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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan. 31, 2014 / 30 Shevat, 5774

Obama's thin agenda: The State of the Union lacked a theme

By Michael Gerson



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Crafting a State of the Union address often raises an internal debate at the White House: When should a president dispute a negative judgment by the public, and when should he cede it and promise better?

According to some polls, about 60 percent of Americans disapprove of Obamacare. On Tuesday night, President Obama ceded nothing, maintaining that Americans are insufficiently familiar with the law’s helpful provisions and (by implication) insufficiently grateful. There was no recognition that implementation problems continue, no empathy for losers in the new system, no course correction of any kind. As a political matter, this was probably the right judgment. Even a hint of presidential doubt would remove a Jenga brick from the bottom of the Obamacare tower.

A Jan. 22 Quinnipiac University poll showed that 77 percent of voters also believe the economy is “not so good” or “poor.” Would Obama, in his big speech, disagree with them or concede their discontent? In the end, he did both.

This produced some rhetorical tensions. Separated by only a few paragraphs, Obama declared that the economy is humming — jobs created, oil produced, China bested — then described it as stagnant and stratified for many. “Average wages have barely budged,” he said, previewing the next GOP convention speech. “Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled.”

But in balancing these arguments, the president developed a more accurate account of recent economic history than have many in his party. Rather than laying blame for problems on the greedy 1 percent or the previous administration or congressional GOP saboteurs, he described the nation’s problems as primarily structural: “Over more than three decades,” he said, “even before the Great Recession hit, massive shifts in technology and global competition had eliminated a lot of good, middle-class jobs and weakened the economic foundations that families depend on. . . . The cold, hard fact is that, even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by, let alone to get ahead. And too many still aren’t working at all.”

What should be government’s response? Obama admitted a “rancorous argument” on the size and role of government in the nation but decided not to engage it. Instead, he would offer “practical proposals.” And that was the organizing theme of his speech: proposing things. Without any overarching argument, they came in a torrent of the trivial, recycled and unlikely. The few glimmers of genuine policy creativity — extending the earned-income tax credit (EITC) to childless workers, encouraging retirement starter accounts, or MyRAs, for low-income savers — were buried in an avalanche of manufacturing hubs, program reviews and strokes for Democratic constituencies.

Someone in the White House policy process fought hard enough to get the EITC and MyRA proposals included in the speech but not quite hard enough to have them drive rhetorical themes — though increasing the rewards of work and addressing asset inequality would have been rich ones.



Obama gave a hint of a theme in his varied references to hopeful action outside the federal government by corporate leaders, small-business owners, state governments and nonprofits — which almost sounded like a conservative deference to federalism and civil society. But for conservatives, actions by these groups are preferable. For Obama, they are enlisted to pressure eventual federal action, which is the primary goal. So, “Moms, get on your kids to sign up” for Obamacare. And businesses: “Do what you can to raise your employees’ wages.” Obama seemed driven to talk about civil society — not because of its essential value — but because he can’t achieve his objectives (Obamacare uptake, a minimum-wage increase) at the federal level. This is subsidiarity as the last refuge of the lame duck.

What does his fifth State of the Union say about the president? There is the natural, appropriate humility of the second term. But that adjustment has a particular poignancy in Obama’s case. A president elected to pursue an ideology — say, a new Democrat or a compassionate conservative — can downsize his domestic agenda to fit the political moment. But a president elected to transcend partisanship, heal the planet and slow the rise of the oceans has a longer fall. Obama’s appeal has always been more personal than ideological. And when that personal appeal fades, as it naturally has, there is little left to unite his agenda — leaving the disconnected set of proposals and gestures we saw Tuesday night.

Obama probably found a political message for the coming midterm elections: “Give America a raise.” But it does not give his presidency a theme or a theory.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment on Michael Gerson's column by clicking here.



Previously:



01/28/14 Obama breeding distrust of liberalism
01/24/14 Our complex president: Is his intellectual style actually good leadership?
01/21/14 The power to intimidate . . . on the Left
01/17/14 Gates hits his target
12/31/13 A dismal year in politics, for Republicans and Democrats alike
12/24/13 The war on Christians
12/17/13 The exhausted parties: What have politicians accomplished?
12/06/13 My numbered days: My cancer diagnosis gave me the clarity of mortality
11/22/13 C.S. Lewis: Rescuing desire
11/19/13 Former bridge burner starting to build them to save GOP
11/15/13 Entrepreneurs of outrage: Fear and anger sweep up policy issues
11/01/13 What Obamacare has cost Dems
10/29/13 In 6 months will this column prove prophetic?
10/22/13 Obamacare repair: It could become a crisis for modern liberalism
10/04/13 The GOP should speed Obamacare's demise. Right now, it's not
10/03/13 The tea party's revolt
09/30/13 The end of compromise?
09/17/13 A state of paralysis: Congress, Obama need to act
09/12/13 In full retreat on Syria
09/10/13 Obama misunderstands wartime leadership
09/09/13 Rallying around a gesture
08/30/13 The preacher and the politician
08/27/13 Is Obama's oft-cited best-case scenario in Syria still even possible?
08/23/13 Jordan's wary welcome
08/20/13 The hardest goodbye: A parent letting go
08/16/13 For GOP, opposition shouldn't only mean obstruction
08/13/13 Crazy, humane determination creates breakthrough for millions
08/09/13 America's bubble of complacency
07/01/11 The GOP's ideal America
03/04/11 The last doughboy and the emergence of a great nation
03/01/11 Conservatives shouldn't be so surprised by freedom
02/22/11 The progression of pain
02/18/11 The seriousness primary
02/11/11 Do Egypt's protests mean American decline?
01/27/11 No-bend Obama
01/21/11 Two good arguments for civility -- and passion -- in politics
01/11/11 Obama's staff changes give him a second chance
01/11/11 Is Arizona shooting an empty search for meaning?
01/07/11 WikiLeaks gives dangerous ammunition to a tyrant
01/04/11 Michael Vick: Symbol of the second chance
12/28/10 Social Security reform is the answer to Obama's problems --- and the nation's
12/21/10 When foreign policy realism isn't realistic
12/17/10 When it comes to politics, Obama's ego keeps getting in the way
11/26/10 Libs resort to conspiracy theories to explain Obama's problems
11/19/10 With Holder at the helm, detainee policy is a disaster
11/12/10 Blue-state budget crises spell even more trouble for Dems
10/19/10 Obama the snob
10/12/10 Seeds of victory in Afghanistan
10/05/10 Believers' remorse
10/04/10 Pound-foolish on national security
09/28/10 Babylon on the Potomac
09/27/10 Our reluctant commander in chief
09/21/10 Blue strongholds are becoming Democratic graveyards
09/17/10 For the GOP, a bittersweet brew from the Tea Party
09/15/10: Insanity's great enablers
09/13/10: The lost communicator
09/08/10: Will 2010 midterms be 1994 all over again?
09/01/10: Obama's economic wandering
08/27/10: Miracles from abroad
08/25/10: Address these issues in order to strengthen the Tea Party
08/20/10: The lost promise of Barack Obama
07/23/10: Obama's greatest nightmare
02/04/09: The Reality of Innocence
01/07/09: The Risks in Obama's Ambitions
12/31/08: Support Obama Will Need
06/13/08: Prince Charles, Organic Conservatism Icon
06/11/08: No longer a bankrupt political joke but still overshadowed
04/23/08: McCain's anger management
04/10/08: A Country for Old Men
03/06/08: Does the America Need a Hug?
03/06/08: Obama's First 100 Days
02/29/08: Words Aren't Cheap
02/22/08: He Said, They Said
02/20/08: Dying silently in Zimbabwe
02/15/08: Hillary's Unappealing Path
02/13/08: NATO's Afghan Stumbles
02/08/08: Why McCain Endures
02/06/08: One surge that led to another
02/01/08: In North Korea, Process Over Progress
01/30/08: Compassionate to the end


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