In his State of the Union address last night, President Obama described the dire state of affairs he faced as he entered office a year ago. “One year ago, I took office amid two wars, an economy rocked by a severe recession, a financial system on the verge of collapse, and a government deeply in debt,” said Obama.
Conservatives, who often complain that Obama blames former President George W. Bush too much, did not appreciate Obama’s recitation of the facts. “The blaming of the past administration is pathetically unpresidential,” blogged National Review’s Kathryn Jean Lopez last night. On Fox News this morning, Brian Kilmeade asked former Bush adviser Karl Rove if it’s “good politics” to “bring up your predecessor and talk about your first year in office while looking back at his last year in office?” “No, I think it makes you look weak,” replied Rove. Watch it:
By Rove’s logic, conservative icon Ronald Reagan and his former boss George W. Bush were also “weak.” As Media Matters’ Matt Gertz noted last night, Reagan “devoted significant portions” of his 1982 State of the Union “to attacking President Carter’s administration for ‘the situation at this time last year’”:
To understand the State of the Union, we must look not only at where we are and where we’re going but where we’ve been. The situation at this time last year was truly ominous. [...]
First, we must understand what’s happening at the moment to the economy. Our current problems are not the product of the recovery program that’s only just now getting under way, as some would have you believe; they are the inheritance of decades of tax and tax, and spend and spend. [...]
The only alternative being offered to this economic program is a return to the policies that gave us a trillion-dollar debt, runaway inflation, runaway interest rates and unemployment.
Though it wasn’t technically a State of the Union address, when former President Bush first addressed a joint session of Congress in February 2001, he too cast aspersion on his predecessor’s legacy. “Last year, Government spending shot up 8 percent. That’s far more than our economy grew, far more than personal income grew, and far more than the rate of inflation,” said Bush. “We must take a different path.”