President Obama’s State of the Union address leaves no doubt that he is an impressive speaker. He would have made a great preacher, provided of course that they would have allowed him to use a teleprompter. The teleprompter, combined with his pearly whites, his folksy (and sarcastic) humor, and his perfectly cadenced voice, make Barack Obama a formidable stage presence.

Despite the fact that he squashed the Keystone pipeline, crushed the coal industry, and unleashed EPA regulators to further decimate the energy industry, [President Obama] takes credit for $2 gas. Yeah, right.

- Raul Mas Canosa

Unfortunately, the President’s eloquence – and the facts behind them – don’t stand up to serious scrutiny. Even worse, he’s lied so long and so often, that he now seems to believe his own exaggerations and falsehoods.

Where to begin? Let’s start by scrutinizing the President’s claim that his administration has led a masterful economic recovery. The President said "We're in the middle of the longest streak of private-sector job creation in history. More than 14 million new jobs; the strongest two years of job growth since the 90s; an unemployment rate cut in half."

The Washington Post, hardly a bastion of conservative thought, has noted quite correctly that both Clinton and Reagan had much stronger job growth numbers during their terms in office. Back in September, the same newspaper quoted Wall Street Journal reporter Matt Stiles’ analysis that “the average monthly gain during this period is in the bottom half of the 17 jobs recoveries lasting 12 months or more in the past 75 years, with an average of 186,000 jobs created every month. By comparison, the periods in the Reagan and Clinton eras generated at least 240,000 private-sector jobs a month.”

The lesson here is that numbers presented in a vacuum might sound good but when placed in historical context they’re not nearly as compelling. Throughout most of the Obama administration, the U.S. economy has seen uninspiring GDP growth in the 2 percent range with month after month of see-sawing job creation numbers. Boom times? Hardly.

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The same scrutiny can be applied to Obama’s unemployment percentages. Reducing unemployment to 5.4 percent from the 10 percent peak of his administration may seem impressive but it looks a lot less positive when you consider that millions of Americans have simply given up looking for work. Their numbers don’t count when calculating the unemployment rate. The labor force participation rate is currently at 62.6 percent, the lowest it has been in almost four decades. While some of that decline is structural (i.e. baby boomers retiring), a big chunk of it is frustrated Americans who have thrown in the towel and are no longer looking for work.

Almost immediately after patting himself on the back for supposedly saving the economy, President Obama moved to address “the reason that a lot of Americans feel anxious.”  Here I was hoping he would propose a solution, or at least rally Republicans to help him restore some semblance of income security to American households.

Instead we were treated to a fatalistic lecture on how the world has changed fundamentally because technology and global integration has altered the workplace and displaced millions of jobs. Obama’s humdrum solution is more education, this time including free college tuition. Somehow, the idea of taking on more debt, or raising taxes, so that government can provide more “free stuff” just doesn’t make sense to me…especially while we are still clawing out of the recession. Call me crazy but I thought we elected leaders to solve difficult problems, not to punt and squeeze more out of already overburdened taxpayers.

Speaking of government growth, the President tried to reassure us that “The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth. Period. It’s not even close.” What he fails to mention is that the U.S. military today is a shadow of its former self, incapable of fighting more than one major conflict in the world. This is in stark contrast to our historic ability to fight multiple engagements in different geographic regions. Budget battles with Congress have led to sequestration cuts and major declines in the size and readiness of our Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. Training, equipment, manpower, and maintenance have all suffered enormously. It is a hollowed out force. The President’s lack of leadership, his inability to build consensus, is largely to blame for this deterioration.

Our slick-talking President also took credit for many things he has clearly opposed. Despite the fact that he squashed the Keystone pipeline, crushed the coal industry, and unleashed EPA regulators to further decimate the energy industry, he takes credit for $2 gas. Yeah, right.

Finally, strangely missing from the President’s speech was the subject of immigration. Absent one call for “fixing a broken immigration system” and a brief mention of DREAMers he pretty much ignored the subject. The President who promised to reform immigration, and then became the “deporter-in-chief”, ends his term with nothing more than some shaky executive actions that will likely be overturned.

I could go on and on pointing out the hypocrisy, the half-truths, the failed promises and the exaggerations foisted upon us in the President’s State of the Union. Brevity however, compels me to only highlight the most egregious.

The reality is that seven years ago President Obama swept into office with wonderful oratorical flourishes and the promise of hope and change. Those who questioned his leadership experience have been proven correct. Obama has been unable to govern effectively. Compromise has been in his vocabulary … but not in his actions. In foreign affairs he has projected weakness and stumbled badly. Radical Islamic terrorists have again killed innocent Americans at home. We are not safer than when Obama took office. The economy is better, but hardly on sound footing.

As I write this, the President has 371 days left in office. I am counting the days until he leaves.

Raúl Mas Canosa is a businessman and a frequent commentator on radio, television and digital media. The opinions expressed are strictly his own. He can be reached at rmas@mba1986.hbs.edu   

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