Ryan’s speech lays down the choice for America: embrace limited government or face the fate of Greece.
Posts For: January 25, 2011
The Republican response — indeed, the opposition-party response — to the State of the Union is usually the graveyard of upward ambitions. Not tonight. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin congressman, is giving what is certainly the best such response in memory, and will — and should — spark serious talk about him as the Republican nominee next year. He has said flatly he’s not running. Maybe it would be wiser for a 41-year-old like Ryan to wait until 2016. But this speech reminds us that the deep bench of younger politicians — with Ryan and Marco Rubio and Chris Christie and Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley, among many others — really belongs to the GOP.
No one may be watching, but Paul Ryan is doing well in his GOP response to the president by sounding the alarm about out-of-control government spending that was fueled by President Obama’s “investments,” which have massively expanded the power of the government and the deficit.
Forget about the unsightly and sophomoric partisan displays at past State of the Union speeches. Nothing is as bad as the spectacle of members of our House of Representatives and Senate besieging the president asking for his autograph on his way out of the chamber. At one point, the president could be heard joking about those signed programs winding up on eBay. It was a joke, but I’d bet that most of the audience on television believes it.
The conclusion to the speech was properly Reaganesque in its optimistic belief in America. Most of the speech was a weak attempt to defend his record in expanding the role of government while trying to paper over the real differences that led to his party’s defeat last November. But his ending was a proper paean to the greatness of our nation. It was a good conclusion to a generally weak speech.
I guess Obama sold his copy of Fareed Zakaria’s The Post-American World to abebooks.com.
The conclusion of the speech is stunning. Watch for the word “Reaganesque” to be applied ad nauseam by people who hated Reagan but love Obama.
Obama calls on universities to allow ROTC back on campus. Hopefully this marks the end of the controversy surrounding the anti-ROTC policies: “And with that change, I call on all of our college campuses to open their doors to our military recruiters and the ROTC. It is time to leave behind the divisive battles of the past. It is time to move forward as one nation.”
In the course of praising America, Obama says that, in some countries, “If the central government wants a railroad, they get a railroad — no matter how many homes are bulldozed.” I guess he never read the Supreme Court’s Kelo decision allowing just such outrages if a state or city wants to do a favor to a large corporation or entity.
Obama reaffirms the importance of supporting democracy movements around the world. This type of rhetoric had been toned down during his administration, and so it’s nice to hear him say it so firmly tonight: “And tonight, let us be clear: the United States of America stands with the people of Tunisia, and supports the democratic aspirations of all people.”
President Obama cites our support for the struggle for democracy in Tunisia. But not that in any country where it has not already succeeded in ousting a dictatorship. In other words, human-rights activists around the globe are on their own as Obama’s indifference to this issue has illustrated over the past two years.
Obama to al-Qaeda: “We have sent a message from the Afghan border to the Arabian Peninsula to all parts of the globe: we will not relent, we will not waver, and we will defeat you.” But we will also withdraw from Afghanistan no matter what. Which means that the message is that our enemies just need to hang on until we get tired and they will prevail.
As he was praising himself for his efforts to block Iran’s nuclear efforts, he made his first verbal stumble — when trying to say “tougher sanctions.”
“And we have sent a message from the Afghan border to the Arabian Peninsula to all parts of the globe: we will not relent, we will not waver, and we will defeat you.”
And if not, we’re leaving anyway.
Speaking of Iraq, Obama says: “American leadership has been renewed and America’s standing has been restored.” Translation: President Bush was right and I was wrong about that war, but I’ll never admit it.
Only a few Republicans, such as John McCain, stood up and applauded when the president said he wouldn’t sign a bill with earmarks. That’s real bipartisanship, as many members of both parties aren’t happy about the end of the gravy train.
He will absolutely sign bills with earmarks.
Obama calls for a five-year spending freeze. Sounds a lot like the three-year spending freeze he proposed at last year’s State of the Union – and then promptly ignored.
“He came out with the same thing last year,” a key GOP-er told US News and World Report tonight, “but still came out with $70 billion in new spending.”
“The last major reorganization of the federal government happened in the age of black and white TV?” Really? What about the Homeland Security Department?
After a bow to the GOP with his call for medical-malpractice reform, Obama is back to liberal rhetoric with his call for increasing taxes on wealthier Americans. Like the oil companies, rich people are easy targets. But the president doesn’t explain how soaking the rich will lower the deficit, since it will also curtail investment.