State of Union is likely to be disliked by many

A year in, it appears that President Obama is learning that this executive branch stuff is tricky.

It’s no secret that for a year the political right in the United States has been chafing and that it took great glee in capturing the Senate seat held for 47 years by Obama ally Ted Kennedy.

If that wasn’t enough, though, President Obama now is taking heat from the side of the political spectrum with which he’s more comfortable.

Liberal Democrats are irritated that health care legislation is in doubt a year into the Obama presidency, Wall Street has yet to be brought to heel and the island prison for terrorists, Guantanamo Bay, remains open. It was supposed to be closed before Obama completed his first year.

Democrats also are openly challenging the president’s plan to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed in New York City on charges related to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, joining a chorus of Republican opposition.

President Obama has tried to set the stage for tonight’s State of the Union address by declaring a budget freeze, a seeming move to the right aimed at blunting critics who say he’s a big spender.

It’s unlikely to work.

The president’s budget freeze would affect budget sectors amounting to $477 billion and it would go into effect in 2011, not immediately.

This year’s federal budget is about $3.5 trillion, so the president is talking about less than 1 percent of the budget.

A year into this presidency, it’s become a parlor game: How can the president appear to be taking action without inviting actual risk?

President Obama needs to stake out a position, defend it and live with the consequences.

That’s what chief executives do.

A presidency of half-measures will please no one, advance no agenda and leave both sides of the political aisle, to say nothing of the rest of the country, confused and uncertain about the chief executive’s precise course.


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