How can we “win the future,” as President Barack Obama exhorted us to do in his 2011 State of the Union address, when our top elected official remains so drearily stuck in the past? And despite the commanding role of what can only be called Sputnik nostalgia in his speech, Obama was not even channeling the distant past in his remarks.
Instead, he served up the equivalent of a microwaved reheating of the sentiments of his immediate predecessor, George W. Bush. That’s some sort of groovy, space-age technological feat, for sure, but we shouldn’t confuse left-over platitudes about cutting wasteful spending on the one hand while ramping up publicly funded “investment” on the other for a healthy meal.
With an unacknowledged debt to the long-running reality show Survivor (“Outwit, Outplay, Outlast”), Obama insisted that we must “out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world.” Which is to say, he sounded exactly like Bush 43, albeit with more open references to China and endless plugs for high-speed rail.