The State of the Union is Frustrating
Political Advocacy Tracker is a roundup of what Christian activist organizations have been talking about over the last week.
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Conservative advocacy groups criticized President Obama's State of the Union address for shirking responsibility and placing blame for the country's current situation on former President Bush.
Obama's speech was "one of the worst State of the Union addresses in modern times," said former Bush aide Peter Wehner, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
"The speech was defensive and petulant," Wehner wrote. "What was on display last night was a man of unsurpassed self-righteousness engaged in constant self-justification."
Tasha Easterling of the American Family Association and Janice Crouse, senior fellow at the Beverly LaHaye Institute, wrote that Obama's speech shifted blame to the previous President rather than taking responsibility, and contained few concrete goals for the future.
Crouse argued that the speech was unbelievable from a woman's perspective.
"Most women listen carefully when a man dishes out flowery promises," she said. "Most have learned from bitter experience not to fall for vague promises. Instead, they look for the particulars, and most importantly, they look at a man's actions."
Pat Robertson and Andrea Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition agreed that the President's words were empty.
"What the President said is just more of the same. It's just a lot of talk,"Robertson said on Thursday's 700 Club. "He was young and inexperienced and it shows."
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council was particularly concerned with Obama's call for an increase in the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit and for the end of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, calling them moves "to socialize child care, sexualize the military, and penalize married couples through a government takeover of the U.S. health care system."
Connie Mackey of Family Research Council Action said there was little the President could have said to make up for a year of efforts "to shove socialism down the collective American throat all in his first year of his presidency." Mackey found the speech unnerving: "He never fails to send a shiver down my back with his boldfaced ability to stretch the truth, shall we say? Where was Joe Wilson when we needed him this year?"
Moving Forward on Health Care
Not all advocacy groups took issue with the State of the Union, though. Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, agreed with the President's focus on job creation and called for a continued push for health care reform.
Wallis, along with several other evangelicals, even signed a Faith in Public Life letter asking the President to press forward with health care reform. Other signatories included author and speaker Tony Campolo, pastor Joel Hunter, pastor Brian McLaren, and Ron Sider, president of Evangelicals for Social Action.
"Lawmakers are closer than ever before to passing this critically needed legislation. Letting this life-line lapse for so many Americans now would be a failure of historic proportions," the letter reads. "We will keep focused on helping the vulnerable until this job is done; we will support you and all our political leaders who will finish what you have started."
Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice strongly disagreed with the call for a health care emphasis. He said that the President ignored the fact that most Americans disapprove of the current bill; they want reform, but with minimal government involvement.