Shia Altman///Many years ago, there was an Emperor, who was so excessively fond of new clothes, that he spent all his money in dress. He did not trouble himself in the least about his soldiers; nor did he care to go either to the theatre or the chase, except for the opportunities then afforded him for displaying his new clothes.
He had a different suit for each hour of the day; and as of any other king or emperor, one is accustomed to say, “He is sitting in council,” it was always said of him, “The Emperor is sitting in his wardrobe.”
So begins the Hans Christian Andersen children’s fable, The Emperor’s New Clothes.
President Barack Obama began his final State of the Union addresslast week by saying he would try to make it a little shorter (than previous ones). His first was his shortest at 51 minutes and 44 seconds; his longest had been 1 hour, 9 minutes and 20 seconds. After applause by both political party members of Congress, he thenproceeded to speak for 58 minutes and 44 seconds. Big whoop. And the length was not because of any protracted raucous applause.
Had the speech been noteworthy for anything at all and not simply been a predicted (and inaccurate) pat on the back, perhaps more people would have cared. A record low audience since the ratings company Nielsen started keeping track of these speeches in 1993 tuned in. Perhaps the speech boycotters knew what was coming or had finally had enough of the president. I think it was a combination of both.
(Personally, I think the formal State of the Union has long since outlived its usefulness, if there ever was one. Article II, Section 3, Clause 1 of the US Constitution does say, “He (the president) shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”
Now, this doesn’t mean there should be the kind of pageantry and bloviating we are now accustomed to seeing and hearing. And just so you know, we can thank Woodrow Wilson for this. Before he went to the Capitol building to deliver the address in 1913, presidents used to basically call it in with written reports. Ah, the good ol’ days.
Of course, as presidents are wont to do, they paint the best picture they can, ignoring reality. No president will ever say, “Tonight I tell you, my fellow Americans, I suck and the state of the union sucks. Everything sucks. Thank you and may God bless you and may God bless The United States of America. Which at the moment by the way, sucks.”)
The average American knows things are not as rosy as was proclaimed by President Obama.
And, yes, unemployment is at 5%, which would be great if that rate meant full employment, but it does not. Those not receiving unemployment benefits are not included the calculation. Double the number to get the real rate. The employed also includes many part-time workers, even 16-year-old babysitters. Full labor participation is the lowest it has been since within the Carter administration, with minorities suffering more than other demographics. Wage growth has been stagnant as well.
Finally, Gross Domestic Product was a very pathetic, underperforming 2% last quarter. It’s no wonder the RealClearPolitics Direction of the Country poll average shows only 25.5% of Americans believing we are on the right track. Everyone knows someone who is hurting if they aren’t hurting themselves.
In the foreign policy arena, well, do I really need to say? Al-Qaeda and Isis have stretched their tentacles farther and farther around the globe. Even a small country like Burkina Faso in West Africa is not immune to terrorism, as we saw only a couple days ago when nearly30 people were killed in an Al-Qaeda attack at a hotel. There are tens of thousands of terrorists now roaming the globe and controlling large swaths of territory like never before, and Barack Obama refers to them as “a handful.”
While acknowledging the danger from ISIS, the president downplayed it by referring to “masses of fighters on the back of pickup trucks,” and “twisted souls plotting in apartments or garages.” He did not refer to the “fighters” or “twisted souls” as Islamic, heaven forbid.
Obama emphatically said, “They do not threaten our national existence.” And of course they don’t. But by that “twisted“ logic, because Hamas cannot ever destroy Israel, the Israelis should not get so exercised by terrorist attacks. The same could apply to France or any other country.
The president made no mention of the American sailors who for whatever reason that day entered Iranian waters, and he could have said something, anything, to inform and reassure the public. Although I am grateful the sailors were returned fairly quickly and unharmed, the Iranians did all they could to humiliate the United States.
(Speaking of American military personnel, as of the publishing of this column, there are 12 marines missing off the coast of Hawaii’s Oahu Island after two helicopter crashes. You can see who they are by clicking here. Please keep these 12 fine men and their families in your thoughts and prayers.)
I am also glad for the return of several Americans held hostage by the Iranians on Saturday, but they were not freed outright. First, they should never have been imprisoned, second, the US should not have had to trade people we were holding for crimes against our country, and finally, we caved to Iranian threats and held off implementating (limited) sanctions aimed at penalizing Iran for its recent test-firings of a nuclear warhead intercontinental ballistic missile.
I don’t think Obama left the sailors out of the speech because of any delicate negotiations. I think when it comes to Iran, with the president wanting to keep a dangerous nuclear deal safe at any cost, he and his secretary of state allow the Iranians to lead them by the nose.
Neglected “Red line” Syria and its mess of death and refugees continues.
Afghanistan (the “good war”) with its Taliban troubles is becoming more and more unstable, and Iraq, parts of it beginning to be dominated by Iran, remains very problematic. Obama was in such a hurry to withdraw troops from both countries – and he did, caring more about campaign promises than military strategy and common sense, that because of failure, he had to begin redeployment. US gains paid for in blood and treasure squandered.
There is so much wrong with Obama’s foreign policy rationale and how the world has descended into chaos on his watch, I could easily write a book about it, perhaps several, to tell you what every fair-minded person already knows. Needless to say, the arrogant president refuses to see any urgency, God help us.
The president painted the rosiest of pictures, and his supporters rose to their feet on occasion, fawning agreement. But even as the most sycophantic of the glee club tried their best to dress their leader in royal garb of purple lace and golden thread, they knew very well that he was naked.
“But the Emperor has nothing at all on!” said a little child. “Listen to the voice of innocence!” exclaimed his father; and what the child had said was whispered from one to another. “But he has nothing at all on!” at last cried out all the people.
The Emperor was vexed, for he knew that the people were right; but he thought the procession must go on now! And the lords of the bedchamber took greater pains than ever, to appear holding up a train, although, in reality, there was no train to hold.”