Half or a quarter of the way through this interesting experiment with an incessantly splenetic presidency, much of the nation has become accustomed to daily mortifications. Or has lost its capacity for embarrassment, which is even worse.
If the country’s condition is calibrated simply by economic data — if, that is, the United States is nothing but an economy — then the state of the union is good. Except that after two years of unified government under the party that formerly claimed to care about fiscal facts and rectitude, the nation faces a $1 trillion deficit during brisk growth and full employment. Unless the president has forever banished business cycles — if he has, his modesty would not have prevented him from mentioning it — the next recession will begin with gargantuan deficits, which will be instructive.
The president has kept his promise not to address the unsustainable trajectory of the entitlement state (about the coming unpleasant reckoning, he said: “Yeah, but I won’t be here”), and his party’s congressional caucuses have elevated subservience to him into a political philosophy.