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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Thoughts on the State of the Union

Posted by on Wed, Jan 26, 2011 at 12:35 AM

In progressive Seattle, the State of the Union address looked like a feint to the center. It was flimsy, poorly constructed, and it lacked any real comfort for the far liberal wing of the Democratic Party. (Although, as I said in the live-Slog, if Bill Clinton had given this speech full of talk of infrastructure and fostering scientific innovation and the end of DADT in 1996, it would have easily been the most progressive State of the Union in decades.) To the rest of the country, it looked like a very presidential speech. Obama positioned himself as the responsible dad of America (this first leg of his 2012 campaign, at least, is very heavy with "Our American Family" imagery). This SotU was lacking in specificity, and the language was ham-handed and full of oblique rah-rahisms. But America likes hammy language and rah-rah vibes from their presidents. Republicans couldn't argue the content of his speech without looking like total no-we-can't dicks.

So, no, as many of you were saying, it was nowhere near the best speech Obama has ever given. But as we learned in the 2008 campaign, one of Obama's finest abilities is his tendency to only expend exactly as much energy as he needs to expend in any political situation. Rather than pummeling John McCain in the debates, for instance, he simply ran out the clock by being reasonable, intelligent, and approachable. He realizes that not every speech needs to be a barn-burner. When he needs to pull out a home run, he always does. But when he needs to deliver his message to the center in a reasonable, inoffensive, positive way, he can do that, too.

I have very little to say about Paul Ryan's response: He didn't accidentally cuss on live television, he looked ill, and for the guy who's supposed to be the up-and-coming financial whiz kid of the Republican Party, he didn't give off a very confident air. And what is there to say about Michele Bachmann that hasn't been said before? Nobody knows where she was looking, her speech sounded crazy as fuck, and it thanks to her, it seems more likely than ever that the Republican Party is going to be facing a schism in 2012. The only question is whether that schism will be an all-out civil war that results in a third, teabaggy party or if it'll just wind up manifested as a platform that reads like it was written by a rabid raccoon. All in all, it was a very bad night for Republicans.


Comments (44) RSS

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Phoebe on NE 79th 1
It wasn't a bad night for either Republicans or Democrats. It was the same old churn. It was a wash.
Posted by Phoebe on NE 79th on January 25, 2011 at 10:06 PM · Report this
Canuck 2
First of all, if I had no idea who Paul Ryan was, after his speech I wouldn't let him operate household appliances, let alone be the "whiz kid" of the party.

Michelle Bachmann looks like she's wearing Halloween contacts, and as gus said, delivers her lines like a librarian reading to an unruly kindergarten class, complete with emphasizing hand gestures.

From the perspective of not actually living in the States, Obama's speech came off as the Presidential equivalent of the USAUSAUSA! chanting at Olympic hockey games. "Yeah, we know our R&D and manufacturing sucks right now, I mean, South Korea has faster internet, for fuck's sake, but pretty soon, we're gonna be the BEST, we're gonna WIN the future. Rah!"

And WTF? Repealing DADT = Allowing ROTC back on campuses?

At least he and Anderson wore purple ties for Dan...
Posted by Canuck on January 25, 2011 at 10:08 PM · Report this
I thought the entire night was boring as hell. Thankfully Tosh.o is on Comedy Central now. Finally something worth watching.
Posted by I Got Nuthin' on January 25, 2011 at 10:10 PM · Report this
Phoebe on NE 79th 4
Looks like Michelle Bachmann has been getting beauty tips from Katherine Harris.
Posted by Phoebe on NE 79th on January 25, 2011 at 10:13 PM · Report this
I thought the speech was good, not his best but good. And what is the big deal with the ROTC?
Posted by Democrat1234 on January 25, 2011 at 10:30 PM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 6
I thought all three speeches were boring as hell, and pretty much equally boring as hell.

Given that, more people know who Barack Obama is than know who Bachmann or what's-his-name is.

In a battle of mediocrity, Obama won this one hands down And it'll keep a few votes on the dems side. Hardly a grandstanding victory... more like a, "meh, we'll take what we can get" victory. But still, a bookkeeping victory for the dems when all the chips are down. I'm fine with that. Not happy, but fine.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on January 25, 2011 at 10:35 PM · Report this
Canuck 7
@5 "War is a poor chisel to carve out tomorrow." -MLK.

The same deal with the rest of the armed forces. And college kids are undoubtedly smart enough to seek them out if they wish, no need to recruit on campus.
Posted by Canuck on January 25, 2011 at 10:36 PM · Report this
Definitely boring, and more ridden with platitudes than promises, but what was he supposed to say? "Ya'll are idiots for voting in the same douchebags who caused this mess, and now my hands are pretty much tied"?

He's preempting moderate Republicans with the agreeable card. Come 2012, the moderate republicans are going to position themselves between the veritably-crazy teapartiers and some manufactured image of liberal boogeymen. I thought the ever-rightward shift in American politics would finally be done in 2006...
Posted by Subdued Excitement on January 25, 2011 at 10:42 PM · Report this
Bachmann's understanding of the battle of Iwo Jima has a number of problems. Since it was Japanese territory, we were actually the ones doing the "incursion". No doubt it was a fierce fight for our guys but I don't think any of them doubted the outcome as she did.
Posted by Zander on January 25, 2011 at 10:47 PM · Report this
Canuck 10
@8 Hope you've had a chance to pee by now... (heh)
Posted by Canuck on January 25, 2011 at 10:49 PM · Report this
@10 hah. Classic coyote ugly situation...only my BF is hot. And Canadian! Obama lulled him right to sleep 25 minutes in.
Posted by Subdued Excitement on January 25, 2011 at 11:02 PM · Report this
@10 again: And yet he watches the entire Queen's Speech every year with rapt attention...which is so boringly non-partisan it makes statements like "sunshine is nice" and "kittens are cute" seem bold!
Posted by Subdued Excitement on January 25, 2011 at 11:07 PM · Report this
Josh Bis 13
The funny thing is that a lot of that was supposed to be in the 1996 Clinton agenda, but by the time he took office interest rates were so high that he couldn't propose that much spending. Maybe Obama will have better luck.
Posted by Josh Bis on January 25, 2011 at 11:12 PM · Report this
Canuck 14
@11 & 12: Well of course he's hot if he's Canadian! And yes, the Queen...there's just something about her plummy, constipated vowels, she's just so reassuring.
Posted by Canuck on January 25, 2011 at 11:22 PM · Report this
I mistyped when I lamented ROTC. As I tried to explain later, my only objection to them is that you have to march in unfashionable shoes. My lament is that he's opening every school and college in the country to *military recruiters*. And that he followed his mention of DADT with that promise.

While Christopher pointed out his conviction that a lot of people in school belong in the military instead, it is worth noting that a recruiter's job is to make every college-worthy student believe they will improve their baccalaureate in every way by taking just one little tour of duty first. If a student wishes to join he can use the internet to learn where to go learn more. Their salesmen shouldn't be let into the high schools.
Posted by gloomy gus on January 25, 2011 at 11:31 PM · Report this
veo_ 16
Eh, kind of boring all the way around. Obama was alright but vague and the GOP/Teaparty response was predictable and/or incoherent. Pretty much what I expected, no surprises.

@1 is right. A total wash.
Posted by veo_ on January 25, 2011 at 11:39 PM · Report this
the military recruiters on campus are showing students that instead of not finding a civilian job and having to go back to live in their parents' basement, they can make a good recruitment bonus and get away from being a failure for 3 years (or forever). And the students don't have to go down to a recruitment office; it's real convenient for them.
Posted by sarah68 on January 26, 2011 at 12:01 AM · Report this
prompt 18
ROTC used to be required class on most campuses. That ended in the 60's, and some campuses said they could come back if they got rid of DADT.
Posted by prompt on January 26, 2011 at 12:06 AM · Report this
prompt 19
To clarify - ROTC got kicked off campuses in the 60's and some campuses said they could return if they ended DADT. Not return to mandatory ROTC class.

I dislike seeing ROTC on my campus, but it's not that big of a deal. I doubt that many private university students really get suckered in anyway, and those that do get needed financial support for college.
Posted by prompt on January 26, 2011 at 12:09 AM · Report this
passionate_jus 20
@17 Fuck military recruiters! As someone who spent 7.5 long years in the national guard, let me assure you that they lie to you and mislead you as much as they can.

Recruiters should not be allowed on campus. They are worse than used car salesmen.
Posted by passionate_jus on January 26, 2011 at 12:12 AM · Report this
passionate_jus 21
Oh my god I just watched Bachmann.

What the fuck! She's a vampire!

Where the fuck is she looking?

Good god. I think she was in the backroom of a Denny's on some Virginia interstate.
Posted by passionate_jus on January 26, 2011 at 12:24 AM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 22
I actually spent a month working in a recruiter's office when I was between duty stations. Yes, they absolutely lie like hell to meet their quotas. No way should they be allowed anywhere near a public high school.

College campuses is another matter. Presumably college students are less gullible and less likely to be manipulated by recruiters. And they're adults, entitled to make their own choices (even bad ones).

Many colleges kicked the ROTC out during Vietnam. Even more kicked them out over DADT. It became an issue during Elena Kagan's confirmation hearings because she booted ROTC out of Harvard while she was dean because the military wouldn't allow gays. Now that DADT is ending, that will remove one objection some colleges had to ROTC, and they may allow them back. Too soon to know for sure yet.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on January 26, 2011 at 12:47 AM · Report this
@ 7 I got to disagree with you there, heck they even should be allowed on high school campuses. It is an opportunity fro kids with no money to get college paid for I known several friends who did this and were able to go to college because of the GI Bill.
Posted by Democrat1234 on January 26, 2011 at 1:24 AM · Report this
tunanator 26
I went into a building to check out ROTC when I was a student, and watched 3 or 4 guys cheering and laughing their ass off at a film of a bunch of Asians getting napalmed.

Yeah, war's funny guys. Laugh it up. I never went back into the ROTC building.
Posted by tunanator on January 26, 2011 at 2:16 AM · Report this
Hey, I hope this isn't a stupid question, but has Slog been hacked?
Posted by Ignatz Mouse on January 26, 2011 at 6:31 AM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 28
Too long; didn't watch.

(And yes, @27, it's a stupid question.)
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on January 26, 2011 at 6:46 AM · Report this
Canuck 29
@27 You can see the funky modern art, too? Thought it was just me...
Posted by Canuck on January 26, 2011 at 6:56 AM · Report this
Wait, so it is? Or is this some meta thing that I don't get. Or some auction item maybe?
Posted by Ignatz Mouse on January 26, 2011 at 7:05 AM · Report this
Canuck 31
@30 I know nothing about web pages, but it looks like the usual ads aren't loading, and those red and grey shapes are "placeholder" graphics. That is my "no computer skills/arts background" take on it, anyway...
Posted by Canuck on January 26, 2011 at 7:15 AM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 32
Oh, those. I usually just stick to the RSS feed, so I didn't know what you were talking about. Yeah, kinda strange.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on January 26, 2011 at 7:29 AM · Report this
I'd say placeholder but they are so.... 1980's in a non hip way.
If you click on the spots they take you to some dude and lady with tattoos of that symbol. I fed the symbol into 'Tin Eye' and it did not recognize it as a anywhere else on the web.

Let us know what is up Stranger.
Posted by Ignatz Mouse on January 26, 2011 at 7:39 AM · Report this
I watched the whole thing and then said: "How can anyone find anything to bitch about in that speech?" It was intelligent and inspired.

The problem is that everyone wants a president they can have BBQ and a beer with (see Reagan, Bush II, Obama). If you're complaining that the SOTU wasn't entertaining enough, you're part of the problem.
Posted by mitten on January 26, 2011 at 7:47 AM · Report this
@34 but remember the occasion: a liveslog by a bunch of attention hounds sitting in a poser bar, to a commenting audience of us japing halfwits, all of us trying to outclever each other - OF COURSE we all wished for fireworks.
Posted by gloomy gus on January 26, 2011 at 8:14 AM · Report this
@35 -Also noted: Paul only writes negative posts. Always. He hasn't found joy in anything in years. I'm worried about him.
Posted by mitten on January 26, 2011 at 8:28 AM · Report this
stinkbug 37
For the record, here's what he said:

"Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love. And with that change, I call on all our college campuses to open their doors to our military recruiters and ROTC. It is time to leave behind the divisive battles of the past. It is time to move forward as one nation."
Posted by stinkbug on January 26, 2011 at 8:29 AM · Report this
i have absolutely NO problem with ROTC on college campuses .. I’d rather have the military recruit there, than cruising for skinheads, felons and high school drop outs. Our military represents us in many places, whether we like it or not
Posted by olive oyl on January 26, 2011 at 8:42 AM · Report this
An interesting and perceptive comment on Obama’s just-assertive-enough approach to speeches; it hadn’t occurred to me before but it’s very much accurate. He’s like Muhammed Ali, feinting and dodging and not providing a point-blank target. On the other hand, if he ever needs to debate S. Palin or M. Bachmann, I’d secretly hope he’d change his approach; I’d love to see that knockout.
Posted by onalki on January 26, 2011 at 8:50 AM · Report this
@36, I hope he doesn't start smoking again. Then again, back when he smoked he'd also routinely post full, interesting book reviews. I wonder if it's weirdly related? Nowadays we're lucky to see a comix roundup every now and then.
Posted by gloomy gus on January 26, 2011 at 9:27 AM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 41
Gus @35,
Definitely! I was all psyched up to hear some genuine insanity from Bachmann and she was more or less a total letdown. The same boring teabagger talk they all repeat ad nauseum.

I wanted her to appear in a revolutionary war outfit like someone commented in the liveslog... now THAT would have made my evening!
Posted by Urgutha Forka on January 26, 2011 at 9:42 AM · Report this
Urgutha, now I'm picturing her in a tricorner hat, very becoming...
Posted by gloomy gus on January 26, 2011 at 9:43 AM · Report this
Paul Constant 43
@36: You've either got a weird definition of "always," or you don't read all of my posts. I posted 12 things yesterday. Three of them were positive, two were negative, and the rest were newsy/bloggy roundup posts without much opinion at all. I'm doing just fine, thanks.
Posted by Paul Constant http:// on January 26, 2011 at 9:49 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 44
I'm still waiting for the Daily Show take on this.
Posted by Will in Seattle on January 26, 2011 at 10:22 AM · Report this
@8- "Ya'll are idiots for voting in the same douchebags who caused this mess, and now my hands are pretty much tied"?

Yep, that's what I wanted him to say. And I'd want him to write it down and email it to everyone, since there is no requirement for the President's State of the Union report to be delivered in speech form and waste all that time and money and preempt whatever was supposed to be on NPR last night.

Oh wait, did he preempted Wiretap? OK then.
Posted by dwight moody on January 26, 2011 at 10:29 AM · Report this
Yes, "his hands are tied." There's no way he can support gay marriage or stop persecuting whistle-blowers, or stop holding terror suspects indefinitely, or support an investigation of the previous admin's crimes (good thing they weren't whistle-blowers), or even stop doing this:…

Except that he could change any and all of that if he had any courage or sense of morality.

But you guys keep focusing on that horse race, which is the same year after year, while the people above don't really care if their lives are destroyed by Republicans or Democrats. And people who support Obama don't care that their lives are destroyed at all.
Posted by LJM on January 26, 2011 at 5:23 PM · Report this

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