President Barack Obama's State of the Union address was strangely disconnected from what is actually going on both at home and abroad, writes veteran Republican strategist Karl Rove in The Wall Street Journal
The president asserted that, "The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong."
Yet overseas, the Islamic State group controls vast stretches of Iraq and Syria; Yemen's president was besieged by rebels even as Obama spoke, and Iran's quest for nuclear weapons is unchecked.
Obama's speech failed to name Islamic extremism, Rove says.
At home, Obama spoke of the U.S. economy as if it was genuinely on the rebound. Yet the median household income has fallen; 14 million more Americans are no longer in the workforce; and, unable to find full-time jobs, millions of people are working only part time.
He once promised that unemployment would drop to 5 percent yet, despite spending $1 trillion on stimulus packages, 5.6 percent of Americans were unemployed in December, writes Rove.
"It is hard to fathom why the president offered so many proposals that have zero chance of passing the Republican-run Congress," writes Rove.
Probably because he is more interested in "positioning Democrats for the 2016 presidential race" than in governing. Obama wants to be able to "blame Republicans for gridlock by offering ideas they won't pass."
The president chided Congress about civility and bipartisanship when in reality he has spent the past six years governing "in an unusually ruthless, hyper-partisan way," writes Rove.
In setting out a program he must know stands no chance of being adopted, Obama's goal may be to have "Republicans talk about his agenda" rather than focus on their own.
Rove's advice to congressional Republicans is to treat "Obama's proposals mostly with benign neglect." They need to concentrate on their own agenda, which "focuses on the middle class — one that simplifies the tax code, rolls back onerous regulations, further expands domestic energy production, restrains spending, controls the debt, increases trade and modernizes entitlements."
Even if the president vetoes the bills Congress passes, Americans will be able to see that the Republicans are working in very practical ways to get the country on the right track, Rove says.
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