Many liberal publications have gone ga-ga over the President’s SOTU speech last night. “A liberal agenda for his last term.” A progressive road map.” People, people, people. Haven’t we been through this before? Like, oh, the 2008 presidential campaign? Change. Lofty ideals. Progressive buzzwords. Changing the way Washington works. Transparency. Bring the troops home. Help for the middle class. What did we get? Drone wars. Less transparency than the Bush Administration. An administration stacked with Washington and Wall Street insiders. Capitulation. Half-hearted economic policies.
The SOTU was the classic Obama bait and switch. He presses all the liberal and progressive hot buttons in his speech, but when he gets back to the Oval Office it’s Washington business as usual — more war, candy for Wall Street and the head-smacking insistence on trying to negotiate with an opposition party fighting intellectual battles the rest of the world moved past in the nineteenth century.
Obama is no liberal. As Chomsky noted, Obama would have fallen into the category of moderate Republican not too many years ago. It is way too premature to get excited over a speech with lots of pretty liberal words. The President has given many speeches. It’s his actions that are important. We can start by looking at whom he’s appointing to fill open cabinet vacancies. It’s hardly a bunch of liberal firebrands, but old Washington war horses who have zero interest in changing the way things work in the nation’s capital.
It was a nice speech last night, but Obama’s initial actions are not a promising start to a new term.