President Obama’s State of the Union address was filled with memorable rhetoric from a politician who has long proven his ability to deliver a slick speech, but much of what he said bore little resemblance to the truth. Sounding more like a candidate for office than the leader of the free world, Obama littered his address with bold statements intended to make Americans believe he had single-handedly brought us back from the brink of disaster. Unfortunately, many of those statements were categorically false, and many others were lies of omission. For a president who has become known for sneaky deception, his 2015 SOTU may go down as a collection of his worst fables.
Once upon a time, the president might have hoped to get up in front of Congress in 2015 and champion his success in bringing two Middle Eastern wars to a close. Unfortunately, an army of Islamic terrorists have made that a difficult victory to claim. In his speech, Obama asked Congress for an official authorization of force, insisting that his air strikes have succeeded in stopping the spread of ISIS.
While his decision to go to Congress is a good one, his claim about the effectiveness of air strikes is dubious at best. Thousands of ISIS militants have been killed by the strikes, but experts say the terrorists are replenishing their numbers at a rate exceeding their losses.
One of the most controversial aspects of Obama’s foreign policy has been the excessive use of drone strikes against terrorists. Obama claimed on Tuesday that his administration had “worked to make sure our use of new technology like drones is properly constrained.” That’s the kind of statement that defies fact-checking, but the numbers certainly tell a different story. According to independent analysis, Obama has ordered more than nine times as many drone strikes as George W. Bush. At least 150 Pakistani civilians have been killed in the attacks.
Addressing the topic foremost in the minds of most American families, the president fudged the numbers quite a bit when crowing about his administration’s economic successes. He claimed that “our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999,” which can only be termed a lie. At best, the third quarter of 2014 represents the biggest growth in gross domestic product since 2003, and that’s only using one potential measuring stick. As for jobs, Obama’s declaration ignores better job growth from as recently as 2010. It also predictably ignores a net loss in government employment and a labor force participation rate that the administration likes to pretend doesn’t exist.
Paid Sick Leave
In delivering his populist speech, Obama spent a lot of time proposing policies he thinks will play well in the middle class. One such policy is that of mandatory sick leave, which Obama proposed by shaming America’s status in the world. Insisting that the United States was “the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave,” the president ignored two major countries – Canada and Japan – that don’t provide the kind of short-term illness pay he is advocating.
Obama claimed that “teen pregnancies and abortions are nearing all-time lows,” and there is no arguing the veracity of that statement. On the other hand, it’s insincere for him to take credit for such a decline, seeing as how the numbers have been trending that way since long before he took office. America’s teen pregnancy rate is still shameful when compared to other Western countries like the United Kingdom, a fact the president conveniently ignored.
President Obama told the nation that the state of the union in 2015 was “strong,” but his address made it clearer than ever that he is willing to stretch the truth to make his case. And it should embolden conservatives to find a candidate in 2016 who will restore honor to the nation’s highest office.