President Obama's final State of the Union speech last night was a surreal mixture of Reagnism and Alinskyism. The former illustrated by his strong language on the greatness of America, the latter by his continued insistence on his failed Leftist ideology as the best means of organizing and administering a society. Barack Obama stood before both Houses of congress, members of the Supreme Court, and the American public and waxed eloquently about the exceptional country in which we live. It is unfortunate that he has proven by seven years of his actions and rhetoric that he does not actually believe in that exceptionalism or even understand what defines it.
Many conservatives are criticizing the president today because he downplayed the threat of Islamic terrorism, which he would not define as such. And as much as President Obama downplays the threat, some on the Right have engaged in just the opposite tact, i.e. exaggerating the threat for political gain. I do not agree with President Obama's characterization of ISIS as "a bunch of guys in the back of pick-up trucks" or "tortured souls devising plans in their basements and garages." I also do not agree with some on the Right characterizing the threat of radical Islamist terrorism as "World War III."
I have a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach having to say this, but I agree with the president that this fight in which we currently find ourselves is not an existential threat to the greatness or existence of our country. However, I am chagrined over his apparent unwillingness to engage the enemy fully and wipe them out completely. But the fact that an American is more likely to die from slipping in the bathtub and hitting their head, than they are from the result of a terrorist attack, is not exactly endemic of the end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenario that some on the Right seem intent on convincing the public that it is.
The far Left and the far Right can not be more different and at the same time more alike. For instance, the Left for many years pushed the figure of 40 million Americans living their lives without health insurance. The number in essence was true, however over half of those Americans were young and chose not to have coverage. Another substantial percentage were actually temporarily uninsured because they were between policies. And even more were the result of people who qualified for government healthcare through Medicaid, but for some reason never signed up.
On the other side of the political spectrum are those on the Right who have proffered this notion of 92-94 million unemployed Americans. It is true that of working-aged Americans there is somewhere around 90 million that are not gainfully employed. However, millions of those are early retirees that have union or other pensions. Another chunk of that 90 million figure are Americans on disability. I am not in any way saying that the employment status in this country is just Jake, but neither is it an unmitigated disaster and the worse we have seen in our history. Historical perspective is sorely missing on both sides of the political argument.
The exaggeration on both sides of the political circle have lead to many Americans resigning themselves from the political process altogether. This is extremely unfortunate. My goal, which I have been pilloried for from both sides, is to look at the un-sanitized facts to arrive at a conclusion based on the intellect, not the emotions. But politicians and political pundits both depend on energizing the emotions of the public to advance their own selfish agendas. The president's State of the Union speech, and much of the response to it from the Right, is illustrative of both sides in a tug-of-war trying to pull the American public over the line of reason to their perspective extreme narratives.