State of the Union address


After President Obama finished his State of the Union address last night, a conservative friend of mine sent me this text message: “They always talk about Clinton moving to the center. Obama is moving far right!”

I don’t agree that Obama is moving far right, but as I responded to my friend, “I always thought Obama was more conservative than Nancy Pelosi allowed him to appear.”

“True, but this was stunning,” my friend wrote back. “American Exceptionalism? Reducing corporate taxes? Maybe this Reagan stuff is affecting him. Liberals must be pissed.”

He was right. Judging by the post-address commentary on MSNBC, some far-left liberals definitely were pissed. As a matter of fact, I had to change the channel to CNN after some of the MSNBC commentary started bordering on whining. (As usual, CNN had the best middle-ground coverage of a presidential speech.)

Here’s what I don’t understand: Obama obviously leans more to the left than the right, so why does he continue to get so much criticism from fellow Democrats? Why don’t the Democrats act like the Republicans and support their president?

I’m not saying that Obama — or any politician, for that matter — is above criticism, but the president has delivered on some significant liberal agenda items, including comprehensive healthcare reform and abolishment of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. How far left do the president’s critics really expect him to go?

It long has been apparent to me that Obama is a pragmatist. He understands the political reality of his situation. He knows he must compromise with Republicans in order to get more done — but his left-leaning critics don’t seem willing to accept this. If they don’t wise up, they won’t appreciate Obama’s presidency until he leaves the White House — and by then, they may not have anyone left in the Oval Office willing to listen to anything they want.

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Since neither Ottawa Delivered nor The Times has U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger’s reaction to President Obama’s State of the Union address posted on their websites, and Kinzinger is the U.S.  congressman who represents Ottawa, I’m going to post the freshman Republican legislator’s response here, courtesy of The Pantagraph (Bloomington-Normal’s daily newspaper)*:

“In his State of the Union address tonight, President Obama made it clear that we must turn our focus squarely onto growing a competitive nation. The way to make our nation prosperous is by getting our neighbors back to work and ensuring our economy works for American families and businesses.

“The President made promising remarks about job creation, but the only action Americans have heard from Washington Democrats over the past two years is that more government spending and higher taxes are the only solutions to grow our economy and create jobs.

“The actions and decisions made by prior Congresses have led us to where we are today. Nearly one in 10 of our neighbors remain unemployed. Over the last two years unemployment has skyrocketed from 7.8 percent to 9.4 percent.

“In addition, our nation’s debt now exceeds $14 trillion. More than $3.3 trillion of this debt was piled on in just two years.

“We cannot continue down this slippery slope with the same failed policies that has led our nation to fewer jobs, more government spending and an intrusive expansion of government.

“As Ronald Reagan once said, ‘All great change in America begins at the dinner table.’

“This past November, American families, businesses, seniors and taxpayers sent a clear message to Washington. All across the nation, Americans chose the path toward limited government, reduced spending and a free-market system.

“We must quit spending more money than we take in and we must focus our efforts toward growing the private sector, where jobs are created. We have tough decisions to make but we can make them while living within our means.

“Earlier today, the House passed a budget resolution that would cut spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels. This, along with additional spending reforms, will ensure we continue to eliminate wasteful spending, and will force government to cut up their credit cards.

“House Republicans made a promise to the people to put our nation back on track towards fiscal responsibility, economic growth and accountable and transparent government, and this is a promise we intend to keep.

“We must promote and foster free enterprise here in America. Congress must work tirelessly to implement policies that encourage entrepreneurship, cultivate innovation and reward the hard work that will lead us toward prosperity.”

* I want to make clear that my posting of Kinzinger’s response doesn’t represent endorsement or rejection of his positions. It just bothers me that neither of Ottawa’s newspapers put the response on their websites, and I would have done so. It is important for constituents to know what their elected officials have to say about issues of the day.