Last Tuesday, when he issued his third State of the Union speech, U.S. President Barack Obama described what appears to be the centerpiece of his political platform as he searches for reelection: the promise of a functioning economy for all — one that promotes greater “equality” and social justice, and one in which we are no longer “subsidizing millionaires.”

The presidential address — marking, for all practical purposes, the starting point of the presidential campaign in that country — prompted a new wave of criticism from the challenging Republican Party. Yesterday, expressing the official position of that party in his speech, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels said that Obama’s policies relating to the financial sector have made the U.S. fiscal crisis “radically worse.”

Meanwhile, aspiring candidate Mitt Romney called Obama a “president who is detached from reality.” “He’s detached from the people. He’s detached from his own words. His actions are so different from what he says that people are surprised and shocked,” Romney said.

Let us not forget to mention the Republican opposition’s double standard, as its legislative intransigence and its efforts to thwart each and every one of Obama’s proposals have been an impediment to the recovery of the U.S. economy. What must not be overlooked is that the critiques made of the current president are, in essence, devastating and sustained, and constitute one more indicator of the political weakness of the incumbent.

It should not be forgotten that Obama commanded, during the first two years of his term, the legislative force and political capital necessary to enact the changes he promised in his first presidential campaign, among them the promise of financial sector reform and a redesign of the inequitable U.S. tax system, and even now he possesses the administrative authority required to undertake the economic recovery of the country. However, whether it be through lack of will, political calculation or pressure from the powers that be, the current administration has been ensnared, since its inception, in a tangle of political and corporate interests, and has been unable to enact the transformations that the country so urgently needs, beginning in the economic and social realms.

Today, with less than a year until the end of Obama’s presidential term, the role of political power in Washington continues to be, broadly speaking, identical to that of past administrations: a mechanism used for greasing the wheels of private businesses, not for seeking the welfare of the people. To make matters worse, the economic recovery promised by the first African-American occupying the White House trembles at the first signs of a recession.

As a result, the Obama campaign’s return to the promises that should have governed his administration, far from showing clarity and a vision for the country, is indicative of the lack of direction, the timidity and uncertainty that have characterized his government. In any case, it seems unlikely that the current president will excite electoral enthusiasm among the more vulnerable population of that country — whose conditions have not improved in the past three years — or among the progressive and enlightened sectors of American society that gave him such a historic electoral victory in November 2008.