Grandiose promises, straw men, and heart-wrenching oratory. In other words, it was Tuesday’s State of the Union performance.
We were entertained with camera shots of some of our leaders expressing approval with joyful countenances and camera shots of others showing displeasure with disapproving scowls.
As I reflect upon it now, this is what I think the president told us. He doesn’t like guns and neither should you. He is now going to concentrate on jobs even more than he did in ’09, ’10, ’11, and ’12. Bad stuff isn’t his fault. And sequestration would be a disaster — caused by Republicans.
By now fact-checkers have pretty well circulated most of the exaggerations and untruths found in the speech. Frankly, finding such things should not shock us. It has been written that leadership is often about “solemn and pompous lying.” That’s much harsher than I would put it, but you get the idea.
Lincoln did it. Woodrow Wilson did it. I’m sure Millard Fillmore did it. And I suspect that even that alleged truth-teller George Washington did it.
But even so, some of this stuff still grates. For instance, there was the straw man argument that because corporate big shots are making more than ever, we should raise the minimum wage. If folks want to argue that it should be raised, fine. But couldn’t we be realistic?
The money to finance a raised minimum wage will come not from rich guys or a magic genie. It will come from consumers. If a business’s costs go up, so do its prices.
A minimum wage law doesn’t make a business pay its workers more; it makes a business’s customers, if they remain its customers, pay the workers more through increased prices.
And then there was the hand-wringing over the threat of sequestration. Sequestration apparently is a new fiscal cliff, and it’s being portrayed, as was fiscal cliff No. 1, as a Republican-based attack on the middle class, the poor, the handicapped, the environment, women, children, minorities and puppies.
But would sequestration be so bad? In 2011, the idea was created by the White House. Now, though, the president wants to make it clear that he only suggested it to scare Republicans. He wants you to know that he wasn’t serious. It was meant to be an idle threat.
But maybe it should happen. Piecemeal deal making is just creating one fiscal cliff after another. FC-1 begat FC-2, which will begat FC-3, etc. It is sounding a little too Old Testament for my liking. We aren’t getting ahead of this deficit thing even though the president likes to say we are.
Remember those tax hikes on the rich that were just given up by the Republicans in order to buy a little more time? Well, that should bring in about $60 billion dollars in revenue. And Congress just passed a Hurricane Sandy relief bill that amounted to $60 billion dollars. Zap! It’s gone already.
And finally, how about that rockin’ “they deserve a vote” anti-gun “call and response” that closed the speech? It was a rousing wrap-up reminiscent of Desmoulins’s fiery tabletop call to action back in the days of the French Revolution.
It was oratorically brilliant, but it was an example of emotion in lieu of reason. And for those who want to have a serious discussion about this subject, it demonstrated why such is not going to happen.
If this gun control movement is to be about reducing violence, things like increased security at schools and “stop and frisk” laws on city streets should be big factors in the discussions. But they aren’t.
State of the Union shows are usually loaded with bull feathers. This one was no exception. It was déjà vu with a tough guy delivery. The left side of the aisle loved it. The right side, not so much.
Former Elkhart furniture store owner Richard Leib has served on planning committees in several industries. An avid auto fan, he raced in the 1972 coast-to-coast Cannonball Run. He has written on a wide range of subjects.