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Obama’s Not “Doubling Down,” He’s Playing With a Whole New Deck

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U.S. President Obama delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington

One thing all conservatives should scrupulously avoid is giving Barack Obama credit he doesn’t deserve. Too many leading voices on the right have done that in regard to the sweeping (and utterly unattainable) agenda he cobbled together in his State of the Union Address.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), House whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), House Financial Services Chair Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), and even Fox News have all used the same misleading language to describe the Obama strategy. He’s “doubling down” on previous policies, they all say, and suggest that he’ll lose his bet because those policies have failed before.

It’s worth, however, considering the official definition of “doubling down” in the ever-popular game of Black Jack. When you double down, you hold the cards you have, double your bet, and limit yourself to just one new card. But in his utterly tone-deaf State of the Union, Obama dealt himself virtually all new cards, raising issues he and his party never even bothered to raise in the recent campaign. A mammoth tax hike of $320 billion? Which Democrat in 2014 campaigned on that sweetheart of an idea? A big new entitlement of free community college for those with C averages? An aggressive federal takeover of virtually all student loan programs, even beginning to assess yearly taxes on previously sheltered accounts parents set up for their own kids? How does that help the striving middle class?

These are new initiatives, not part of the roaring, swirling political debate that absorbed the country for most of six months in 2014. Even the president’s much-discussed executive amnesty for immigrants remained under wraps until after voting, with no explanation of how it would work or of any policy reason for the delay. He didn’t want to cost embattled Democratic Senators their seats in states like Arkansas, North Carolina, Montana, South Dakota, Kansas and Iowa, where any automatic grant of legal status remains deeply unpopular.

In other words, all of the president’s “bold” new initiatives – including a deeply ill-advised land grab of productive oil fields in Alaska, just announced – never received a healthy public debate in the rough-and-tumble of a fiercely fought political season. So President Obama in no way is “doubling down” – an attractive phrase that suggests precisely the sort of consistency and confidence, the sort of deep commitment to core principles that transcend shifting issues of the day, that the feckless Leader of the Free World so sorely lacks. Obama’s not raising his bet on just one more card- he’s asking for a whole new stacked deck with cards that he’s never even tried to deal before.

In so doing, he shows his utter contempt for the electoral process. In his briskly delivered 7,000 word, 28 page address he never mentioned the results of a fateful election just two months before in which more than 85 million citizens took the trouble to vote and to make their voices heard. His party, and Democratic ideas, received a resounding rejection – from Massachusetts to Mississippi, from Maryland to Illinois. Instead of listening, acknowledging at least something that the people he represents tried to tell him, the president seemed to suggest that they said nothing with their ballots since the overall turnout fell below 40% of those eligible.

So in one area alone he really did use a Black Jack strategy: he doubled down on reckless disregard- ignoring the voters and those conservative issues on which the public chose decisively, and preferring to re-scramble the agenda with a brand new and never vetted array of expensive new give-a-aways. The president richly deserves to lose all of these long-shot bets.


This column appeared at on January 27, 2015. 

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Comments (6)

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  1. Jim and Julie  •  Feb 9, 2015 at 1:02 am


    I’m okay with you to some extent on most of this post, however (saving space) by now you have to agree Obama has an entirely different agenda that is not (traditional) Democrat VS Republican AND his many changes are contrary to the standards that American Citizens have held for years. You repeatedly have claimed “no President wants a bad rep in history books” — really? Why should O care if he breaks our Nation and he anticipates the NEW history books will prove (to him) he was a genius)…….

    J and I are sending prayers upstairs for you. J&J

  2. Melody  •  Feb 11, 2015 at 3:51 pm

    Excellent points about this Out of Control President. I certainly hope the Senate votes to pass
    the House bill defunding his reckless amnesty executive action. The Senate should fight for
    the people who helped give them the majority. This president’s reckless disregard for what
    made America a great country is extremely disturbing to me.
    I am very sorry to read about your illness. I will keep you in my prayers.

  3. JGUY  •  Feb 16, 2015 at 10:42 pm

    The State of the Union message seemed to me to be The President’s
    mrssage to his “student” and “single mother head of household” base
    that he was trying to provide for them since “they” as a group elected
    him. What could be better than free college and free daycare….no strings
    mentioned. These presidential aspirations have the same chance as
    a snowball in hell with a Republican congress…..but he can now truthfully
    report that he presented it to the Congress and the people….great politics
    but a waste of energy in todays halls of congress.

  4. Jim Bird  •  Feb 21, 2015 at 10:25 am

    Michael, we are at DEFCON 5 here. No one is interested in a “healthy debate on the issues” anymore which seems to be an endless pablum of kicking the can down John and Mitch’s road. How can you respect Boehner and McConnell when they renege on their campaign promises 24 hours after the election! Maybe we huddled masses truly are asses who don’t understand the nuanced political speak of why Obama should be admired and respected.
    Frankly, appeasement to whatever the hell Obama is or is not doing is disgusting to Americans, unless of course we are too stupid to understand that he is well intentioned and a decent human being. We the people are fed up Mike. You seem to be telling us this is politics as usual and get over it, socialism isn’t so bad. We’ve had a good run. Don’t rock the boat. Go out and vote even though my vote, being a Californian, is nullified by illegals voting early and often every Election Day.
    Now we are on the verge of WWIII and I have six grandsons who will be getting their draft notices when they turn 18 like you and I did. Remember the good old days. There is only one reason why America is in this escalating mess and it’s called Liberalism. The cowards in the Republican leadership are to blame as well. Respectfully Michael, I just want my country to remain free without the brutality of suffocating governance run by people like Obama. Once again Mike, we are all anxiously awaiting your speedy return to the airways. God bless.

  5. MikeA  •  Mar 9, 2015 at 7:48 pm

    A comment to Mr. Bird – DEFCON 5 is actually the least severe state of military threat. Your comments often remind me of the action thirsty Marine in the movie “Aliens” (played by Bill Paxton), whose non-martial limitations produced in him a persistent need to vent an underlying apocalyptic neurosis with, shall we say, colorful language.

    “That’s great. That’s just [bleep]ing great, man! Now what are we gonna [bleep]ing do?!? We’re in some really pretty [bleep] right now, man. Game’s over man, game’s [bleep]ing over!”

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