Tragedy and Comedy at the SOTU
I couldn't help but think of the "tragedy and comedy" Janus masks as I watched Joe Biden and John Boehner dutifully sit behind President Obama as he delivered his painfully long State of the Union speech.
Biden's comedic goofy grins were a knee jerk response to Obama's overtures to help the little guy, whereas Boehner's tragic pouts reflected the harsh fact-driven reality that such policies actually hurt Mr. and Mrs. Main Street.
Here are just a few examples of Obama's glaringly inane propositions.
Obama stressed the need for job creation, but the fact is that artificially raising the minimum wage to $9/hr will stifle jobs. Faced with increasingly tighter budgets due to a shrinking economy, higher taxes, health care costs and overly burdensome regulations imposed by Obama, the average business of any size will be forced to cut back on employees if they are compelled to pay higher wages. It sounds nice and that's why Joe Biden smiled, but calling for an increase in the minimum wage will hurt the very people it is designed to help. Boehner gets it and that's why he smirked; he knows that Republican policies favor the guy on the street.
Obama wants "common sense" reform like "universal background checks to make it harder for criminals to get guns." But criminals don't purchase their weapons legally, so they won't undergo any kind of background check when they acquire their guns through illegal means, like, always. All the background checks in the world wouldn't have saved that young girl in Chicago who performed at Obama's inauguration. This so-called "common sense" approach might bring a grin to Biden's face, but Boehner clearly sees through the spin and understands it is nothing but nonsense.
Apparently, there are too many potential home buyers who can't get credit from lending institutions for a mortgage or to refinance an existing home. According to Obama, this is "holding the entire economy back" and he wants Congress to send him a bill to sign. But it is precisely this kind of legislation, like Dodd-Frank, that prevents lending institutions from making loans to buyers with solid credit. Biden was all a tither about Obama standing up for home owners, but Boehner rightly keyed in on the subterfuge -- this was a mess brought on by the Democrats and Boehner didn't find it the least bit as endearing as Joe.
It sure sounds presidential when Obama makes pronouncements worthy of Joe's toothy smile that he "will do whatever [he] must to protect those who serve abroad" like our diplomats and intelligence officers. Given the recent testimony by Leon Panetta on Benghazigate, is there any doubt in anyone's mind why Boehner would be scowling at this? Maybe the pure hypocrisy of claiming you'd do anything, when in fact you did nothing, could account for it.
Behind Obama's foolish remarks about China's dedication to clean energy lies the dirty reality of the Chinese walking in a haze of pollution so thick they have to wear masks and kerchiefs over their mouths and eyes. They're not burning clean energy; the energy they consume is burning their eyes and throats. Does Biden actually believe if he keeps on smilin' that will make it true? Say it ain't so, Joe.
Obama said we can believe that the vicissitudes in our climate are "freak coincidences" or we can "choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science." Interesting. We can "choose" to believe in global warming. So, it isn't a proven fact we must believe; it is a choice. Even though it is "the overwhelming judgment of science," implicit in this statement is the admission that this isn't fact that must be believed based on its objective truth. So what's Joe beaming about? There is no consensus about global warming among scientists and, even if there were, consensus does not establish truth. This is why we have to choose to believe. Judging from his mug, Biden clearly believes we can click our heels together three times and want something so badly that it will happen. Oh, Joe, if you only had a brain.
Joe was all a'grin as Obama called for making high quality pre-school available to every child. Yet, I wouldn't be surprised if Boehner's pained look stemmed from the knowledge that years of testing and observation have established that pre-school programs like Head Start did not account for any discernible difference in achievement among those who started school in Kindergarten and those who started earlier. This is a fact. Not something we can choose to believe.
Ah, immigration reform. Obama said we know what needs to be done (stronger border security, a series of steps to set illegals on the "path to citizenship" like background checks, paying taxes, learning English and going to the back of the line). He promised that if Congress passes a bipartisan bill he will sign it. Joe can smile all he wants about all of those potential Democrat voter registrations, but Boehner knows better. He hasn't forgotten that Obama stated he would not sign any bill that predicates the "path to citizenship" on proof that the border has been secured and existing immigration laws enforced.
Smile, America! Obama has assured us and so it must be. The wars are drawing to a close. Al Qaeda is a "shadow of its former self." Despite 4 years snubbing and undermining Israel, Obama promises that America will "stand steadfast with Israel in...securing lasting peace." The recession is ending despite sluggish growth, a contraction last quarter, a $16 trillion deficit, and unemployment holding steady at 7.9%. As for the millions out of work or underemployed? Don't look so glum! King Obama and Jester Joe love ya!
Wipe those Boehner-like scowls off your face! The State of the Union is strong and we've cleared away the "rubble of crisis." Businesses created 6 million new jobs, the housing market is healing even though people can't get mortgages or refinance and Obama magically decreased the deficit by trillions (I guess he did that in Oz where Biden is looking for a brain). And, he did so mostly by spending cuts (I guess the entire country missed that memo).
Obama explained that health care costs are increasing and driving the debt (not the spending, stupid) and then he contradicted himself when he said that Obamacare is slowing health care costs. Are they rising or abating? If costs are decreasing, shouldn't the debt be going down? Maybe that look on Biden's face isn't a smile but gastric distress trying to understand Obama's logic.
And, let's not forget that "nearly everyone's energy bills are lower"! Really? All of that wind and solar energy didn't do anything to lower my gas and electric bills. And all of that oil Obama claims we've produced stateside (more oil than in the last 15 years) has not only created "tens of thousands of new jobs" (in Oz) but has me paying less at the pump (somewhere over the rainbow).
That rubble of crisis hasn't been cleared away. It's been swept under the rug.
How could two parties be so far apart? John Edwards was correct: there are two Americas -- the foolish America that believes what it wants to believe in spite of the truth; and the wise America that knows what to believe because of the truth. The former grins while the economy tanks and the latter grimaces.
The president can't call for compromise and bipartisanship and then blame everything that goes wrong or doesn't happen on a party that controls only 1/2 of one third of the branches of government in Washington. When the Democrat-controlled Senate refuses to pass a budget in over 3 years, stops bills before they even get to the Senate steps, and the President refuses to acknowledge our spending addiction, take measures to reduce the deficit or balance the budget and says he'll sign bills that only contain what he wants, then the calls for bipartisanship stop before they can even begin.
We end up with a President who decrees that he will act unilaterally and extra constitutionally if the Congress doesn't do as he wishes. Obama says he doesn't want a bigger government (scowl) but prefers a "smarter" government (smile). In some kind of alternate reality, all of the spending Obama proposes in his SOTU speech -- the plans, programs, projects, initiatives, executive acts, proposed legislation and "investments" in education, energy and infrastructure -- will just magically happen, bringing smiles to everyone's faces while the rich gleefully pick up the tab. And this will somehow be smarter but not bigger government.
Biden clearly believes that 2+2=5; Boehner knows it's 4. And Obama's got a bridge in Brooklyn he's selling to the entire country.