Jacob Heilbrunn

Obama's Gauzy State of the Union

President Obama keeps returning to his theme of a reunited union. In the aftermath of the Arizona shootings, it has become a popular, if somewhat vague, political theme. Obama, in his gauzy invocation of a return to American greatness, sounds increasingly like Ronald Reagan. His 2012 campaign theme may be that it is dawn in America again.

But Reagan had a real plan--cut taxes, beef up the military, deal with the Soviet Union, stay out of foreign wars. Does Obama? So far his approach is simply to split the difference or, better yet, dodge the big issues. Social Security. Tax reform. Nary a word. Obama will shove off those issues. He wants to get reelected.

The GOP faces a potentially perilous political road in focusing on debt. Republicans could end up sounding like the new Herbert Hoovers. Obama, meanwhile, will stimulate his way to another term.

Obama was most forceful on foreign policy. Benjamin Friedman asks on this website if the GOP will go isolationist, and says no. Obama is turning out to be in almost lockstep with it. He almost sounds like George W. Bush as he vows to prevail in Afghanistan. Even as Pakistan appears to be going bloody. The wife of Pakistan's president, by the way, had to pay 100,000 pounds in VAT on the diamonds and other jewelry she recently bought in London, according to Tariq Ali in the London Review of Books.

Ah, our fItful ally Pakistan. Confronted with so much bad news, it is scarcely surprising that Obama opted to deliver sunnier message. Essentially, it was work a little harder, invest in solar power, and America can make its comeback. We shall see, and soon.