Legacy at the cost of lying and deception

By all standards, yesterday’s State of the Union Address was disappointing. The President decided to play it safe, stay away from facts or new policies, and give a feel-good speech that tries to regain the public’s trust in the President and Congress. When he tried to use facts, statistics or introduce new policies, he either lied to the public by using false statistics, misled it by analyzing situations in ways that are just not true, or, in the case of “MyRA”, introduced a new program that even he seemed to not understand. This President, who just last year had a fresh, reinvigorated agenda, has lost all that passion. In last year’s State of the Union, President Obama has proposed specific legislation that he wanted to change, such as repealing the sequester cuts, health care reforms (supporting those proposed by the Simpson-Bowles Commission), or a broad infrastructure programs called Fix-It-First. He proposed plans and seemed to want to get things done. This year, however, he just listed various areas where reform is needed in his opinion, and just suggested that Congress fix it. This list included continued plans to improve the new healthcare law, immigration reform, closing loopholes in the Tax Code, or creating more gender equality. The President has said that if Congress does not act on these issues, he will, bypassing Congress to get his way.

 

Taking a close look at the issues that the President discussed, one can easily find that , as the saying says, the devil is in the details. The following discusses two of such issues, the situation in Iran and the current state of health care in America.

 

In his State of the Union, President Obama claimed that Iran is “has begun to eliminate its stockpile of higher levels of enriched uranium”. This statement is simply not true. The Iranians are not eliminating stockpiles of uranium, they are just oxidizing the nuclear material. This process, as compared to elimination, is reversible. Should the Iranians decide to get back to pursuing nuclear weapons, they can resume the nuclear program within a few months. In fact, most officials claim that Iran has just halted a program that they plan to accelerate in the near future. This leaves very serious threats that someone who has heard yesterday’s speech would think were resolved. This just shows that the United States are in a much worse position in the world than they used to, since they have less of an influence on the world. They used to negotiate on peaceful nuclear arms treaties with the Soviet Union at the peak of its power, and now the United States cannot negotiate a similar treaty with a rogue state with no major influence on the world economy.

 

After 40 minutes of his State of the Union Address, President Obama finally mentioned his healthcare law, which has been a failure thus far. He made a point to talk about the numbers of this law, mentioning the 3 million young adults who have gained healthcare through their parent’s plan, 9 million Americans who have signed up for health care, as well as zero Americans who can be dropped from health care coverage due to preexisting conditions. What the President failed to mention is that these numbers can only be estimates, and that no one really knows how many people are covered. The healthcare website does not have the function to collect the information of the applicants, and thus has no way of counting the number of applications. It also cannot send this information to the health care providers who will be covering the applicants, and any information actually sent is corrupted and encrypted in such a way that the health care providers have no way of telling who has applied for their coverage, so even if someone thinks they’ve successfully signed up for this care, there is no real way of finding out whether they are actually covered. The numbers presented by the President are the most optimistic estimates of the actual numbers, and he should have explained that, rather than mislead the public by painting a situation that is so much different than the reality of this law, all in an effort to retain what little support his only major accomplishment still has.

 

While these are only two examples of the President’s deception during yesterday’s State of the Union Address, other examples can be found and discussed about other political issues. There is a central theme that emerges with all these examples of a President misleading his constituents, and its a theme of defeat. The President feels as if he has less and less of an influence in Congress, and realizes that he cannot convince the Congressmen to pass laws that he would support. This causes a sense that the President has essentially begun to give up on his policies, as if he has no more ideas on improving the country and fixing problems facing the nation. The President reacts to this growing isolation between him and the Congress by proposing they pass small legislation that he would like to become law, laws small enough that he could enact them by executive order. All Presidents seem to encounter this problem in their last two years in office, its just that Obama seems to have run into this problem a year earlier than most of his predecessors.

 

At this point in a Presidency, the President is also starting to think about his legacy, about how his actions will be remembered by future generations. Last night, the President has tried to highlight some of his accomplishments, and make them known as the issues that he wants to be remembered for, even if he had to cover up parts of the stories to make them more favorable for his good legacy, continuing a tradition of legacy that runs modern politics.

 

Sources

“Barack Obama: Address Before a Joint Session of Congress on the State of the Union.” Barack

Obama: Address Before a Joint Session of Congress on the State of the Union. N.p., 12 Feb. 2013. Web. 28 Jan. 2014.

“Barack Obama: Address Before a Joint Session of Congress on the State of the Union.” Barack

Obama: Address Before a Joint Session of Congress on the State of the Union. N.p., 28 Jan. 2014. Web. 28 Jan. 2014.

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