly cheer every Obama platitude and recklessly enable the increasingly cloistered and egocentric president to go unchallenged by the truth. Hilary laments that, “Pre-school for all kids, mortgage assistance, affordable college [whatever that is] and infrastructure investment…didn’t used to be partisan issues.”  Well, clean water, good food and healthy babies aren’t partisan issues either, but we do differ over who pays for what. Let’s be honest: Partisanship isn’t about being for or against all the good things that Americans could have — it’s about how we can pay for these things and have an honest debate about the wisdom and consequences of more spending, borrowing and taxing.

Take a look at The Post Fact Checker Glenn Kessler’s first take on the president’s speech.  Obama’s parsing, selective use of numbers and distorted math are downright dishonest —  even though Kessler won’t use that word. I will be the first to acknowledge that it is right and proper for a politician to offer the most flattering portrayal of his time in office. Even —  heaven forbid — some pure spin is okay with me. But there is a time and a place.

A second-term president is unique. The president’s portrayal of his performance and his goals for the nation’s debt and deficit are beyond spin or even artful parsing. He tells whoppers that inhibit action. If he and his party pretend that the debt and deficit and government spending are under control, then Washington can’t really affect the cancer of the red ink. There is no penalty for a lame-duck president being honest. The president should tell the truth or say nothing. Instead he adds to the confusion in our politics by ignoring bad news or simply declaring failure to be success. As one example, see Victor Davis Hanson’s analysis of some of fact vs. fiction on Obama’s claims regarding oil and gas production.

Last night was not a step in the right direction. It is alarming that the president doesn’t want to wait until his memoirs to sugarcoat his tenure.

 

Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.