We’ve talked a lot about what Barack Obama’s State of the Union says about him and his fellow Democrats.  What does it say about … the state of the union itself?  First, Liz Peek answers that question by contrasting the approaches of Obama and Marco Rubio in terms of trust in the individual:

Barack Obama and Marco Rubio spoke to the nation this week – men whose lives have followed similarly brilliant paths but whose politics have been pickled in very different brines.

The juxtaposition of President Obama’s vision for the United States with that of Florida Senator Marco Rubio captures neatly the divide in our country. Obama, year after year, trots out top-down fixes for our nation’s problems. He wants the government to spearhead innovation, decide what employers will pay, reapportion healthcare spending, change the climate, divert investment into renewable energy, remake autos, override mortgage lending standards, overhaul college loans and on and on. He infantilizes the electorate.  Rubio champions the strength of the individual instead of the collective. He values the freedom to work hard and pursue one’s dreams as the bedrock of growth and success. …

Rubio grew up listening to his polio-stricken grandfather extol the virtues and values of the United States. Rubio recalls that like so many proud immigrants, the old man impressed upon his grandson that “there was no limit to how far I could go, because I was an American.” While Obama’s upbringing causes him to focus on America’s “darker periods,” Rubio’s relationship with his native land is celebratory. Early in his presidency, Mr. Obama declines to proclaim America’s exceptionalism while Rubio shouts it from the rooftops.

These are not insignificant differences; they color how these men want to govern. Obama claims the country has failed some communities, and he means to fix that. He has embraced policies like Obamacare, loosening welfare requirements and extending unemployment, possibly endangering our fiscal future. At the GOP convention last fall, Rubio describes these as “ideas that threaten to make America more like the rest of the world, instead of helping the world become more like America.”

Michael Ramirez also had the same impression of Obama’s approach.  He distills it down to a single image for Investors Business Daily today, in his inimitable style:

ramirez-sotu-lg

The problem actually isn’t Barack Obama, though.  He’s just a symptom of a much larger defect in the body politic, and it only requires a perusal of SOTU addresses from the last few decades to spot it.  The problem is that Americans want “free stuff,” and they reward politicians who promise it — even if they never deliver.  There is no such thing as “free stuff,” especially when it comes to government programs.  They have grown so large now that we’ve transitioned from putting ourselves in debt to raiding the future earnings of our great-grandchildren in an attempt to avoid the obvious conclusion that, in Robert Heinlein’s famous saying, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.

Barack Obama didn’t “infantilize” America, nor did George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, or other recent Presidents.  We’ve done that to ourselves, and the political class we create simply has responded to that fact.

Also, be sure to check out Ramirez’ terrific collection of his works: Everyone Has the Right to My Opinion, which covers the entire breadth of Ramirez’ career, and it gives fascinating look at political history.  Read my review here, and watch my interviews with Ramirez here and here.  And don’t forget to check out the entire Investors.com site, which has now incorporated all of the former IBD Editorials, while individual investors still exist.