What State is the Union In?

by THE EDITOR January 25, 2011
 
The President’s State of the Union Address is mandated by the Constitution – in Article II, Section Three:
 
He 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; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.
 
The very first State of the Union Address was given by George Washington. This was delivered on January 8, 1790 in the Federal Hall in New York. Washington had written the speech five days previously, and it then dealt with issues that included the exhortation that:
 
"....we ought to be prepared to afford protection to those parts of the Union....(the southern and western frontiers)...."from (the) depredations (of the) ....hostile tribes of Indians...."
 
Today, President Obama will be making his State of the Union Address. There are no longer “hostile tribes of Indians” to worry about, but this administration has spent two years avoiding another problem - the issue of Mexican drug gangs, human traffickers and even terrorists from Hezbollah who cross the poorly protected southern border with impunity.
 
It is highly unlikely that the issue of the southern border will be mentioned in the State of the Union Address today. The administration appears more concerned with appeasing the La Raza lobby with promises of “pathways to legality” for America’s 10.8 million illegals than dealing with the drugs, gun-running and crime that are currently moving across the southern border.
 
Instead, there will probably be homilies about cooperation with former foes Russia and China, and maybe there will be mention of progress in the wars that are currently being pursued in Iraq and Afghanistan. There will probably be mention of the recent shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. We can but hope that there will be no more homespun homilies about the need for national “healing,” considering the divisive policies and statements that have been made by this president during his two years in power.
 
The guests for the first lady’s box have been named. They include congressional intern Daniel Hernandez, who comforted Gabrielle Giffords when she was shot, the parents of Christina Green, who died in the Tucson attack, and Peter Rhee, the team leader among the doctors who treated Ms Giffords.  Military guests include Salvatore Giunta, winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor, Staff Sergeant Brian Mast (who suffered horrific injuries from an Afghan  roadside bomb four months ago) and his wife Brianna, and also Gunnery Sergeant Nicole Mohabir.
 
Following tradition, the contents of the president’s State of the Union Address do not get released until the speech has been delivered, so speculation about its contents abounds.
  Washington Post columnist Karen Tumulty describes the annual addresses as” a production - part theater, part pep rally - that says as much about the state of our culture” and adds: “On this most scripted of evenings, there is still the potential for mishap - and improvisation.”
 
Two  issues are being proclaimed as certain subjects for the State of the Union Address – the economy and the issue of Obamacare. The New York Times states:
 
The darkest clouds that marred the economic landscape last summer and fall have indeed lifted, but expectations have also been reined in. Many of the factors that have restrained growth, including heavy household debt and strained state and local budgets, remain. Parts of Europe are still unstable, and higher food and energy prices could crimp household spending. The construction industry has not yet staged a comeback.
 
The small signs of improvement in the economy deserve to be emphasized – there is a climate of grim stoicism in the face of economic uncertainty, but small signs of growth should be acknowleged. However, signs of light in a tunnel do not mean one is out of that tunnel.
 
Politico concentrates on the issue of Health Care reform, with columnist David Nather writing
 
It will be Obama’s first State of the Union address since he signed health care reform into law in March, and the public is still deeply divided over his biggest legislative accomplishment… Obama is likely to make the same arguments his administration has been making in recent days: The law has already been helping average Americans and small businesses, and repealing it would take important protections away from them.
 
The first person to appear on the Washington Post’s feature on guests at the first lady’s box is mechanic Jim Houser from Oregon, who affirmed in September that “the new small business tax credit helped him continue to provide health coverage for his employees.”
 
The president has spent the first two years of the administration promoting policies and opinions that have not been supported by a decisive majority of Americans, backed up by majorities in both houses. After the midterms, that strategic advantage has been lost. It will be very interesting to see what will happen this evening. After the Tucson shootings and the climate of hysteria about “hate-filled rhetoric” that was whipped up by a supportive press, it was easy for the president to claim to be a peace maker and bridge-builder.
 
After a less-than-glorious track record on New START, passivity instead of standing up to Chinese military and economic activities, and having wasted time unsuccessfully trying to convince an intransigent Muslim world that America is a touchy-feely friend for all time, bland statements will not make a big impression.
 
What are the bets that the president, whose policies have managed to avoid dealing with serious international issues head-on, will continue in the same vein during tonight’s speech, and he will stick to putting a gloss on non-contentious domestic issues?
 
The Editor, Family Security Matters.

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