Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Local News

February 5, 2014

The Muzak State of the Union

The meaning of words still matter beyond how they sound.

It’s easy to forget that listening to President Barack Obama sometimes, like during his recent State of the Unionspeech.

While watching it I kept thinking of friends’ language poetry class in college, where the point was to string words together in a pleasing manner purposely disconnected from meaning — in order to create a new meaning.

Those poems baffled me then, just as President Obama’s speech did the other night, because reality is so different than the one he talked about and the self-contradictions overflowed. For example:

He wants a country that continues to put its “collective shoulder to the wheel of progress.” And he told Congress, “I’m eager to work with all of you.” But if that doesn’t work out, he said, “Wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Apparently too impatient to even try the togetherness strategy he revered as America’s historic model, he vowed in coming weeks to sign an executive order raising the federal minimum wage on new federal contracts.

At another point he praised America’s energy boom and how there is “more oil produced at home than we buy from the rest of the world — the first time that’s happened in nearly 20 years.”

Listening to him would have made one think that this is something he personally championed, but the increase is no thanks to him. During President Obama’s tenure, oil and gas exploration on federal land has fallen, expanding instead on state and private land. And then there is the Keystone XL pipeline project stalled by his administration. It would connect Alberta’s tar sands with refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast via a nearly 1,200 mile pipeline and help to reduce dependence on oil imports from unfriendly nations.

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