President Obama’s State of the Union Address ran over an hour long so it is impossible to cover the entire speech. There is a lot to criticize about his speech including the inclusion of his typical leftist rhetoric about the wealthy paying their “fair share” of taxes, a mention of “climate change,” and his belief that government should spend more money that it doesn’t have.
In the beginning he said that “The Taliban’s momentum has been broken,” which is highly misleading since the Taliban aren’t necessarily any more downtrodden then they were a few years ago, as evidenced by Obama’s support for negotiating with them.
Obama fantasized a bit more about his foreign policy achievements, promoting the false narrative that “Iran is more isolated than ever before.” Which is why Russia and China, two permanent members of the UN Security Council like Iran better than the United States, apparently.
He said that “if Iran changes course and meets its obligations, it can rejoin the community of nations.” What community of nations is he talking about? There isn’t just one and Iran has its own thug club with other countries like Venezuela and the aforementioned China and Russia. Besides, when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or others like him speak at the UN and say ridiculously hateful and absurd things about the U.S. he always has an audience as only some countries’ delegates walk out in protest; many others agree with him.
He then went on to say that “our ties to the Americas are deeper,” which is funny, since just a few weeks ago Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was enjoying his “hate the U.S.A.” tour in Latin America with leftist thug dictator, Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela. Besides Venezuela, other stops along his tour included Nicaragua, Ecuador, and, of course, Cuba. This is an inconvenient fact that basically does away with the notion that Iran is isolated and that we have deep ties to Latin America. Iran is far from isolated and Latin America is a mixed bag as far as its relationship as a region with the United States. Perhaps the most absurd claim was that “Our iron-clad commitment – and I mean iron-clad — to Israel’s security has meant the closest military cooperation between our two countries in history.” Part of this commitment to Israel’s security apparently includes telling them to go back to the indefensible 1967 borders and being seemingly more hostile towards Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Yes, Obama, you have been a true champion of Israeli security; it’s hard to conceive of a more secure Israel than one that went back to its 1967 borders.
There are plenty of other parts of his speech that deserve criticism but he made some good points as well. He seemed to realize that there are exactly 50 states when he said “Each time I look at that flag, I’m reminded that our destiny is stitched together like those 50 stars and those 13 stripes,” which is an improvement considering he thought there were 59 states just a few years ago. At least he’s learning on the job. And he actually paid lip service to the state of the union, which is what the whole speech is supposed to be about: “as long as we are joined in common purpose, as long as we maintain our common resolve, our journey moves forward, and our future is hopeful, and the state of our Union will always be strong.” Well, there it is: the state of the union will always be strong. So, does that mean it is strong right now?
Since he wasn’t very clear about this, the actually state of the union can be summed up in one word: terrible. Why? Well, it’s all Bush’s fault of course. But, according to Obama “Anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, doesn’t know what they’re talking about. That’s not the message we get from leaders around the world.” He seems to be saying that America is still better off than several countries, according to the leaders of those countries, so therefore we aren’t in decline. But simply being better off than some other countries is not something America should be content with; America should be the best.
Anyway, in all seriousness, President Obama did have some good things to say about the highly relevant issue of college costs. Obama said: “At a time when Americans owe more in tuition debt than credit card debt, this Congress needs to stop the interest rates on student loans from doubling in July.” Amen. Then he said “Of course, it’s not enough for us to increase student aid. We can’t just keep subsidizing skyrocketing tuition; we’ll run out of money.” Obama acknowledging that it is possible for the government to run out of money is deserving of applause and his point about tuition is a good one. Some universities cost $50,000 per year or more in tuition, which is ridiculous. Governor Corbett and Pennsylvania Republicans should follow this bit of advice: “States also need to do their part, by making higher education a higher priority in their budgets.” That means that states should not cut over $600 million in aid to state universities while adding $600 million to the prison budgets, which is what Pennsylvania did last year. The President added that “colleges and universities have to do their part by working to keep costs down.” Take note West Chester University; this means not to waste $30 million building a grandiose recreation center that outdoes the YMCA while increasing tuition and cutting more useful programs to make ends meet. When Obama says that “Higher education can’t be a luxury – it is an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford” he is correct if he means that no intelligent, talented young person should be deprived of a college education due to lack of affordability. However, if he means that “every kid should go to college” then he is wrong because this way of thinking has packed college campuses full with young people who simply don’t belong in college. Overall, however, his message about education in general and higher education in particular is a good one and ought to be welcomed by college students, even if he is ultimately unworthy of re-election due to the abysmal job market for young adults that his policies are responsible for creating.
Bill Hanrahan is a fourth-year student majoring in political science and philosophy. He can be reached at WH750431@wcupa.edu.