Bill Clinton isn't often wrong when it comes to politics, but his assertion in his 1996 State of the Union address that "the era of big government is over" was a bit premature. In light of President Obama's second inaugural address, the era of big government has just begun.
The reliably liberal columnist Dana Milbank of the Washington Post exhibited refreshing honesty when he wrote of Obama's speech, "[It] failed to rise to the moment." The president's address was more campaign rhetoric than vision. He even lowered himself to reference Mitt Romney's inelegant remark about "takers" versus makers. Obama's comment was petty and beneath the grandeur of the moment.
There were many inconsistencies. The president quoted the Declaration of Independence, which reads all are "created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life" Apparently, the president, who supports abortion, doesn't believe those rights extend to the unborn, not even those in the third trimester.
He declared again the false choice between caring for the elderly and needy and making necessary reforms in entitlement programs, but then it's not his money he's borrowing and spending, it's ours, or China's.
He spoke of America as being "one" but delivered little more than divisive rhetoric, pushing instead the left's extreme agenda on "green jobs," asserting that "global warming" is settled science, which it is not.
In response to his elevation of same-sex marriage as a civil right, Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, said, "Gay and lesbian people are already treated equally under the law. They have the same civil rights as anyone else; they have the right to live as they wish and love whom they choose. What they don't have is the right to redefine marriage for all of society. In fact, six federal courts have rejected the idea that there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court in a summary decision in 1972. Furthermore, that vast majority of states have codified the common-sense view held for thousands of years that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. The president is profoundly wrong to imply that those who have acted to protect marriage have denied anyone's rights by doing so."
The Supreme Court will soon decide.
The president said, "A decade of war is now ending." You wouldn't know it by looking at the terrorist attacks in Algeria, Mali or Benghazi. Terrorists don't think war is ending. Wars don't end with a unilateral declaration. Someone has to surrender.
There was little about individualism, only the "collective." Ayn Rand warned against collectivism in the January 1944 issue of Reader's Digest: "Collectivism means the subjugation of the individual to a group -- whether to a race, class or state does not matter. Collectivism holds that man must be chained to collective action and collective thought for the sake of what is called 'the common good.' " Is it the president's view that government, not the individual, is supreme?
It will be tough for Republicans to counter the president's apparent march toward collectivism, but it can be done if they stiffen their spines.
They might watch "American Idol" -- the TV show, not the president. On a recent broadcast, 24-year-old Curtis Finch Jr., of St. Louis, auditioned. Finch is a tutor at a charter school. Before singing, he said, "I'm a hard worker. I believe in perfecting my craft, and I believe anything is possible no matter where you're from and no matter what you've been through." He then sang a gospel song, "God is Able," and won a unanimous vote from the judges, which sent him through to the next round.
Someone in the Republican Party should call Finch and invite him to speak to Republican members of Congress. He has the right attitude. It is the supremacy of the individual, not government, that has made America the "idol" of the world.
Examiner Columnist Cal Thomas is nationally syndicated by Tribune Media.