Call it his "new foundation" speech.
President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Wednesday night not only proposed "a new foundation for economic growth" but also laid a new political foundation on which he hopes to halt the rapid downward slide in his popularity and power.
What he set forth as policy was predictably vague — financial reform to banish risk-taking and consequent economic bubbles, booms and busts, and unspecified efforts to encourage innovation.
What such buzz words usually mean when spoken by Euro-socialists like Mr. Obama is entrepreneur-choking government regulation and, even worse, bureaucrats and political operatives using taxpayer money and taxation to pick winners and losers in a marketplace rife with kickbacks and crony capitalism.
To his credit, Obama displayed common sense by calling for new nuclear power plants, offshore oil and gas drilling, and use of coal. Such things could move America light years closer to energy independence from the petro-barons of the Middle East, Nigeria, and Venezuela.
But Obama's eco-freak supporters need not worry. The nuclear plants he would accept must be of "a new generation" of technology that is "safe" and "clean." Offshore drilling will require "tough decisions," and the only coal he supports must be "clean."
Do not hold your breath waiting for Obama's leftist bureaucrats and appointed judges to find any of these options ecologically friendly enough to permit.
President Obama called for a new energy bill to fight climate change, for which he said there is "overwhelming scientific evidence." His "evidence" is now so tainted with rigged data and errors as to be entirely untrustworthy.
Obama also said he wants more trade with certain nations, notably Panama and Colombia. But Panama just elected a new leader of the political right, and American lefties despise Colombia for its successful fight against Marxist-aligned, Hugo Chavez-supported FARC revolutionaries.
Do not expect the Democratic Party to change trade policies here any time soon.
President Obama's speech evoked Bill Clinton-like triangulation. The Democratic Congress is even less popular than he is, so Obama distanced himself from his ideological comrades and positioned himself above both Democrats and Republicans, urging them to come together under his transcendent leadership.
In much of his speech Obama referred to himself not as me, myself or I, but with the royal "we."
Is the president helping congressional Democrats who face re-election this November, or is he throwing them under the bus? In recent contests his embrace of candidates has been a kiss of political death.
In making his transparent outreach to independents, that growing class of voters who recently went 2-to-1 for Republican winners in Virginia and New Jersey and 3-to-1 for now-Sen.-elect Scott Brown in Massachusetts, Mr. Obama might to some appear to be moving away from the left and towards the center as President Bill Clinton successfully did after losing a Democratic-dominated Congress in 1994.
But where Clinton adopted some Republican positions and moved to the political middle, President Obama danced a little sidestep from political left to anti-capitalist, radical progressive populism.
Republican-bashing reverberated through Obama's speech on Wednesday night. Listening to him, an ignorant person might conclude that today's economic problems were all passed on by his GOP predecessor.
Nowhere did Obama acknowledge that unemployment has increased by more than 30 percent since his anti-business administration took power.
Nowhere did he mention that Democrats dominated both houses of Congress for years before he arrived in the White House, or that key Democrats precipitated the current recession by bullying and threatening banks into making millions of unsound "ninja" loans to Democratic constituents with no income, no job, and no steady credit history.
Instead, Obama spoke of "bad behavior" on Wall Street being rewarded, and of how we all "hated" the bank bailout, "as popular as a root canal."
His speech was shot through with this kind of raw populist demonizing of bankers and businesspeople.
That same populist hate speech was on display this week in Oregon, where a massive advertising barrage persuaded roughly 53 percent of voters to pass measures 66 and 67 to impose higher taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations.
Years earlier a similar small majority of Oregon voters led the nation by enacting doctor-assisted suicide.
"With measures 66 and 67, Oregon voters have committed "self-assisted economic suicide," said longtime resident Roger Fredinburg, with whom I co-host a national weeknight radio show.
"This will be the end of the State of Oregon," he predicts, "as the people who own businesses and hire people flee the state. They just won't take this abuse anymore."
Oregon unemployment, already above 11 percent, will soon soar far higher.
So who was behind measures 66 and 67 and their advertising campaign preaching hate and envy against the rich? Answer: the public employee unions eager to save their own fat paychecks and pensions by sucking money from the private to public sector, no matter what this did to non-government workers.
Populism may not be a winning new foundation for Mr. Obama.
Lowell Ponte is co-host of NightWatch, a radio talk show that airs nationwide Monday-Friday 10 p.m. to midnight Eastern Time via gcnlive.com.
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