World·Analysis

A state of the union address the president is unlikely to give

Tonight, Barack Obama will stand before a joint session of Congress and deliver his sixth state of the union address. Our Washington correspondent respectfully submits this draft for his consideration.

A lame-duck president, a Republican-controlled Congress: What's to discuss, asks Neil Macdonald

U.S. president addresses a Republican Congress tonight as a lame duck chief executive 4:07

Tonight, Barack Obama will stand before a joint session of Congress and deliver his sixth state of the union address.

I respectfully submit this draft for consideration, NMcD.


My fellow Americans,

These speeches are traditionally a time for your president to lay out his vision for the year to come.

But let's face it: I'm a lame duck, and you Republicans now control both houses of this great Congress. So this is sort of pointless.

I was, for example, going to use this speech to suggest we give ordinary Americans a bit of a tax break.

I read the report yesterday that by next year one per cent of the world's population will control more wealth than the other 99 per cent.

That book by the French economist last year, the one that so many of you didn't read, says history proves that inequality will only get worse (I know it has on my watch). So I thought it would be a good idea to tax our richest citizens a bit more, and our ordinary citizens a bit less.

And I thought maybe we could offer community college students free tuition for a couple of years, and raise the federal minimum wage.

But as I look out at this Congress, I realize I might as well yell those and any other ideas I have right into the Oval Office toilet.

I do, though, want to make this point: The state of our union is pretty good right now, especially compared to everybody else's.

Our deficit is a trillion dollars less than it was six years ago. That's almost incomprehensibly good.

Our economy is creating about a quarter of a million jobs a month. Our unemployment rate is 5.6 per cent.

That same rate is about 25 per cent in Spain. France is at about 10.5 per cent. Even those Canadians, whose prime minister made all those annoying speeches for years about how much wiser and more prudent they are, are at 6.6 per cent.

So, yeah! USA! USA!

(Pause for applause…such as may occur).

Anyway, we're good. Apparently you Republicans are even trying to take some credit for all this recovery.

Well, there's an old saying: A politician taking credit for an economic recovery is like a rooster taking credit for sunrise.

And remember how you made me wear all that economic fertilizer I inherited coming into office six years ago? I was just a big Muslim socialist, and I was disinheriting our children, and ruining the greatest system in history. Remember that?

So, my fellow roosters, as rooster-in-chief, I'm going to go ahead and claim this one.

Can I get a cockle-doodle-doo on that? Heh, heh, heh.

Wall Street

But I do have one bit of serious advice for you Republican folks as you take over Congress.

I know you think Wall Street knows best what's good for America. I know that's why you've been letting their lobbyists start to gut Dodd-Frank, our rather mild attempt at reining in the industry that nearly ruined the world back in 2008.

The opposition: Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner, left, and his Senate counterpart, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, would appear to have their own agenda for the next two years. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

I see the things you've been sneaking into the bills you send me to sign.

But let me tell you what their business model is: privatize profit, socialize loss. If we let them go back to their pump-and-dump schemes, they'll do it.

They are the one per cent, and they want to own everything, and they don't care how they get it.

And if they screw it up we'll be forced to step in and use taxpayers' money again to rescue them, the way the last Republican president did.

You want that again? That, um, socialism?

Middle East

Ah, you're not listening. So let me move on.

It turned out I was wrong last year about ISIS. Boy, was I wrong. They weren't "junior varsity" after all. They were major-league bad guys, and now we're right back into another Middle East war.

Except this time, the people we are really helping are Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian dictator, and his Hezbollah friends.

Furthermore, ISIS wouldn't even exist if we hadn't invaded Iraq on that made-up story about weapons of mass destruction. Hundreds of thousands of people would still be alive. That war was one thing I was right about.

What I'm trying to say is we just seem to keep making things worse.

It's ruining my whole self-image. I was a community organizer once. I was a left-wing do-gooder. I have a Nobel Peace Prize.

Now I'm sending money and heavy weaponry to a government in Egypt that overthrew its democratically elected predecessor and tortures and imprisons people for their religious views.

I've been completely outmanoeuvred by the Israelis. And I'm forced to cozy up with the Royal Family Saudi Arabia, whose clerics practically invented Islamic extremism.

They're prosecuting two women in a terrorism court for driving. That's their idea of terrorism. I've had to cover up an official report about their role in funding the 9/11 attacks.

And I have to pretend everything's OK.

Well, it's not. I suggest this, my fellow Americans: I suggest we just stop.

Let the Middle East sort itself out. And that means the whole Middle East.

Yes, a lot of people will die. But a lot of people are going to die there one way or the other, and at least we can stop being complicit.

We've done enough damage.

And one more thing: I know we can't prosecute any of our spies who tortured people in secret prisons and lied to Congress. It's just not realistic.

But I'm president, and here's what I can do: I can officially pardon them — the way Ford pardoned Nixon — just to make the point.

After all, I'm not running again, and that, along with the truth, sets you free.

Good night, and God bless America. We'll see you next year.

(Pause for applause…such as may occur.)

About the Author

Neil Macdonald is a former foreign correspondent and columnist for CBC News who has also worked in newspapers. He speaks English and French fluently, as well as some Arabic.

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