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OUR POINTLESS PLODDING PERFUNCTORY PICAYUNE PRESIDENT

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President Barack Hussein Obama spoke for 65 minutes Tuesday (1/28) night, but didn’t say much.  And hardly anyone in the country paid any attention.  Did you?

State of the Union addresses typically are laundry lists of a president’s alleged accomplishments, and of his legislative goals for the coming year.

It’s difficult for even the most gifted speechwriters to turn laundry lists into spellbinding oratory.  But this was "the most plodding, enervated and pointless national address of his presidency," said John Podhoretz in the New York Post.  Maybe presidents should stop delivering the SOTU in person, mused Todd Purdum in the liberal Webzine Politico.

Mr. Obama’s laundry lists Tuesday had a familiar ring.  All his proposals were cribbed from the 2013 State of the Union, noted Jonathan Tobin of Commentary magazine.

They were "picayune —  high-tech hubs, broadband access for kids, the minimum wage," said Rich Lowry of National Review.

"Is that all there is?" asked Ron Fournier of the National Journal. 

"Gone is the lyricism for which liberals swooned in 2008 and to a lesser extent in 2012," said Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin. "In its place are a list of half-measures and forced anecdotes about Obamacare."

The president touched on liberal hot buttons such as gun control and income inequality, but his touch was perfunctory.  This was the most startling passage in the SOTU:

"Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled. The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by, let alone to get ahead. And too many still aren’t working at all."

The president spoke no truer words all night.  You think he took responsibility for them?  In your dreams.

The percentage of Americans living in poverty is higher than it was in 1966, the year after the war on poverty began.  Eighty percent more live in abject poverty (incomes of 50 percent of the poverty level, or less) than when the Census Bureau began keeping this statistic in 1975.

Median household income, adjusted for inflation, fell 4.3 percent between 2009 and 2012.

The unemployment rate has been higher during this presidency than in any other since the Great Depression.  If the labor force participation rate were the same now as it was in January, 2009, the unemployment rate would be nearly 11 percent.

Acknowledging this amounts to "self incrimination," said former Bush aide Peter Wehner, was "a stunning and inexplicably stupid admission of his own failure," said Andrew Malcolm of Investors Business Daily.

Mr. Obama slathered lipstick on the pig, acting as if someone else has been president for the last five years, making enough spurious claims about "recovery" and Obamacare to keep fact checkers working overtime.

Mr. Obama went "small ball" and softened his rhetoric because he recognizes the grandiose initiatives that warm the hearts of liberals are unpopular, said Noah Rothman of Mediaite.

If that’s so, the light dawned in the White House very recently.

 "The entire speech seemed like a cut and paste of old State of the Union speeches with a late rewrite, as if the White House figured out that ‘opportunity; (the GOP term) polls better than ‘inequality (the base’s favorite)," Ms. Rubin said.

After shrinking during the presidency of George W. Bush, income inequality has increased on Mr. Obama’s watch. Only four percent of respondents in a Gallup poll this month think it’s the most important problem; only 13 percent in a Fox News poll think the government should do something about it.  So soft pedaling the "income inequality shtick" was prudent.

But his small ball, recycled initiatives — he even plagiarized lines from Mr. Bush’s 2007 SOTU, said former Bush speechwriter Mark Thiessen — are an implicit admission of failure.  They’ll do next to nothing to alleviate the hardship that’s been caused, in large part, by his policies.  They may make things worse.

Americans understand this. "Do you approve of the policies President Obama presented in his State of the Union speech?" asked the San Diego Union Tribune in an online poll.  Seventy five percent of respondents said no.

The reaction to the SOTU of an unaffiliated voter in Colorado illustrates why rhetoric and gimmicks won’t stop the president’s slide into political irrelevance.

"He was talking about me but has no ability to help me," Scott Valenti told the AP.  "I need a job now."

Jack Kelly is a former Marine and Green Beret and a former deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan administration. He is national security writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.