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Date: Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Obama’s SOTU, 'implicit acknowledgment of failure'
US President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, his last before leaving office, was an “implicit acknowledgment” of failure on his campaign message of hope and change, said an American historian.
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On Tuesday night, Obama delivered his seventh State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill, trying to sell hope to a nervous nation, and warning Americans to be mindful of who they will pick to succeed him into the White House.

“In spite of the soaring rhetoric and assurance that America today is ‘strong,’ the final State of the Union address of President Obama was actually an implicit acknowledgment that he had failed to fulfill the great hopes that millions of Americans, and many more around the world, held for him when he took office seven years ago,” said Mark Weber, director of the Institute for Historical Review, based in California.

“So immense was the expectation that his presidency would dramatically usher in a radiant new era – one that many said would be ‘transformational’ -- Barack Obama was given what is perhaps the world’s most coveted award, the Nobel Peace Prize – not for anything he had actually done, but as an expression of confidence in what he would achieve,” he continued.

“As Obama himself implicitly noted in this -- his last State of the Union address -- those high hopes have not been realized, particularly with regard to race relations, the issue that many thought that, given his own ancestry, he would be particularly successful in tackling,” Weber noted.

“The reality has been disappointing,” the historian said. “Public opinion polls -- taken shortly after Obama took office -- showed that two thirds of Americans believed that race relations were generally good. By comparison, recent public opinion surveys show that nearly six in ten Americans, including heavy majorities of both whites and blacks, think race relations are now generally bad, and that nearly four in ten Americans think the situation is getting worse.”

In his address, Obama touted his economic record, arguing that “anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction.”

Laying out his vision for America’s future, Obama said economic opportunity, security and peace were all within reach, but “will only happen if we fix our politics.”

“In spite of the president’s upbeat talk about how the US economy is getting better, and his repeated expressions of confidence about the future, public opinion polls show unprecedented levels of distrust by Americans in politicians of both major parties, as well as distrust of the media, and historically unprecedented levels of pessimism about the country’s future,” Weber said.

“One clear expression of this broad anxiety and frustration is the remarkable level of support for Donald Trump, a man who Obama took time, at least by implication, to denounce in his address,” he continued.

Obama never uttered Trump’s name, but he offered a powerful rebuke to the Republican presidential front-runner and his divisive rhetoric on the campaign trail.

The president said the US needs "to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion," not as "a matter of political correctness," but to maintain the country's values.

“As frustration grows, there will be voices urging us to fall back into tribes, to scapegoat fellow citizens who don’t look like us, or pray like us, or vote like we do, or share the same background,” Obama said in what appeared to be a reference to Trump.

Obama’s speech came as he still has one full year in the White House.

“As things now stand, Barack Obama is very likely to leave office having failed to live up to the great hopes and expectations he had done so much to encourage when he first entered the White House,” Weber said.

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