State of the Union speeches provide presidents an opportunity to lay out what they hope to accomplish in the year and years ahead. The last time around, President Obama's grand oration sketched his vision of how he wanted to reshape the country. Today, it's clear he has failed to deliver.
From the start, the president insisted 2011 would be a bipartisan year. "What comes of this moment will be determined not by whether we can sit together tonight, but whether we can work together tomorrow." The happy feelings didn't last long. By October, the campaigner in chief sunk to challenging the intelligence of people who disagree with him. At a stemwinder in Asheville, N.C., Mr. Obama insisted he had to break his jobs bill into "bite-size pieces" because Republicans "just couldn't understand the whole all at once."
Mr. Obama insisted last January that he had the smart plan for winning the future and that we had arrived at "our generation's Sputnik moment." By that, he meant his administration would invest taxpayer money in clean-energy technology to protect our planet and create countless new jobs. It turns out 2011 was not a Sputnik moment. Instead, it was Mr. Obama's Solyndra moment.
The California-based solar plant manufacturer embodied everything about the administration's green obsession. The White House steered $535 million worth of public funds into a solar-panel manufacturer with a dubious business plan. This government stimulus was supposed to "create" 4,000 jobs. By August, the firm went bankrupt, illustrating the hollow nature of government-created, artificial markets.
The only things emptier than that are the showrooms at automobile dealerships that took Mr. Obama up on his promise to "become the first country to have a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015." Government Motors predicted it would sell 10,000 Chevy Volts last year, but the public wasn't quite so keen on the idea of paying $40,000 for a fancy golf cart. Even with taxpayers chipping in up to $11,000 to reduce the sticker shock, the wealthy liberals who bought the plug-in hybrid didn't hit the target. GM ended up selling closer to 7,600 Volts, a figure that includes significant fleet sales to state and local governments. The Nissan Leaf electric car also failed to top the 10,000 mark. At this rate, Mr. Obama's goal will be achieved in the year 2069. By comparison, Ford sold 516,369 F-150 pickup trucks, Chevy sold 367,343 Silverados and Dodge sold 218,750 Rams in 2011. Perhaps Mr. Obama would do more for the economy if he promised a million new pickup trucks by 2013.
These high-profile failures don't faze ideologues on the left. Expect Tuesday's speech to contain more of the same push for bureaucratic intervention of all kinds. It would be better if the president admitted this country is flat broke. Instead of promising to do more, Mr. Obama should promise government will do less. That would create a truly memorable moment.
The Washington Times
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