If anyone remains in any doubt that the next four years will be a relentless exercise in left-wing presidential radicalism, look no further than Barack Obama’s second inaugural address. This was not a president in any mood to reach out across the political aisle, or to give words of comfort to the nearly 60 million Americans who did not vote for him last November. His address was defiant and divisive, projecting his firm commitment to seeing through his avowedly liberal agenda in the face of concerted opposition on Capitol Hill and in the 30 states which have Republican Governors.
This was a speech also firmly rooted in denial with regard to the calamitous state of America’s finances, with the national debt now standing at more than $16 trillion, with more than 128 million Americans on government programs, including a record 46 million living on food stamps. This was not an address that offered any hope to those concerned about how America is going to pay its bills or the fact that future generations of Americans will be saddled with paying off the profligate spending of today’s leaders.
Throughout his speech, President Obama paid homage to the idol of big government, calling for “collective action”, “rules to ensure competition and fair play” with regard to the free market, and new government programmes to “harness new ideas and technology to remake our government” (i.e. more government spending). He made no mention of entitlement reform, instead making a firm defense of the unaffordable status quo, “the commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security,” arguing that “these things do not sap our initiative.” There was no encouragement given to entrepreneurs and small businesses, the engine of the U.S. economy, no mention of economic freedom or limited government. There was however a heavy emphasis on government action to address climate change, a sneering attack on climate-sceptics, and a pledge to “preserve our planet,” a code word for greater regulation and higher taxes.
Barack Obama’s second inaugural address was a sharp reminder to the American people that he remains an unashamedly liberal president, committed to a deeply left-wing agenda that looks more at home in Brussels or Paris than in the land of the free. The president’s speech offered little hope for bipartisanship or compromise from the White House. The next four years will be an ideological battleground between those who wish to rein in the power of government and a presidency firmly committed to expanding it. With good reason, 58 percent of Americans are not positive about where America is headed in the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, and just 37 percent believe the country is heading in the right direction according to the RealClear Politics poll of polls. President Obama spoke the language of decline, not renewal in his inaugural address today, hardly a promising start to his second term.