The Washington Post

Obama speech: 54 minutes to say nothing

If the Republican National Committee is tweeting out MSNBC commentary, you know the president’s speech was a bust:

At least we know who the honest liberals are.

President Obama hyped his speech and then delivered a long, boring and cliche-ridden address. That tells us a few things. Most important, there is no policy initiative driving his argument for reelection. He wants the votes to break a “stalemate” and give him a mandate. But to do what? Some mumbling about fairness, a plea for a tiny bit more taxes on the rich (to what end?) and promises to hire an “army” of teachers (do we have a teaching shortage)? And if he doesn’t get big majorities in the House and Senate, why should we think he can work with them?

For those debating if there is no there, there — no relief from dreary liberal statism, no deficit plan, no comprehensive tax plan, no desire other than to win — the speech should settle it.

Obama is back to moderate generalities and nice words about past Republicans (Nixon began EPA!), but little else. Has he been president for more than three years? Did the Democrats hold the House and Senate for two years? You’d never know it from the president’s remarks.

Obama wants to take up the challenge to debate two visions of America. But we are one vision short. Mitt Romney has explained his overarching view that the private sector is the engine of growth and has set out specific policies on everything from taxes to entitlement reform Obama has not. The president assures us that government isn’t the answer to all problems (well, that’s a relief), but he doesn’t give voters a clear view of what he is for. (And if it is just hiring teachers he should run for school board.)

Obama can’t run on his record (What happened to Stimulus 1? Obamacare? Shhh.). But why can’t he come up with a genuine agenda? Perhaps what he wants (bigger government, more borrowing) isn’t what the American people will buy.

A final note. He’s the commander in chief, but he views, it seems, the defense budget as a piggy bank for more “nation-building” at home. The phrase is obnoxious — as if we didn’t have a mature economy already — but revealing of his core philosophy. That “savings” is money we don’t have, but he’s already thinking up ways to satisfy his core backers (teachers unions) and grow the federal government, as if we can borrow with abandon. He makes his opponent’s argument: All he knows is how to spend more and borrow more.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.


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