Here’s what has to be understood. It’s all about him.
A State of the Union speech normally is about relating a president’s public policies to conditions in the country. An Obama State of the Union speech is about one thing: the Obama project.
It would be unfair to say that everything and everyone else in a complex world are irrelevant. But let’s be clear about the priorities: Congress, the Cabinet of courtiers, the press, the people and indeed the national problems described in that State of the Union speech—it’s all brick and mortar in the future Obama monument.
That we are all just riding in Barack Obama’s sidecar should have been obvious from day one. His 2008 Denver acceptance speech enveloped nearly everything. The vast, sweeping goals he then laid out in January 2009 are virtually the same ones he described Tuesday night—the climate cleansed, education for all, social justice achieved and the drowning middle-class saved.
Commentary from right to left after the speech noted the mismatch between its goals and money available in any conceivable federal budget. So why is he doing this? More to the point, what have we gotten ourselves into with this president?
Well, it’s big. Mr. Obama by his own statements has made clear that he’s at the center of something larger than the mere here and now. [Do I need to get Freudian here? Big indeed. - Aggie]
In a 2011 CBS interview he said, “I would put our legislative and foreign policy accomplishments in our first two years against any president—with the possible exceptions of Johnson, FDR and Lincoln, just in terms of what we’ve gotten done in modern history.”
On another occasion: “Around the world, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, what they did was hard. It takes time. It takes more than a single term.”
Again in 2011: “And now that King has his own memorial on the Mall I think that we forget when he was alive there was nobody who was more vilified, nobody who was more controversial, nobody who was more despairing at times.”
An unprompted remark at a fundraiser with NBA stars last year: “It is very rare I come to an event where I’m like the fifth or sixth most interesting person. Usually the folks want to take a picture with me, sit next to me, talk to me. That has not been the case at this event and I completely understand.”
Johnson, FDR, Lincoln, Gandhi, Mandela, Martin and Michael. What the rest of us do is bear witness.
People who aren’t swooning over the president like an eleven year old at a Beatles concert in the early ’60s, understand exactly what Henninger means. The swooners think the rest of us are haters.