Yesterday, President Barack Obama delivered his inaugural address, symbolically beginning the start of his second term in office (he was actually sworn in on Sunday in a private ceremony, per constitutional requirements).
The ceremony was filled with the usual pomp and celebration that we’ve come to know with presidential inaugurations. Hundreds of thousands descended on the Mall in Washington to watch Obama take his oath and listen to his second inaugural address. Many stuck around to watch the inaugural parade, which went on into the evening.
The celebration, as Doug Mataconis explains, “places far too much of an air of monarchism around the Presidency.” Seeing the lengths we take to celebrate one branch of our government — one that is supposed to have only as much power as the legislative and judicial branches — is ridiculous; not to mention incredibly costly. But I digress.
For all of the celebrating that took place in Washington yesterday, President Obama’s inaugural address left much to be desired.
It was a well-delivered speech, but there wasn’t much there on substance. While he talked about the unifying, there was nothing in the speech that came even close to hinting that Obama is ready to work with Republicans in Congress. He couldn’t have delivered that message any clearer.
President Obama has presided over four consecutive $1+ trillion budget deficits. Unfortunately, he chose not to address this other than a passing reference. And though barely paid attention to the deficit, Obama was more outspoken on entitlements — programs that are exacerbating our fiscal problems — making it clear that he’s not interested in compromise.
Instead, President Obama delivered a speech filled with references to themes that appeal to his base, such as pushing for action on gun control, climate change, and income inequality.
Obama ran and won his last campaign for public office, and yet he’s still acting as if he’s on the campaign trail. This is where Obama is making a strategic error. Sure, he won re-election and his numbers have somewhat improved, but the White House may be repeating history.
It’s almost as if Obama and his advisers have forgotten that Republicans managed to take 63 seats during the 2010 mid-term because of the unpopularity of parts of his agenda, including ObamaCare. If the White House tries to force through a leftist agenda — pushing control and climate change legislation, among other issues — they could be looking at a similar defeat in 2014.
But in order to be successful at the ballot box, Republicans have to offer an agenda that is consistent with their limited-government rhetoric. They have to present bold, clear ideas that contrast with those coming from the White House. If they can do that, they will be able to beat back this horrible, leftist second term outlined by President Obama.