The Spectacle Blog

Obama in SOTU: “I Won’t Stand Still”

By on 1.28.14 | 8:24PM

After years of IRS bullying, intimidating Justice Department lawsuits, coercive new health and climate regulations, aggressive prosecution of whistleblowers, attempts to shut out unfriendly media outlets, and campaign tactics culminating in an ad that nearly accused Mitt Romney of murder, President Obama is finally done being Mr. Nice Guy. The State of the Union address will be a doozy, according to The Hill:

Obama will say he will not “stand still,” but will act on his own if he cannot work with Congress.

“What I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class,” Obama will tell the assembled members of Congress, according to excerpts of his speech provided by the White House.  

“Some require Congressional action, and I’m eager to work with all of you.  But America does not stand still – and neither will I.  So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”

So the usual nonsense about how obstructionist Republicans are impeding the president from showering the economy with water from the technocratic Fountain of Youth, with an added Jacksonian populist podium-thump. Obama teased the coming executive actions earlier today by announcing he would mandate a $10.10/hour minimum wage for all federal contractors. It’s the perfect demagogic attack on the perfect demagogic issue. Polls show broad support for raising the minimum wage, since it’s easy and the public is largely blind to its consequences. And those who would be adversely affected if the minimum wage is raised—teenagers and young adults—vote in relatively small numbers and already saddled with debt anyways. Your move, Republicans.

Of course, the GOP could point out that the initiatives the White House has passed, from the stimulus to Obamacare, have drilled the middle class. Or they could note the literally dozens of potentially job-creating bills that the House has passed and the Senate has refused to consider. Or they could warn about executive overreach:

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) warned House Republicans planned to “watch very closely” to make sure the president was “faithfully executing the laws.”

“There's a Constitution that we all take an oath to, including him. And following that Constitution is the basis for our republic. And we should not put that in jeopardy,” Boehner said.

But in a way, that misses the point. Tonight’s address isn’t about jobs or economics or even policy. It’s a high-voltage campaign speech in advance of the 2014 elections.

Small wonder Sam Alito doesn’t go anymore.

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