The State of the Union

In my last post I explained the very serious problem that is the United States’ position on abortion. Unfortunately, there were a few other problems with Mr. Obama’s State of the Union address, too.

Just a few minutes into the address the President said, “It’s now up to us to choose who we want to be over the next fifteen years, and for decades to come.” I see two issues there. One, it really is not up to us. It is actually up to Someone much bigger than “us”, whether you mean any of “us” individually or the collective “us”. Mr. Obama’s comment reminds of something we have probably all heard in commencement addresses, when the speaker tells the graduates, “You can be anything you want to be. Whatever you put your mind to, you can do.” Well, not really. We hear it all the time, but deep down we all know it is just not true. There are some things that, no matter how much we might want to, just will never be. It is at our own peril that we ignore the fact that God is big and we are small, that He is omnipotent and we most definitely are not, that He knows tomorrow and we usually have a hard time figuring out today.

The other problem I see with the “up to us” statement is that we do not know who “us” is. “Us” usually refers to the collective “we.” But “we” have made it clear time after time that we do not want homosexual marriage and we want very strict limitation on abortion. The courts, however, have not seemed to care in the least what matters to “us” in those instances. If by “us” President Obama means the elected officials who were sitting in the House chamber when he delivered that speech, we should all be very afraid.

I confess I do not know what he may have been referring to, but Mr. Obama also said that “we’ve seen…our deficits cut by two-thirds.” Really? What deficits might those be, pray tell? According to the Office of Management and Budget, the U.S. national debt was $10 trillion at the end of the George W. Bush administration. It is now over $17 trillion. How might we have added $7 trillion dollars to the debt during Obama’s administration while simultaneously reducing the deficit? According to the Congressional Budget Office numbers, 2013 was the first year of the Obama administration in which the annual national debt increase was not higher than it had been in any previous administration. Even the 2013 increase was lower only than the last year of the Bush administration; it was still higher than the other seven Bush years. And while the total budget deficit did go down for three consecutive years from 2011 to 2013, the 2013 numbers were about half of the 2009 numbers, not one-third. These numbers are not difficult to find, Mr. President; why not just tell us the truth?

Mr. Obama played the clanging cymbal of the minimum wage increase during his address, too. He challenged the members of Congress to support a family on less than $15,000 a year if they are unwilling to raise the minimum wage. I have explained at length in this space before why a minimum wage increase is not the panacea those who support it seem to think it is, so I will not go into that here. Suffice it to say that the minimum wage is supposed to be exactly that–the minimum. No one should stay there indefinitely. Neither was it ever intended to provide for the support of a family.

Mr. Obama also commented that “we stand united with people around the world who’ve been targeted by terrorists, from a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris.” With all due respect, Mr. President, sending Secretary of State John Kerry to Paris with James Taylor to sing “You’ve Got a Friend” is probably not what the French people have in mind when they hear us say we “stand united” with them.

Despite all of the above, the most troubling thing about Barack Obama’s address other than his silence on the right to life was this gem: “And no challenge, no challenge, poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change. 2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record.” Really? The National Climactic Data Center does claim that 2014 was the warmest year across global land and ocean surfaces since anyone started keeping records in 1880, but there are so many ways to spin this information it is not even funny. Ignore the fact that I do not think climate change is much of a problem at all; even if it is, is it really the greatest threat to future generations? I doubt it, though I suspect ISIS appreciates being overlooked.

It’s important to know what the President has to say. It is equally important, though, to check your facts. All may not be as it seems.

The Weakest Link

On Tuesday, President Obama delivered the annual State of the Union address to Congress and the nation. As presidents (almost always) do, Obama proclaimed the state of our union to be strong. However, his address, regardless of whatever else you may think of it, also proved a prime example of the proverb about the weakest link: a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, it says. If that is true–and I think we have all seen ample evidence in our lives that it is–then the state of our union is actually quite fragile. Let me tell you why.

President Obama, as he has done repeatedly throughout his administration, championed the rights of all “people groups” in his SOTU address. The “last pillar of our leadership,” Obama said, is “the example of our values.” What do those values include, according to Mr. Obama? Respecting human dignity, speaking out against “deplporable anti-Semitism,” “rejecting offensive stereotypes of Muslims,” defending free speech and advocating for political prisoners. It also includes “comdemn[ing] the persecution of women or religious minorities or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.” And why do we do these things? “We do these things not only because they are the right thing to do but because, ultimately, they make us safer.”

Really? In many cases, I would say that’s true, but there is a glaring exception to Mr. Obama’s position.

He went on to state that, “As Americans, we have a profound commitment to justice.” For that reason, he said, it is time to shut down the terrorist prison on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Keep in mind, of course, that the detainees at Gitmo are suspected or convicted terrorists.

Several paragraphs later, President Obama stated that Americans “live the idea that we are our brother’s keeper, and our sister’s keeper.” Then, a few lines later, “[A] better politics is one where we appeal to each other’s basic decency instead of our basest fears.”

What we do not see in any of this rhetoric is any acknowledgement of the unborn. We respect human dignity, the president said, but apparently not the dignity of the unborn. We deplore anti-Semitism and reject offensive stereotypes of Muslims (as we should), but evidently we neither deplore nor reject the notion that a woman has the right to kill an unborn child in her womb. We condemn the persecution of women or religious minorities or homosexuals, but we allow and even champion the “right” of a woman to dispose of another human being if that human being’s birth or temporary occupation of a uterus is inconvenient. We are committed to justice, yet somehow that means closing a prison that houses dangerous terrorists while permitting the murder of unborn children. We are the keepers of our brothers and sisters, but evidently only after they have left the womb; until then, they’re out of luck. Our “basic decency” does not include defending the right to life.

The President’s only mention of abortion was when he said this: “We still may not agree on a woman’s right to choose, but surely, we can agree it’s a good thing that teen pregnancies and abortions are nearing all-time lows….” Of course we can agree that is a good thing! Yet the fact that those numbers are at all-time lows (if they are; I have not checked the numbers) does not, by any means, negate or excuse the fact that we still murder a million unborn children every year. According to the Guttmacher Institute’s July 2014 fact sheet on abortion, “Half of pregnancies among American women are unintended, and four in 10 of these are terminated by abortion” and “Twenty-one percent of all pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) end in abortion.” This is not okay!

Just a few paragraphs from the end of his address, President Obama said, “I want our actions to tell every child, in every neighborhood: your own life matters, and we are as committed to improving your life chances, as committed as we are to working on behalf of our own kids.” In fact, Mr. Obama is not committed to improving the life chances of children at all. He may be committed to improving the chances they have in life, and he may desire to see today’s children have wonderful opportunities during their lives, but his commitment does not begin until the child leaves the womb.

As long as abortion is legal in the United States–as long as we are willing to, as a nation, defend and embrace the “right” of a woman to kill her unborn child–the state of our union will never truly be strong. When we refuse to defend the sanctity of life, we undermine everything else we claim to stand for. The United States’ position on abortion is truly its weakest link.