Freedom New Mexico
The State of the Union message wasn’t always the media spectacle it has become. President Thomas Jefferson simply delivered a written report to Congress, and that precedent was maintained for more than a century, until the presidency of Woodrow Wilson, who decided to deliver his message to Congress in person. The growing theatricality of the address has tracked the steady accumulation of power in the executive branch of government and the creation of what author Gene Leary calls “the cult of the presidency.”
Thus President Barack Obama’s performance tonight of this political assignment will be reviewed almost as a theatrical performance, with more points given for style than substance. States of the Union, which have the potential of defining a presidency in the eyes of the people, are most often dry laundry lists of minor and major proposals, each given a few talking points. President Obama could do more by boldly recognizing reality.
At some level, he surely must understand that the programs his administration implemented in the first two years have fallen woefully short of success in terms of the figure most Americans care most about, the percentage of people unemployed, and this just won’t do. Politically, he cannot afford a jobless recovery.
The frustrating thing for politicians of all stripes is that the real key to facilitating job creation is to get out of the way — or at least take a rest for awhile. The administration’s activist first two years have created a climate of deep uncertainty for private businesses that can’t predict which new regulation or mandate will be imposed or when. So, they hold back from the kind of ventures that would require creating new jobs.
The president has tried to create the impression of a more business-friendly climate through appointing a few corporate honchos to key posts. A concrete manifestation of his understanding of the need at least for a predictable government policy environment would be the announcement that the Environmental Protection Agency is suspending efforts to institute something resembling carbon-emission cap-and-trade through regulation after a Democratic-controlled Congress failed to do so through legislation.
That and other policies, such as trumping the Republicans with larger proposed budget cuts that include the shrinking or abolition of a few useless agencies, like the Small Business Administration, that specialize in corporate welfare, would make this State of the Union memorable and substantial.