The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


January 29, 2014

Geoff Caldwell, columnist: Obama could learn a lot from first George

JOPLIN, Mo. — As I write this column, the 44th president of the United States has yet to deliver his sixth State of the Union address.  

While the exact text of the address is not known, it is a certainty that there will be much talk of fairness, opportunity, hard work, education and income inequality. There will also be one thing glaringly missing: honesty.

The congressional inaction President Barack Obama so rails against is as much the fault of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who is running his chamber as a private fiefdom. Except for his ramming through the historic filibuster blow-up, Reid has kept bill after bill from ever seeing a vote on the Senate floor.

The income inequality the president now says is the critical issue of our day has grown more under his own policies than the predecessor he still attempts to blame for one self-inflicted failure after another.

While the president’s latest executive action, raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour for new federal contractors, may sound good, the action just further increases the cost of government services to the very taxpayers the president claims he wants to help.  

For all the rhetoric of wanting job creation, the one thing that could immediately create thousands of good-paying, quality construction jobs and bring in millions in additional tax revenue to federal, state and local coffers, the Keystone XL pipeline, still sits collecting dust at the request of the president’s left-wing base.

We’ve harnessed the atom. We’ve sent men to the moon and back. Our scientists today receive regular updates from a robot on Mars. But we still find ourselves helpless when it comes to getting this president’s rhetoric to match reality.

And the reality today is that Obama’s truth is catching up to him.  

The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll reveals that 63 percent of Americans do not trust Obama to make the right decisions for the country, and no matter which poll is used, the larger number in his approval/disapproval ratings is on the disapproval side.

America would have fared far better Tuesday if instead of rehashing the same divisive themes, the president incorporated the tone of the first State of the Union.

George Washington opened simply with: “Fellow citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives: I embrace with great satisfaction the opportunity which now presents itself of congratulating you on the present favorable prospects of our public affairs.”

He encouraged Congress to take up the issue education and closed with a humble: “The welfare of our country is the great object to which our cares and efforts ought to be directed, and I shall derive great satisfaction from a cooperation with you in the pleasing though arduous task of insuring to our fellow citizens the blessings which they have a right to expect from a free, efficient, and equal government.”

While much has changed since Washington’s time, what makes a great president has not. Honesty, humility and a respect for the Constitution and its checks on presidential power are still the traits that transcend party and stand true to time.

Obama is quite fond of quipping: “The American people deserve better.” That is certainly true, but until he speaks those words to the man in his mirror, a better state of the union is a long way off.

Geoff Caldwell writes on national and international affairs. He lives in Joplin. Contact him at

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