Let's just admit it: President Obama's State of the Union speeches are getting a bit boring and annoyingly repetitive.
For instance, it’s been like half a decade Barack Obama has been promising, and effectively failing, to shut down the controversial military prison Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
This year, of course, he again mentioned how the United States detests torture – as of 2009 – and how expensive it is to keep inmates in an out-of-country facility (around $3 million per prisoner) and that he will shut down Gitmo because “it’s not who we are.” But almost everyone knows by now what’s likely to happen or rather, not happen.
When it comes to SOTU highlights, it's not just what's in Obama's speech. It’s also what’s not in it.
In fact, omitting important issues is worse. As monotonous as the SOTU addresses may be, at least they are helpful in bringing up topics that the government conveniently chooses to ignore for the rest of the year.
Fox News reporter and anchor Bret Baier was clearly not pleased that Obama didn’t mention the word “Al Qaeda” in his speech at all. (So what if the president discussed the Islamic State group and how coalition forces have been successfully impeding the Islamic State militant group’s advance – at least in Iraq.)
While Baier has pointed out something rather trivial, here are five key issues that Obama should’ve, at the very least, brought up or talked about in greater detail in his SOTU speech.
CIA Torture Report
There was almost no mention the CIA torture report released by the Senate Intelligence Committee just last month.
The horrific details of the torturous “enhanced interrogation” methods implemented by the government intelligence agency and OK'd by top U.S. officials such as Dick Cheney were completely ignored – probably because all of it belongs in the past.
However, does it make it less condemnable? No. Should the people responsible for the program be forgiven? Of course not.
So why did the president not even give the slightest hint that he remembers the torture report?
Well, it’s a stupid question considering Obama has said the U.S. should “leave these techniques where they belong – in the past.”
Related: Do Americans Support Torture?
Affordable Care Act
One of the highlights of his previous SOTU speeches, Obama didn’t say the words “Affordable Care Act” or “HealthCare.gov” even once in this year’s speech.
Though he made a reference to the health care law, he left out the federal health insurance enrollment site – completely – which remains open for enrollment until Feb. 15.
Despite a reported increase in mass shooting incidents as well as the federal gun violence stats that tell us every day in America, nearly 90 people are killed by guns (a total of roughly 32,000 annually), Obama made no mention of guns in his address.
Almost two years after the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, the fact that gun control isn’t a top priority for the president anymore is a little more than disappointing.
Recommended: In The US, Guns Kill Just As Much As People Do
The Charlie Hebdo shooting, undoubtedly, is one of the most tragic incidents we need to talk about right now and the president indeed discussed it during his SOTU address. U.S. lawmakers also paid tribute to the victims of the Paris attacks by holding up pencils.
However, Obama failed to highlight the massacre going on in Nigeria, where, according to some reports, more than 2,000 people were killed at the hands of Boko Haram terrorists – and that it has steadily increased since.
Considering the First Lady was the one of the first people to initiate the #BringBackOurGirls campaign last year, it’s just odd that Obama didn’t bother mentioning Nigeria at all.
No Child Left Behind
Although the president touted his recently proposed free community college plan, he failed to mention what the Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss called “the big debate at the moment in education centers around” – the No Child Left Behind Act. She added:
“The implementation of the Common Core State Standards and Common Core testing is also a hot education topic, but you wouldn’t know it from listening to Obama.”
“Obama didn’t mention either NCLB or Common Core. Not a word.”
College Sexual Assault
Perhaps the worst omission in the SOTU is that Obama completely – and we mean completely – ignored the college sexual assault issue, despite the fact that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) brought as her guest Columbia University senior Emma Sulkowicz, who started a unique mattress protest against her alleged rapist last year.
When the Department of Education released a list of 55 colleges with open “sexual violence investigations” last May, it started a nationwide discussion on how institutions are equally responsible for the plight of campus rape survivors after they failed, or in many cases refused, to address their complaints. Many thought it would bring about a huge change in the way people talk about rape culture in the U.S.
However, now that Obama didn’t even mention the words "rape on campus" in his speech, we know where it’s heading.