January 25 2011
The speech was largely uninspired. But what I disliked most was that it was disingenuous.
The president has a wonderful way of portraying himself as a free marketer while championing more top-down, big-government spending projects - or, "investments," as we're calling them now - in transportation, infrastructure and education.
It felt like he was repeatedly pulling the wool over the American people's eyes. Right from the start he said, "None of us can predict with certainty what the next big industry will be or where the new jobs will come from;" yet, he followed this up immediately with a huge push for more investment in clean energy.
He called for a five-year freeze in discretionary spending - ambitious after calling for a three-year freeze last year, which Congress never voted on. He called for more investment in education and explained how, "In South Korea, teachers are known as ‘nation builders.'" What he left out is that in South Korea they have a market in education, which allows teachers to be compensated for their performance.
I agree with Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, that what we're really missing in Washington today is not civility, but honesty. I would have much preferred to hear some truthfulness, even if it meant the chamber descended into a nasty "brawl."