Responding to the State of the Union

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by Peter Deccy, Peace Action

President Obama’s third State of the Union message began and ended in homily honoring our men and women in uniform.  The President referred to them as the one institution that actually worked like it should.  Mission focused, trusting one another, working as a team.

He encouraged our government to be just like them.  We’ll see…

If you were watching the address on the CSPAN website, you could see Members of Congress furiously tweeting their thoughts which then appeared below the screen.  Many of them apparently didn’t hear the clarion call for togetherness, instead engaging in accusations of class warfare and decrying higher taxes for the rich as soon as the President’s words on those topics left his lips.

The President made a great case for the rich paying its fair share, a call for fundamental fairness in taxation.  He called for investment in energy independence and job creation as expected, but still, welcome words to the progressive wing of his party.

He was passionate.  He was confident. In response, Governor Daniels provided an uninspired regurgitation of the standard Republican line, very Herbert Hoover, circa 1928. Very 1%.

Peace advocates however, should be concerned.  The President seemed to be capping Pentagon cuts at $500 billion, far below what is possible, leaving spending at intolerable and unsustainable levels. It’s just as he described in his speech; “somebody else has to make up the difference— like a senior on a fixed income; or a student trying to get through school; or a family trying to make ends meet.”

He basically promised Iran he would order a military strike on their alleged nuclear facilities if he became convinced they were about to build their first nuclear bomb.  He made no reference to abolishing nuclear weapons, his claim to Nobel fame, his Prague pledge.

Afghanistan? The President recommitted himself to withdrawing the remaining surge troops this summer, but then spoke of an “enduring partnership” to prevent the return of al-Qaida. With some 65,000 troops left in Afghanistan after the summer drawdown, the President may well be signaling a long and costly US military presence. Given the levels of corruption in Afghanistan’s government, which really controls very little of the country, the grinding poverty and an insurgency that is unlikely to disappear as long as foreign troops remain, very long and very costly.

A Veterans Job Corps sounded good, but he really didn’t have enough to say about our returning veterans either.  Will they, each and everyone, receive the medical care they need, and everything else the recruiter promised them.

In the end, the President returned to honoring the dedication and professionalism of our military. He used the raid on bin Laden as his touchstone.  This is how all America should confront its challenges; working together, focused on the mission at hand.  How could Republicans possibly resist working with the President for the sake of America.

Nicely done, but the tweets told me don’t get my hopes up.

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Showing 4 comments
  • Dolores Welty

    Both President Obama and Jerry Brown renewed my hopes in their “State of the …” speeches.
    Huge NGO movements are on the move nationally to pressure Obama to make his words bare fruit.
    Although the mainstream newspapers keep touting war with Iran, both Panetta and Hillary have come out to say Iran is not moving toward a nuclear weapon.. That’s huge!
    The cancellation of the Keystone Pipeline is huge..
    Any cut in the military during this economic downturn means loss of jobs. Bringing soldiers home means more unem0ployed if they are allowed to leave the service. There are many problems to solve out there.
    I was encouraged by the President’s speech.

  • pjnugent

    I was too, but we have to see what the Rs are going to do. The “tweets” are not hopeful.

  • Patricia Blair

    I believe that Ron Paul has a better grasp on what is best for America: stop policing/threatening the world and bring the troops home.Stop supporting Israel and other human rights violators.Obama’s actions have always spoken louder than his empty promises…

  • Ludwig1251

    Too bad Mr. Paul carries all that baggage (and I don’t mean his wife’s fish sticks!)

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