ISIS and Trumpism dominate Obama’s last State of the Union
President Obama used his final State of the Union address to consider himself as an ex-president — talking in conversational, contemplative and backward-looking terms at the country he would leave behind, and warning not-very-subtly that the country shouldn’t pick Donald Trump to take his place.
“As frustration [with politics] 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, one of several moments when he seemed to be referencing the Republican front-runner’s suspicious attitude toward immigrants and Muslims. “We can’t afford to go down that path. It won’t deliver the economy we want, or the security we want, but most of all, it contradicts everything that makes us the envy of the world.”
Obama’s speech came with more than a year – a full one-eighth of his term – still remaining in the White House. But he seemed to be already thinking of what the place would look like without him, and trying to balance confidence in his achievements (“ Ask Osama bin Laden,” he said at one point, touting his anti-terror credentials) with acknowledgements that many Americans didn’t feel as good about the Obama era as he did.
“I believe in you,” Obama said, as he closed. “That’s why I stand here confident that the State of our Union is strong.”