If it's in the News, it's in our Polls. Public opinion polling since 2003.

 

A Chastened and Weary Obama Reports on State of the Union

A Commentary By Michael Barone

Friday, January 31, 2014

Not as bad as expected. That's my verdict on President Obama's fifth State of the Union address.

With his approval running well under 50 percent, Obama was not quite so confrontational as he has been in the past.

He conceded that in the last four years, wages "have barely budged," that inequality "has deepened" and upward mobility "has stalled." No more blaming everything on George W. Bush.

He noted obliquely that "last year the Voting Rights Act was weakened" without explicitly attacking the Supreme Court for its ruling that states could not be singled out for heightened scrutiny based on low voter turnout in the years from 1964 to 1972.

He said he would work with states expanding pre-kindergarten schooling and limited his Republican bashing to the phrase "as Congress decides what it's going to do." He noted approvingly Republican Sen. Marco Rubio's proposal to reshape the Earned Income Tax Credit.

To be sure, many of his proposals were pretty small-ball. He recycled calls for corporate tax reform, port upgrades and high-tech manufacturing hubs. He called for patent reform and savings bond investment accounts.

Contrary to press predictions, he did not harp on "income inequality" -- the phrase must poll poorly. The remedies he proposed -- raising the minimum wage and continuing 100-week unemployment benefits -- do pathetically little to address it.

Immigration and gun control got brief, vague paragraphs. His defensive paragraphs about Obamacare evoked as much laughter as applause.

His proclamation of economic progress was necessarily tepid. His hailing of America's approaching energy independence necessarily omitted the fact that his administration has done more to discourage than encourage the fracking revolution in oil and natural gas.

He was careful to say that solar panel installation can't be outsourced but of course failed to mention that solar panel manufacturing can be and is -- and that his crony capitalism "investment" in Solyndra and other solar firms was a bust.

On issues dear to the heart of Democratic core constituencies, he resorted to outright falsehoods.

Women earn only 77 cents for each dollar men earn, he said. That's a number that goes back to the 1970s. His own Labor Department's survey says that when you take account of hours worked and type of work, the number is more like 95 cents.

"Research shows that one of the best investments we can make in a child's life is high-quality early education," he said. Actually, his own Health and Human Services study has found no lasting value in Head Start programs.

"The debate is settled," he said. "Climate change is a fact." It is "already harming western communities suffering from drought and coastal cities dealing with floods."

Actually, temperatures have not increased over the last 15 years, as the global warming alarmists' models predicted. Perhaps they will over the longer run.

But most people who accept or reject global warming have the good sense to resist the temptation to claim that any recent unpleasant weather -- drought, floods, whatever -- confirms their view. Obama was unable to resist.

The president spent more time on foreign policy than expected, tacitly acknowledging mistakes. He admitted al Qaeda's "core leadership" is only on "a path to defeat" and its threat "has evolved" in Yemen, Somalia, Mali and Iraq.

That's an implicit admission that the failure to get an agreement to maintain some U.S. troops in Iraq has increased the threat -- and Obama could only say he hopes for such an agreement in Afghanistan.

On Syria, Obama said he would "support the opposition that rejects the agenda of terrorist networks" and work with allies to give the Syrian people "a future free of dictatorship, terror and fear." How?

Iran, he said, was forced to the negotiating table by tough sanctions, but he would veto the bill to add sanctions if negotiations fail -- but then would call for more himself. Huh

The best part was the end. Obama told of meeting Army Ranger Cory Remsburg at a D-Day anniversary and then again after he was seriously injured in Afghanistan -- and how Remsburg is recovering and determined to serve again.

"Men and women like Cory remind us that America has never come easy," he said, in an eloquent paragraph recounting America's achievements over 200-plus years that everyone in the audience could agree with.

An excellent end to an overlong speech by an apparently chastened and weary president.

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2014 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

See Other Political Commentaries.

See Other Commentaries by Michael Barone.

Views expressed in this column are those of the author, not those of Rasmussen Reports. Comments about this content should be directed to the author or syndicate.

Rasmussen Reports is a media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion information.

We conduct public opinion polls on a variety of topics to inform our audience on events in the news and other topics of interest. To ensure editorial control and independence, we pay for the polls ourselves and generate revenue through the sale of subscriptions, sponsorships, and advertising. Nightly polling on politics, business and lifestyle topics provides the content to update the Rasmussen Reports web site many times each day. If it's in the news, it's in our polls. Additionally, the data drives a daily update newsletter and various media outlets across the country.

Some information, including the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll and commentaries are available for free to the general public. Subscriptions are available for $3.95 a month or 34.95 a year that provide subscribers with exclusive access to more than 20 stories per week on upcoming elections, consumer confidence, and issues that affect us all. For those who are really into the numbers, Platinum Members can review demographic crosstabs and a full history of our data.

To learn more about our methodology, click here.