Glib and cocky as ever, Barack Obama used his State of the Union address on Tuesday night to push his sophomoric and gimmicky socialism. While the nation drowns in debt and the economy continues to teeter, Obama devotes himself to the empty symbolism of the "Buffett rule." He had the Omaha billionaire's secretary placed in a seat of honor near the First Lady.
Barack and Michelle are the quintessential champagne socialists, enjoying the trappings of power -- the First Lady donned an ostentatious royal blue designer dress that probably cost more than several months of her prop's secretarial salary -- while decrying the excesses of the rich.
The speech was immensely dull, revolving around the usual tedious laundry list of nothing proposals. It made Monday's sterile Republican presidential candidates debate look stimulating.
Obama conceives of himself as the great puppet master of the American economy, doling out "rewards" and "punishments" to the business community. He paid tribute to the widow of Steve Jobs, also strategically placed in the audience. This seemed odd. Didn't Steve Jobs regard Obama as an anti-business president? Jobs was also known for shipping jobs to Asia, owing to the left's stifling regulations. Obama, in this address, made a special point of condemning this practice, vowing to reward companies that keep jobs at home and punish companies that go global.
It is clear that Obama doesn't want companies to prosper here or abroad, unless they somehow fit into his statist schemes. The speech was full of dreary government-knows-best proposals. The great community organizer announced that community colleges under his leadership will play a pivotal role in the revival of the American economy. Community colleges can become "community career centers" that tutor Americans in new skills, he said. Obama also revealed his high hopes for wind farms and other forms of "clean energy."
He made liberal use of the word "investment" as his euphemism for new government programs. Near the beginning of the speech, he praised bailouts (he bragged at length about bailing out the American auto industry); by the end of it, he had vowed to end them.
He professed great regard for the martial virtues of America's soldiers, holding them out as an example to bickering and undisciplined politicians. Candidate Obama had said George W. Bush's wars ruined America's standing in the world. But now he says that the returning soldiers from Iraq elevated the world's "respect" for America.
Having already turned America's military over to gay rights activists, he now unleashes environmentalists on them too. One of the military's new missions, according to his State of the Union address, is to offer a helping hand in the search for "clean energy."
Obama strained hard to remind Americans that Osama bin Laden was killed on his watch and that he is passionately pro-military. He said that he wants to set up a jobs program for returning vets. He rejected the assertion that America is in decline. "America is back," he declared.
Sensing that he needed to offer a few words in support of leaner government, he quoted a line from Abraham Lincoln to the effect that government should only perform those tasks beyond the power of the people. Never mind that most of the proposals in the speech were a violation of this principle. By "shared responsibility," the jargony phrase with which he peppered the speech, he means a fatter federal government that swoops down and takes responsibility from the people.
"Spreading the wealth around," as he said to Joe the Plumber in 2008, is his organizing principle. Wealth belongs to the government automatically, under this thinking, and so any money not taken by Obama constitutes in his mind reckless government "spending." It pains him to think that millionaires are making profits off already-taxed money. He proposes the Buffett rule to correct this injustice and usher in a new era of income equality. This isn't "class warfare," he said, but "common sense," a threadbare claim the 2012 race will test.