What’s wrong with this cartoon?


Stuart Carlson via Go Comics

Here’s a simplistic take on President Obama’s State of the Union speech.  Carlson, the cartoonist, sympathetically depicts Obama as calm and optimistic.  Meanwhile, Republicans are shown as afraid to work on the nation’s problems.

But why should we buy Carlson’s conception of what our country’s problems are?  Serious issues, like the national debt and our values crisis, are missing from the junk pile.  And of the concerns listed in the cartoon, some are hardly worth addressing, at least on the federal level.  Gun violence has declined drastically compared to twenty and thirty years ago.  “Mental health crisis” is more apt to a mountain of national dysfunction than “guns.”

Carlson’s cartoon reinforces the myopic notion that big government activism is the way to solve national problems.  But why propose a new federal preschool initiative when the extant Head Start program has been found to be of questionable value?  Like the manufacturing hubs proposal, it’s just another reinvention of the wheel, adding to the accretion of federal programs that don’t do what they’re supposed to.

The policy proposals laid out last week were predictable.  And so has been media coverage.  A report by Rachel Rose Hartman of Yahoo does little more than relay the White House’s talking points unchallenged.  Fair enough, we can recount all the times Yahoo reporters have uncritically parroted Republican initiatives.  On one hand.

Consider also an AP fact check of Tuesday’s speech.  In contrast to his challenges of Obama’s statements, fact checker Calvin Woodward goes out of his way to thoroughly stomp on Marco Rubio’s mention of a balanced budget amendment.  Dismissing it as unserious, he conveniently forgets that such an amendment failed to pass Congress by one vote as recently as the Clinton presidency.  He beefs that federal revenues declined during the recession, but ignores that they’ve since recovered.  And he launches a lengthy apologetic as to the necessity of deficit spending at the federal level.  We can only imagine the AP giving such generous balance to a Republican president.

As Kohaleth observed, “Nothing is new under the sun.” Mr. Obama wasted the bully pulpit again. Rather than make a genuine effort to unite the nation and move it forward, he did what he knows how to do best: deploy emotional rhetoric to build political advantage for his own party.  The President remains a one trick pony.  Media and the public they serve are largely lost in the pomp of the speech.  The only paean we can honestly deliver is one that declares Obama’s speech another pale and uninspired echo of “Hope and Change.”

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About cogitating duck
I study Christian apologetics at Biola University and occasionally write on ethics, truth, science and politics.

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