Hope fading

President Obama’s State of the Union address gets high marks for style but failed to inspire Americans.

January 26, 2012


Few American presidents can match the manner in which President Obama can deliver a well-written State of the Union address. He is superb!

However, Obama’s address Tuesday failed to inspire and enthuse his congressional audience or his national television audience. His strong and loyal political supporters said he had delivered a masterful message, but based on numerous reviews and critiques, the president fell short of the hopes of many.

It was the usual State of the Union speech, delivered by both Democratic and Republican presidents. A president’s inaugural address and first State of the Union addresses outline dreams and changes for the better. The speech by an incumbent as he launches his campaign for a second term, tries to pass over failures and unmet promises, blame the lack of positive results on the other party and call for new, groundbreaking legislation.

Obama’s Inaugural Address projected a new, brighter day for this nation and its people. His listeners were excited, and his call for “change” was accepted with enthusiasm and hope.

Now, three years later, Obama’s message rang hollow. He tried calling for new efforts, new programs and new goals, but it didn’t have the punch many of his supporters had hoped for. Part of the problem is that he is dealing with many unsuccessful efforts during the past three years, and viewers and listeners have reason to wonder whether he can have a better record of success if given another four years in the White House.

Many major conditions and challenges facing this country have not improved. In fact, they have become far more serious.

In the Republican response to Obama’s speech Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels pointed out that the percentage of Americans with jobs is at the lowest level in decades, one in five men of prime working age and nearly half of all people under 30 are unemployed. In three years, he said, the national debt has jumped by trillions of dollars, the federal government now spends one of every four dollars in the nation’s economy and borrows one of every three dollars it spends. The governor added, “no feature of the Obama presidency has been sadder than its constant efforts to divide us, to curry favor with some Americans by castigating others.”

It’s likely most presidential elections have been labeled as being “the most important of our generation.” Again, this is being said about the upcoming November election, but it does seem American voters will be asked to choose between two extremely differing philosophies in the 2012 election. One party calls for more government control in most every phase of our activities, and the other party believes government is meant to serve the people rather than supervise them.

The “fundamental changes in this country” Obama favors are dangerous and, if the GOP is to be successful, the person selected to challenge Obama will have to be strong, smart, articulate, visionary, honest and believable. Otherwise, with a growing number of Americans now receiving federal assistance in one way or another and counting on Obama to continue this aid, it is going to be extremely difficult for the GOP to win the race for the White House.

Four more years of the Obama administration will place this country in a perilous position.


Maddy Griffin 6 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Paul R Getto 6 years ago

"The “fundamental changes in this country” Obama favors are dangerous and, if the GOP is to be successful, the person selected to challenge Obama will have to be strong, smart, articulate, visionary, honest and believable." === Well, good luck with that, Dolph. Argument by assertion again. Exactly which 'changes' are 'dangerous?'

Paul R Getto 6 years ago

+1 I agree to a point. Obama is "Bush lite." If Romney gets the big chair, other than trying to overturn the Affordable Care Act, he will probably carry on as "Obama lite."

Flap Doodle 6 years ago

The speech as written at an 8th grade level. I guess the Mope's teleprompter skills aren't as advanced as I thought.

Cait McKnelly 6 years ago

According to the rules of speech and debate, public speakers are supposed to write to an eighth grade level. In competition, through Toastmasters and such, they can actually get dinged for not doing so. The fact that the prez made the speech understandable to the "masses" isn't a bad thing and it's a heck of a lot better than GWB speaking on a 6th grade level (and I refer as much to his maturity as his language. His hilarious "Mission Accomplished" unintentional parody of Bill Pullman being a case in point.) What's the matter, Snap? You don't like a president being understandable to large numbers of people? Setting yourself up to be part of the "intelligent elite"? Sorry, but we know a faker when we see one.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

The serious problem is that the issues the nation faces are not occurring at an 8th grade level.

Cait McKnelly 6 years ago

While I agree that the issues facing us are complex, making those issues understandable and discussing them at a level that the largest number of people can understand them is not a "bad thing". Which would rather have, Ron? A truly informed electorate or someone who only speaks to the most intelligent? Harry Truman was praised for being a "plain speaker", as was Ronald Reagan. He was actually called "the Great Communicator". There is a choice, Ron. Speak at a level that the greatest number of people can understand or speak to only part of the electorate and be accused of "double speak" and "gibberish". So, which is it?

jafs 6 years ago

How about making sure that the electorate is better educated, and able to understand ideas at greater than an 8th-grade level?

Cait McKnelly 6 years ago

That's a wonderful idea! Too bad there are people in government who would rather have an ignorant nation that can be led around by the nose.

mloburgio 6 years ago

You thought it was perfectly normal that every president in history had an untethered right to raise the debt ceiling when warranted, but when Obama asked the GOP held congress to do it, you thought it only natural that it be tied to cutting Social Security and Medicare.

You believe when George W. Bush took the national debt from $5 trillion to $11 trillion, it was necessary for him to do so to keep America safe. But when Barack Obama added to it by trying to rescue the country from a second Great Depression, he was deliberately trying to destroy America!

You believe in putting American jobs first, except when president Obama rescued 1.5 million GM and Chrysler autoworkers, because that was socialism.

pace 6 years ago

ron paul was a crazy coot before it was cool.

littlexav 6 years ago

I'm stealing this and falling in love with you, all at the same time. Brilliant.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

That is a wonderful campaign slogan. But it won't help at all unless the Republican Party finds a better candidate very quickly.

Mike Ford 6 years ago

three or four of you on here with the same negative nonsense.... wow....you're so smart......

jafs 6 years ago

So far, none of the R candidates comes close to his list of attributes necessary to win.

cowboy 6 years ago

Perhaps the Obama Health Care program did miss a major issue....free antidepressants for all republicans and Fox News viewers , free anger management , free GED and illiteracy programs.

Unreal 6 years ago

Ha-Ha!! Boy cowboy, you nailed that one. Applies to every republican I know!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

Sadly, for the 99%, four more years of "failure" by Obama will be much better than four years of "success" by a Republican president.

dlkrm 6 years ago

Just another bozo says: "Sadly, for the 99%, four more years of "failure" by Obama will be much better than four years of "success" by a Republican president."

From the editorial: "the percentage of Americans with jobs is at the lowest level in decades, one in five men of prime working age and nearly half of all people under 30 are unemployed."

So are you saying that "the 99%" are better off not working?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

I'm saying that for the 99% unemployment will go up and wages and benefits will go down faster and further than they have already under a Republican than under Obama.

Cait McKnelly 6 years ago

Interesting. Because USAToday states that the unemployment rate is the lowest it's been in three years and in 2011 over 1.6 million non-farm jobs were added to the economy. So, which is it?

Flap Doodle 6 years ago

In other "fairness" news: "How embarrassing this must be for President Obama, whose major speech theme so far this campaign season has been that every single American, no matter how rich, should pay their "fair share" of taxes. Because how unfair -- indeed, un-American -- it is for an office worker like, say, Warren Buffet's secretary to dutifully pay her taxes, while some well-to-do people with better educations and higher incomes end up paying a much smaller tax rate. Or, worse, skipping their taxes altogether. A new report just out from the Internal Revenue Service reveals that 36 of President Obama's executive office staff owe the country $833,970 in back taxes. These people working for Mr. Fair Share apparently haven't paid any share, let alone their fair share..." http://news.investors.com/Article/599002/201201260818/obama-white-house-staff-back-taxes.htm

Joe Hyde 6 years ago

I'm an American and I thought President Obama's speech was inspiring. Actually, I think it was his best State of the Union speech yet.

And though I'm disappointed in some things the president has not accomplished yet in his first term, I'll vote for his re-election in hopes his second term will be even more productive.

The man is not a redneck, and to me that counts for a lot.

Flap Doodle 6 years ago

Did you notice that it was mainly a rehash of last year's speech?

avoice 6 years ago

"The man is not a redneck, and to me that counts for a lot."

Somehow this statement reminds me of some of the superficial reasons people ("rednecks") voted for George W. Bush. Narrow-minded is narrow-minded, no matter which direction it leans.

Unreal 6 years ago

Geez, do we really have to read another typical editorial in the LJ World about how Obama has failed, bla-bla-bla? How does the most progressive city in Kansas end up with an obvious republican, conservative Editorial Board? Disappointing to say the least. At any rate, I have no doubt millions of people around this country, including myself, were very inspired by our President's speech, and heard plenty of actions that need to be taken by CONGRESS, in order to take care of the middle-class and poor families in this country. You just had to listen. Perhaps the writer of this editorial needs to go back and actually read the speech Obama gave before writing the typical republican nonsense about Obama's failure. How you can call ending the decade-long war in Iraq, actually locating Bin Laden & killing him, keeping our country from having a complete financial meltdown, getting legislation passed to keep insurance companies from being able to play god with people's lives, trying desperately to get Congress to end the tax cuts for the extreme wealthy and keep tax breaks for the middle-class & poor, and on and on, failures is beyond me. How can any of these be failures? I suppose if you're a republican that wants to see him fail, even at the expense of the middle-class & poor, then yes, he has done nothing good for the people of this country. However, those of us who ARE middle-class, or who have had a family member in Iraq for several tours, or who have had a child with cancer & had to fight with the insurance companies, or who was unemployed and needed the unemployment benefits extended, or just didn't want to see the rich pay only 15% in taxes where we pay 30%, yes, we know how much he has done for us. Democratics will always fight for the middle-class & poor long before a republican would. Perhaps this editorial writier can go write editorials for a newspaper out in Western KS. I'm sure your typical Obama-bashing nonsense would be received much better out there.

Flap Doodle 6 years ago

"How does the most progressive city in Kansas end up with an obvious republican, conservative Editorial Board?" When you own a newspaper, you can pick your own editors.

shadowlady 6 years ago

I'm not a republican, and I think obama stinks and yes I have had a nephew that has done two years of duty over there, and yes under obama. Everyone is entitled, even you, to have there own opinion, and if there are people that do not have the sentiments as you, "oh well". Seems as though when people do not agree with you about obama, it is considered obama bashing. Wow!! They are saying what they think or feel. and yes, in my opinion, I think obama is a poor President, and I really don't care what anyone else thinks of my opinion.

gudpoynt 6 years ago

It was the killing of Osama bin Laden wasn't it? That's why you think he's a poor president.

jayhawklawrence 6 years ago

If you are not wealthy and continue to vote for these right wing clowns, then you are being duped. If you are wealthy and care about social responsibility more than getting another tax break, then good for you.

Read the book, "What's the Matter With Kansas?", and it will explain in detail how the political strategy is being used to deceive Kansas voters.


This election campaign is exposing the right wing propaganda for what it is, deceptive political rhetoric.

It is amazing to watch how much support these people continue to get from the very people who are hurt by these policies.

It was inevitable that the American people have to stand up and fight back. Our country has been ravaged by these people for far too long and the problems we now face have been caused by these very same people, not by middle class and working Americans. These economic problems and foreign policy crisis were hatched in Washington and on Wall Street and it is time they participated in the healing of America.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 6 years ago

Believe only half of what you see, and none of what you hear.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

That reminds me of something I read recently:

"Think about how stupid the average person is. Then think about how half of the people are even stupider than that."

Sally Piller 6 years ago

It's so fun watching the Republicans freak out right now.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

Yup, because they haven't found anyone any better. And the next Presidential election is coming up really fast.

Better candidates are surely out there, but they are not being considered for one reason or another.

Unreal 6 years ago

Yes it is!!! And yes they are!!!

jayhawklawrence 6 years ago

As Americans begin to understand how the system has been turned against the average American, it might be very good to reflect back over our history to assess what other damage has been done.

Look at our farm policy and the amount of land now controlled by International Agriculture business. Look at how many Senators and Congressmen sat on the boards of the very industries they were supposed to oversea. Take a look at Governor Brownbacks time as Secretary of Agriculture.

Call it corruption or call it just politics. Call it anything you like, but realize that average Americans have been too trusting for too long and it might be time to take a good long look at how our government is being managed to favor the wealthy and the powerful at the expense of average Americans.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

You need to quit talking so loud because all of the average Americans are busy watching television.

weeslicket 6 years ago

you have to say oversee. otherwise, the spelling jackboots cart you off in a black mollie to the conceptgulag.

littlexav 6 years ago

The income tax has always been progressive (higher rates in higher brackets). The Bush tax cuts on the higher brackets and on capital gains were instituted when we had a surplus. The surplus was the stated reason for the cuts. No more surplus? No more special breaks. How is that NOT fair?

littlexav 6 years ago

I don't know anything about social justice. All I know is that our Constitution was designed to be amended, and that's what we did. You want consent as the basis of just laws, and that's what we have. It's America, and I'm sorry that some people can't seem to appreciate that.

deec 6 years ago

You might want to attribute this to its author, James Dorn, of the Cato Institute, written in 1996. Or are you in favor of theft of others' intellectual labor?

jafs 6 years ago

Except, of course, that passing a constitutional amendment is the correct way to overturn SC decisions, according to our system.

littlexav 6 years ago

Thank you Jafs. I don't understand what Phoenixman is saying, or to whom. Our is one of the few countries in the world founded by social contract (a la Rousseau)... Phoenixman doesn't make any sense to me (and I'm not sure how he reads my comments to be a reversal of what I said earlier).

littlexav 6 years ago

Speak for yourself, editorial board. There were some incredible lines in the speech, and Obama is at least nominally ready to compromise with Republicans to get the nation back to business.

Linda Endicott 6 years ago

But the Bush tax cuts are still in place...so why aren't all those wealthy people creating jobs NOW? Wasn't that the reason given for keeping the cuts? That it would create jobs?

When do the wealthy plan to start that?

littlexav 6 years ago

investment doesn't create jobs for anyone except wall street. except for an IPO, stocks have nothing to do with raising capital for private enterprise. secondary markets have nothing to do with job creation on main street.

Cait McKnelly 6 years ago

Which is exactly why the 99% took to the streets.

akuna 6 years ago

Eyes roll.

Obama has done a remarkable job considering the state of politics today. The best thing that can happen to our fair country is to keep as many crazy Republicans out of office as possible. Republican's have been the party of destruction for the past 3 decades. They've killed the middle class, passed huge entitlement requirements, and weakened our position in the world. Their dangerous path materialized in President Bush's last year or so of office. And now the Democrats are cleaning up their mess.

4 more years of Democratic leadership and maybe the mess of the past 30+ years can be fully cleaned up. 4 More Years!

Cait McKnelly 6 years ago

Cleaning up a mess 30 years in the making will take more than 8. Bill Clinton came close then GWB came in and wrecked our playhouse and made it ten times worse.

sourpuss 6 years ago

Since when can the President fix everything? I mean, doesn't Congress and the Supreme Court have some say in this too? Last I checked, Congress has accomplished very little. The President can only sign bills, he can't add to them, he can't write them himself... And if America simply needs a better cheerleader to make us "feel" better, then we are in worse shape than I thought. I think he's doing pretty well, considering what little Congress is doing. +1 for akuna.

Paul R Getto 6 years ago

+1 And a good point. We should remember when anyone runs for president and says "I will do ___," what it really means is "I will propose." That's all the president can do. She/he has a bully pulpit and a veto pen; that's about it.

tomatogrower 6 years ago

Taking tax breaks from companies who take jobs out of the country and giving them to those who create jobs in the US is a dangerous policy? Policing Somali pirates is dangerous? For the Seals yes, but worse would be invading the country, or continue letting them get away with it. Ok I'm game. Bring on the danger.

Nellane Laney Croan Stussie 6 years ago

Great Editorial!

In the Nixon era, while expressing my concern about the goings-on, I was advised by a friend not to worry, as our system of Government was “Designed by Geniuses, to be Run by Idiots”. While I suspect this quote was borrowed, and have been unable to identify its source, I have taken solace over the years in the expectation that our two-party democratic system will eventually cause the pendulum to swing back.

Beyond being struck with how closely the “escapades” of our elected representatives in Washington resemble a reality show, as I watch the current goings-on, I find myself again wondering - Just how “idiot-proof” is the design?

There is a long-held belief that democracies, in general, are a predictably doomed form of government.

In the year 1787, Alexander Tyler (a Scottish history professor at The University of Edinborough) used an analogy to describe "The Fall of The Athenian Republic" some 2,000 years prior:

“A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great courage; From courage to liberty; From liberty to abundance; From abundance to complacency; From complacency to apathy; From apathy to dependence; From dependence back into bondage.”

From my vantage point, Mr. Tyler’s observation has been unsettlingly predictive of the path of our own experiment in Democracy.

In my youth I studied, with gratitude and reverence, the “bondage to liberty” sequence associated with the birth of our country. I believe I have lived through the “abundance to apathy” sequence. Now, as I watch the current Administration attempt to spend its way out of a recession, push forward massive bail out and entitlement programs, and socio-engineer Government intrusion/involvement in to most aspects of our lives, I cannot help but feel that the road to “dependence” has been charted.

Bob Harvey 6 years ago

Bravo. Very, very few look beyond the next election or from history's lessons.

Richard Heckler 6 years ago

What is facism:

Introducing the Republican Job Killing Platform :

  1. TABOR is Coming by Grover Norquist and Koch Bros sells out state governments, public schools,SRS services etc etc to private industry = Grab Your Wallets! http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2005/0705rebne.html

  2. Bailing out The Reagan/Bush Savings and Loan Heist aka home loan scandal sent the economy out the window costing taxpayers many many $$ trillions (Cost taxpayers $1.4 trillion), Plus millions of jobs, loss of retirement plans and loss of medical insurance. http://rationalrevolution0.tripod.com/war/bush_family_and_the_s.htm

  3. Bailing out the Bush/Cheney Home Loan Wall Street Bank Fraud cost consumers $ trillions, millions of jobs, loss of retirement plans and loss of medical insurance. Exactly like the Reagan/Bush home loan scam. Déjà vu can we say. Yep seems to be a pattern. http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2009/0709macewan.html

  4. Bush/Cheney implied that several financial institutions instead of only 3 were at risk so why $700 billion in bail out money? One of the biggest lies perpetrated to American citizens. Where did this money go? Why were some banks forced to take bail out money? http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/10/good_billions_after_bad_one_year

  5. Tax cuts = the ENTITLEMENT program for the wealthy which do nothing to make an economy strong or produce jobs. Tax cuts are an tax increase to others in order to make up the loss in revenue = duped again. Still A Bad Idea = Bush Tax Cuts = The ENTITLEMENT program for the wealthy at the expense of the middle class = duped one more time. http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2001/0301miller.html

  6. In the end big debt and super duper bailouts were the results which does not seem to bother Republicans, as long as they are in power.

In fact, by the time the second Bush left office, the national debt had grown to $12.1 trillion:

  • Over half of that amount had been created by Bush’s tax cuts for the very wealthy.

  • Another 30% of the national debt had been created by the tax cuts for the wealthy under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

• Fully 81% of the national debt was created by just these three Republican Presidents. http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2010/0111orr.html

  1. Starting in 2003, George W. Bush destroyed the world economy by encouraging U.S. banks to make loans to those who could not afford them, through schemes such as the "American Dream Downpayment Initiative".

Also through the destruction of oversight, such as lawsuits to prevent state securities laws from being enforced on Bush's watch.

Once Bush's policies led to their inevitable result of economic collapse, the United States found itself in a situation where it had to take on debt in order to restore the economy.


  • Nixon’s Watergate

  • Reagan/Bush Iran Contra

Flap Doodle 6 years ago

How many times have you posted this dubious twaddle on this award-winning website, merrill?

deec 6 years ago

How many times have you felt it necessary to point out that Merrill posts the same thing over and over...kind of like you do?

Cait McKnelly 6 years ago

"People who dismiss the unemployed and dependent as “parasites” fail to understand economics and parasitism. A successful parasite is one that is not recognized by its host; one that can make its host work for it without appearing as a burden. Such is the ruling class in a capitalist society." — Jason Read (PhD, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern Maine)

weeslicket 6 years ago

to take part of your quote: .."the wealth created by the capitalist classes that do all the work." 1. define "classes" (as in the capitalist classes). 2. describe the "work" of these "classes". 3. now you're stuck with "weath created by" "said defined classes of capital" (4. parasites)

beatrice 6 years ago

With the headline "Hope Fading," I thought it was going to be a story about Romney, Gingrich and the GOP desires to retake the White House.

pace 6 years ago

President's Obama's speech was great. He spoke sensibly and with heart. I don't think his ideas will carry through easily, he has the big money against him, with their well funded ad campaigns, the old republican guard against him and the hysterical fox teas, all working together to defeat any plan to restore the economy, to give working families a voice. Anything to return to an already failed system. Of course, the economic failure was successful in one population. It increased money and power in the pockets of the very wealthiest. That was not by accident. It seems we might lose our democracy and be cash cows and cheap labor for the billionaires. I might be pessimistic but i when see misguided people like Simons clinging to old guard and old economic models. The debates and polls have pushed the GOPs name in the news. They make announcements that Obama won't be elected unless the economy is good, then show a poll where most people don't think the economy is good and use that as proof we wont' reelect Obama. No. I won't vote for the very people who caused the economic meltdown, to come in again. Obama is our best bet to recover, and we need to clean Congress "of the do nothings but harm" guys.

weeslicket 6 years ago

speaking as myself (weeslicket): "this writer" believes that "this editorial" was written by "yertle the turtle".

Scott Tichenor 6 years ago

Of this editorial I have this enthusiastic response to the words written by their author:


sad_lawrencian 6 years ago

Funny how a left-leaning town like Lawrence has a right-leaning newspaper.

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