Yesterday, I speculated that President Obama will use his state of the union speech primarily to prepare the battle field for upcoming fights pertaining to the budget. With the sequester looming and a debt-ceiling deadline not far behind, Obama will want to re-introduce tax increases into the debt reduction debate (it had occupied the prime spot in that debate until the end of 2012). In that way, he can shed (in the public’s mind) his status as protector of big government and regain his status as the enemy of privilege.
But these speeches run long, and Obama will have plenty of other things to talk about. High on the list, almost surely, will be gun control and immigration reform — the big-ticket legislative items of the day. In the case of gun control, Obama knows Congress will not pass anything significant. So his goal will be to fire up the base while sounding as reasonable as possible to the middle.
Immigration is an altogether different matter. Obama understands that Congress is close to passing an historic measures that will tilt the political battle field in favor of left-liberalism for decades. There is little more helpful in a political battle than millions of new troops.
His goal, then, will be to keep the momentum for immigration reform going. He will do so, I expect, through naked appeals to Hispanic voters. Obama will be daring Republicans to say “no,” with the expectation that they will lack the nerve to do so.
Obama’s expectation is reasonable. The Republicans have tapped Marco Rubio to give respond to his speech, and Rubio has already said, in effect, “yes” to a path to citizenship for millions of illegal aliens.
By designating Rubio as the “rebuttal” speaker, the Republican establishment is also saying “yes.” In my view it is consenting to the suicide of conservatism. At least it’s for a good cause though — rewarding the willful defiance of U.S. law.
Tonight may be that rare instance in which it is more pleasant for me to listen to a left-wing Democrat’s state of the union speech than to the Republican response. Maybe I should listen only to Rubio’s Spanish version, which I won’t understand but likely will be easy on the ears.
UPDATE: Rand Paul will also give a response to the president’s speech. That speech might not be tough for me to take, provided that Paul, out of deference to his expected run for the presidency, doesn’t say what he really thinks.