Not that he will, mind you.
The countdown is on to President Barack Obama‘s fifth State of the Union address next Tuesday. The White House is still finalizing the policy proposals the address will include, following weeks of soliciting ideas. Look for income inequality, energy, climate change, college affordability and early childhood education as highlights.
But the State of the Union address is about more than just the speech. For a sitting president, it’s essentially a fresh start. And, more than any time in his presidency, Mr. Obama needs one of those. The year 2013 was a mostly empty year, with little to no movement on the White House’s legislative agenda (The president has rushed in recent weeks to make good on promises from last year’s State of the Union address). The year was capped by a botched rollout of Mr. Obama’s signature health care law, a self-inflicted wound that handed Republicans a political cudgel.
And he’s got just three years left.
First, let me tell you what the President is going to do – well, OK, it’s what the WSJ thinks that the President is going to do, but I agree with them:
- Kitchen-sink the State of the Union with a bunch of stuff that sounded good at the time. Because no President in the history of ever has ever tried that gambit*.
- Have “a conversation with the American people.” Oddly enough, this will probably not be a conversation about how the American people don’t like Obamacare, don’t like third-trimester abortions**, and do like cheaper gas prices.
- Fall back on Executive Orders (read, essentially, “monarchical decrees”) to try to get things done.
That’s what Barack Obama’s going to do, and it will – legislatively speaking – serve him about as well as one would expect. Which is to say, not at all. He gets a bump from the SotU. Huzzah. It’ll be gone in a week. Conversations with the American people? The only one that Barack Obama’s ever been able to sell to the populace is Please elect me President – and that ship has sailed. As for Executive Orders… sure, go ahead, Mr. President. I fairly itch to help get elect Republicans elected to the Senate in states like Oregon and New Hampshire, and giving me this kind of agitprop would be marvelous.
PS: Oh, I almost forgot! How Barack Obama can actually avoid a lost year in 2014. It’s pretty simple, really. Find something that House Republicans AND conservatives really, really want***. Offer it to them. Tell Harry Reid to play ball. Pass that legislation. Then ask for something that Barack Obama wants. Repeat as necessary.
We call this arcane art pol-i-tics. It’s the latest thing.
*For future historians: yes, that was sarcasm.
**And, increasingly, second-trimester ones.
***Which is to say, something that will hurt the Left to give up. Conscience exemptions with teeth for Obamacare. School choice. Tort reform. Keystone. Expanded domestic drilling.