The Rhetorical President Strikes Again

Given all that the President laid before the feet of Congress as “necessary and expedient” in his State of the Union address, you’d think he’d have spent the rest of the week engaged in the mundane business of governing.  How very quaint.

The President stuck to the prevailing model of executive leadership and set about to sell the address to the American people in key battleground states.  It won’t work though it may help boost his reelection chances in those states.

He has done this before as I noted in The Limits of the Rhetorical Presidency.  The State of the Union has long stopped being about actual governance.  It is now a feature of our permanent campaign that feeds the narrative presidents prefer: that they alone can save the American people and our society from our problems.  If only, as President Obama suggested, we’d all act more like the military and fall in line when the cause is just.  And what is just here, appropriately, defined by the White House.

This is dangerous and false: the Constitution does not permit Presidents to enact policies with a wave of a magic wand; when they inevitably fail, they further sour a public already fed up with the false hopes that continue to emanate from Washington.

About Peter Ubertaccio

Peter Ubertaccio is the Director of Joseph Martin Institute for Law & Society at Stonehill College in Easton and Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science & International Studies. His work focuses on political parties, marketing and institutions. He received his Ph.D. in Politics from Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. Professor Ubertaccio and his family live on Cape Cod where he is on the Board of Directors of the OpenCape Corporation and the Sandwich Economic Initiative Corporation.
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