As President Obama delivered his State Of The Union speech Tuesday night, one question kept creeping into my consciousness: Where is all the red meat? It was rumored that Obama was going to speak with an indignant tone and throw down the gauntlet with substantive, high-caliber changes; that’s what the White House led us to believe. The truth, however, was quite different.
In between ramblings about MyRAs and repeated calls for the same stuff he talked about last year, Obama did talk about one thing that made sense: education.
One key point he touched on, with which I wholeheartedly agree, was the vast importantce of early childhood education. Research clearly shows that early childhood educators can make a massive difference in a child’s future success.
Sweeping education reform would require the cooperation of Congress, a body with which Obama is having a particularly difficult time. The President could, however, attempt to attract better early childhood educators to government-run programs like Head Start by increasing their salaries from a current average of $41,520 in public schools. This simple act could be done with his now-famous phone and pen strategy and without Congress being on board. Just as he says it will be simple to force contractors working for the U.S. government to raise the minimum wage they pay their employees, Obama could raise the guaranteed minimums for public employees who teach young children.
Obama also spoke about job training for adults and insuring we have the right people for the right job. He has worked out partnerships with colleges and employers all over the country to help train more people for the current work environment. While it’s a noble attempt, the nation is still far from this noble goal.
Outside of the education arena, our President also called for gun control, immigration reform, and an immediate extension of the unemployment benefits after 1.6 million people lost their benefits as of January 1. While few of these things are likely to pass, Obama keeps beating the proverbial dead horse on these issues in an attempt to pander to his party and maintain a slight bit of relevance going into the 2014 election cycle.
Mr. Obama is losing steam, trust, influence, and his ability to do much in Washington these days. The Republicans can taste the blood in the water and are expecting a big win this year in the Senate. If that happens, Obama will be completely irrelevant for the remainder of his second term while the focus shifts, if it hasn’t already, to front-runner Hillary Clinton in the upcoming presidential election of 2016 that is still almost three years away but feels like tomorrow.
Obama did, however, deliver the speech with authority and conviction. It’s hard not to get caught up in the moment as the President addresses the top lawmakers and the country and eloquently and masterfully delivers a speech about the issues that plague our country. When it’s over, however, what’s left is people not knowing if they can trust anything he said anyway; current polls show Obama’s approval rating as low as it has ever been at 44% favorable and 51% unfavorable.Powered by Sidelines