Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution requires that the president “shall from time to time give to Congress information of the state of Union.” Like everything in the Constitution, a modest thing has morphed into a monstrosity.
A “Stalinesque extravaganza” that ought to offend “anyone of a republican (small ‘r’) sensibility” is how National Review’s John Derbyshire has described the annual State of the Union address. “American politics frequently throws up disgusting spectacles. It throws up one most years in January: the State of the Union speech,” writes Derbyshire in “We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism,” in which John (he’s a friend) goes on to detail how “the great man” is announced, how he makes an entrance; the way “the legislators jostle to catch his eye” and receive his favor. (This year, the most repulsive among the representatives staked out aisle seats for themselves, starting early in the morning.)
“On the podium at last, the president offers up preposterously grandiose assurances of protection, provision, and moral guidance from his government, these declarations of benevolent omnipotence punctuated by standing ovations and cheers from legislators” (p. 45). The president of the USA is now “pontiff, in touch with Divinity, to be addressed like the Almighty.”
The razzmatazz includes a display of “Lenny Skutniks” in the royal box. These are “model citizens chosen in order to represent some quality the president will call on us to admire and emulate.” Last year it was the family of the girl who was murdered by the Tucson shooter. This year’s “Lenny Skutnik” was Debbie Bosanek, Warren Buffett’s secretary. Bosanek is supposed to embody the Barf(fett) Rule, described by the Divine One thus: “If you make more than a million dollars a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes.”
“We Are Doomed” deconstructs this monarchical, contrived tradition against the backdrop of the steady inflation of the presidential office, and the trend “away from ‘prose’ to ‘poetry’; away from substantive argument to “hot air.” In Obama’s simplistic scheme of things—as measured by the Flesch-Kincaid readability test, “for the third straight Address, the President’s speech was written at an eighth-grade level”—to recreate the glory of America, it is essential to reinvent the state. Since Obama has no understanding of how the economy works and why it collapsed, he honestly thinks that centrally planned political projects are every bit as productive as profit-driven investments of private property.
Ever the source of deafening demagoguery, the president promised pay dirt to businesses that heeded his call to greatness. Should a company “relocate to a community that was hit hard when a factory left town,” the president will plunder (private property), print (funny-money), and beg (borrow) in order to help these friends-in-fascism to “finance a new plant, equipment, or train for new workers.”
In the spirit of brute-force statism, the POTUS also promised a Trade Enforcement Unit to police “unfair trading practices,” and a “Financial Crimes Unit to “crack down on large-scale fraud.” And he, BHO, will corral corporations into “model partnerships” with community colleges, while simultaneously redesigning the curricula and websites of said colleges.
Il Duce’s next derring-do? Send him the bill, and Obama will even instruct the provinces to incarcerate local kids in high school “until they graduate or turn 18.”
To keep the student-loan bubble afloat, America’s potentate wants to mandate more loans at fixed prices, as well as expand federally financed research and development. Nowhere is it authorized by the Constitution, but—don’t you know it?—without “federally financed labs and universities” and “public research dollars,” the Internet and assorted “technologies to extract natural gas out of shale rock” would never have come about.
Having used the military to great political effect, Obama now intends to deploy the Department of Defense, no less, in the “clean energy business.” In Obama’s very elementary thinking—eighth-grade elementary—the DOD is bound to do a bang-up job.
From financial aid (for foreign students) to an affirmative-action placement in Harvard Law School, Barry Soetoro is a Frankenstein of the state’s creation. If not for government, Obama would have never managed to write himself into history. As a product of the state, Barry Soetoro sees it as the source of all possibilities.
And so the president forges ahead with plans to grow the Dead Zone of government.