January 21, 2015
Like his predecessors, President Obama echoed the same tune we all remember, “The State of the Union is strong.” Surrounded by his Republican foes and members of his own party, the President delivered the State of the Union Address in a speech that shows no sign of a President willing to succumb to aggressive opposition by a Republican controlled Congress.
Instead, Obama portrayed himself as a leader who did exactly what America elected him to do when he took office 6-years ago. Coming from a midterm election defeat and a slipping approval ratings shortly after, analysts especially within the opposition expected a lame duck leader but realizing his opportunity to set the records straight could be lost, President Obama took action with executive orders on immigration, healthcare and other economic issues that helped boost his approval rating.
In his address to Congress, Obama did not shy from reminding Americans that the “vicious” economic crisis and the two wars he inherited when he took office are over. Giving credit to his economic policies, he said the “verdict is clear” that his brand of “middle class economics” is the best for the nation and promised to use his veto power on any Republican attempt to attack his healthcare reform and crackdown on Wall street criminals.
In trying to appeal to critics of his executive actions, Obama defended his executive decision on Cuba, reminding Congress that the 50-year-old policies and sanction regime on Cuba has failed and therefore, unnecessary to continue America’s isolation of the nation and its people. On Iran, the President threatened the use of his veto power on any Congressional action to impose more sanctions on Iran that may derail ongoing discussion over the nuclear crisis.
Obama’s claim during the address on the success of his economic and foreign policies, was immediately shrugged off by Mitt Romney, who said the President lack leadership: “More intent on winning elections than on winning progress, he ignores the fact that the country has elected a Congress that favors smaller government and lower taxes,” said Romney on Facebook.
Expressing his opposition to Obama’s declaration that America’s mission in Afghanistan is over, potential GOP Presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio said that “saying wars are over isn’t enough to keep us safe.” A move on his part to discredit the President’s ability to secure the nation in the wake of growing concern over home-grown terror and threat posed by ISIS.
On ISIS however, the President maintained his position to avoid unnecessary ground confrontation with American troops, though, he asked for Congressional authorization to carry out a full-fledged attack on the terror group and its collaborators.
“We stand united with people around the world who have been targeted by terrorists, from a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris,” he said in reference to the vicious attacks on Charlie Hebdo though, he was short of mentioning the satirical newspaper by name.
“Instead of sending large ground forces overseas, we are partnering with nations from South Asia to North Africa to deny safe haven to terrorists who threaten America,” he said. These statements once again, confirmed Obama’s resolve to maintain his multilateral policy than investing American resources alone through unilateral actions.
While the economy is recovering with growth picking pace, there are still millions of Americans unemployed though, the administration claims unemployment is down by 5.6 percent, a shortfall that could stain the President’s legacy despite reaching a political milestone. Wages remain stagnant, jobs created are temporary or seasonal and have less benefits than jobs lost during the recession.
But despite the facts as stated, Obama has made the case to Americans that he is in control and so far, has delivered on his promises to restore the economy and end U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Americans are feeling the positive impact of lower gas prices at the pump, many now have health insurance they lacked before, there is no major terrorist attack here at home and no more body bags coming from foreign wars.
No doubt there are still challenges but this President has demonstrated he is not a lame duck leader, despite GOP control of Congress and predictions that he would be powerless with a Republican controlled Congress.
Perhaps, this President defended his political skills and ready the ground for future leadership within his party. It is now left for the GOP to support the remainder of his term in office or allow same political divide that so far, continues to yield disappointments.