President Barack Obama delivered the annual “State of the Union” address to the Congress on Tuesday, January 28, 2014. For the text of the speech, see
The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, “President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address,” January 28, 2014
Advice for for Decoding the Speech
The advice for decoding the significance of President Barack Obama’s “State of the Union” speech on January 28, 2014 is straightforward:
Ignore the torrent of finely crafted language in which the president seeks to impress you with his knowledge of the problems of the nation and the world, what in his head he thinks should be done, and to persuade you and the nation that he is right.
What is in his head and in his words is almost if not entirely irrelevant, except to the extent it is revealed through his actions. What he is really thinking, in consequential terms, is particularly difficult to discern by merely analyzing the words he speaks.
Watch instead his actions, tonight and over the coming months and years. Watch for announcement of significant actions that he has taken or will take very shortly.
Then, watch what he does. All the rest is either rhetoric or Obamian intellectual analysis that has no meaning without actions to back up the words. If he speaks of democracy and human rights in Africa, for example, take a careful look at the budget for foreign assistance to build civil society and democratic government in the 54 nations of the continent.
Obama speaks now of attacking inequality, but when he had a chance to actually do something about it he quickly folded, agreeing to maintain the Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy who earn between $250,000 and $450,000 per year.
And watch out for hints that he will try to do what Congress won’t do, by executive decree.
The most important issue facing the nation is what the President or the people are going to do to reign in an out-of-control national security and intelligence bureaucracy which is hell-bent on building instruments of potential totalitarian control.
Here, more than anywhere else, one will need to penetrate the smoke and mirrors of Obama’s clever language, and look hard at what capabilities remain in place after whatever “reforms” he may announce are implemented.
Most important will be what actions, if any, Obama announces regarding the secrecy of legal memos and legal justifications for any secret operations–from drone strikes in Somalia to continuing massive surveillance throughout the world.
We know Obama. Watch what he does, not what he says.
The Trenchant Observer