Toward the end of his State of the Union speech, President Barack Obama observed that Washington politicians should learn from the example of the U.S. military: “When you’re marching into battle, you look out for the person next to you, or the mission fails.”
Obama recalled the successful Navy SEAL mission that, under his watch, took out Obama bin Laden and observed, “The mission only succeeded because every member of that unit trusted each other — because you can’t charge up those stairs, into darkness and danger, unless you know that there’s someone behind you, watching your back.”
At first blush, it seemed like a stirring call to action. But when you look at the speech as a whole — and in context — it was a sad admission. Obama constantly carps about his lack of support from the Republican-led House. I think the president has decided that he cannot succeed in the face of political opposition. So he is not charging up those stairs.
Unless Washington walks in lock step behind Obama, he’s not going to try to get anything done.
Consider the White House decision on the Keystone XL pipeline. Last week, the administration announced that the president denied the project because of “a rushed and arbitrary deadline” of Feb. 21 embedded in a two-month extension of the 2011 payroll tax holiday. “I’m disappointed that Republicans in Congress forced this decision,” the president lamented.
Obama also lauded the military toward the beginning of his address. “They focus on the mission at hand. They work together,” he noted. “Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example.”