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Obama's Words

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President Barack Obama greets Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner prior to delivering the 2012 State of the Union address on Capitol Hill, 01/24/12. (photo: Getty Images)

Last night's 2012 State of the Union address was most significant in that President Obama was kind enough to send fairly clear signals about where he intends to go. We have a road map. So that's a start.

If you were looking for social responsibility, Obama's comments on labor, trade, taxes, regulation of financial institutions, consumer protection, and education were on point rhetorically. Be aware that every time he said to the members of Congress, "If you send me a bill ... I will sign it," that statement incorporates the word "if," so that may not qualify as a plan of action.

The "other" side of Obama, however, was in attendance as well, and that President Obama appeared to drag some pretty substantial compromises with him to the podium.

Trouble on the Environmental Front

In the face of real community concern about allowing Hydraulic Fracturing, commonly known as "fracking," as a method for extracting natural gas, Obama seemed remarkably detached. He touted natural-gas extraction as the greatest thing since the Hoover Dam and pointed to a 100-year supply as justification.

Yes, he also touched on "green themes," renewable energy, fuel efficiency and all of that. But the environmentally responsible remarks were overshadowed by Obama's enthusiastic embrace of natural gas exploration "on public lands." That might easily equate to fracking in the nation's national parks and most cherished wild places.

Obama addressed environmental concerns about fracking only in a non-specific reference to mandating that energy companies involved in gas exploration be forced to "disclose the chemicals they use." Such information could be useful in constructing an epitaph for the North American ecosystem, but it's a poor substitute for protecting and conserving.

On the Warpath?

Big concern were Obama's remarks on Iran, both for their gratuitous bravado and conspicuous lack of understanding. Not much daylight there between Bush and Obama's logic, or oratory. Obama's a bit more reserved than his predecessor about initiating large-scale US military intervention in the affairs of other nations -- so far -- but if he makes the wrong call on Iran nothing he's done to date will matter.

On the whole it kind of sounds like he means well, but he's trying to please all the members of Congress all the time.

So much for Obama the realist.

This article cross-posted from Reader Supported News

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Marc Ash is the founder and former Executive Director of Truthout, now the founder, editor and publisher of Reader Supported News:

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