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January 27, 2010

Comments

Thanks, Eric.

Re: "The million dollar question: which Republican lawmaker coarsely interrupts the proceedings this time?"

I had been thinking the same thing.

Is it too much to ask for a little decorum, not to mention respect for the office, this time around?

Yes.

(simple answers, simple questions and all that)

Are you kidding? All of them are going to interrupt and it's going to be hilarious and awesome. The take-home message from last year's speech was that being an asshole pays dividends; Wilson's popularity boomed and he raised a boatload of money. It resulted directly in assurance that stick-in-the-muddism and lies were the best combo to beat back Obama's agenda and win back Congress.

Ten bucks says Obama's crew prepped him with some fantastic comeback to the first idiot who belts out an ignorant objection.

"Ten bucks says Obama's crew prepped him with some fantastic comeback to the first idiot who belts out an ignorant objection."

Good one.

Maybe Biden will give the hairy eyeball or whatever you call it.

Just to be clear, and I may be wrong, I think Wilson's "You lie!" antics happened during a special joint session of Congress President Obama called specifically to promote Health Care Reform.

Regardless, joint session -- or SOTU -- a certain amount of decorum, even pomp, is called for.

It's a special event and it's the Presidency of the United States, the people's office.

That's why I thought when Wilson pulled his little stunt he wasn't just insulting Democrats and President Obama but he was insulting regular citizens, if you will.

But the guy's an a--hole.

And your point about it working, to raise campaign funds, etc., sadly, is true.

Top Ten Ways the Republicans Can Disrupt the State of the Union speech:

10) Fake hiccups
9) Whoopie cushion on Pelosi's seat
8) Parachute in dressed as pimps
7) One side of the seating shouting "Tastes great," the other side retorting "Less filling"
6) Wear "I'm With Stupid" t-shirts while posing next to Reid during the photo-ops
5) Have Sen. Landrieu's phone go off constantly during the speech (THAT'S why those idiots were trying to wiretap her!)
4) Replace the heads of the conservative members of the Supreme Court with paper mache dummies so they can attempt a daring escape
3) One word: Kazoos
2) Play the Wonkette Drinking Game: every time Obama says "change" they'll take two sips. If he says "Tallahassee" they'll drink the whole bottle!

and the Number One way the Republicans can disrupt the SOTU:
1) Not show up at all! Wait... actually that'd be a good thing...

Friend of mine who writes for Stars & Stripes just said on his Twitter account that WH excerpts provided to press corps have no mention of military or repealing DADT.

>>>sigh<<<

The message I'm hoping to hear is this:

"We tried the bipartisan path, our republican friends didn't want to play, so now we're gonna start again and it's gonna be my way, take it or leave it, because we have important business that we need to get done and we don't have time to screw around."

What I expect to see and hear are Obama trimming his goals back dramatically, and the Republicans pissing on him nonetheless. Just because they can, and they enjoy it.

Anybody wanna lay odds?

I'm going to be in a rehearsal during the speech and probably won't be able to get any info until tomorrow.

Hope: Obama tells House Democrats to swallow their pride and pass the Senate bill because short of an amendment bill through reconciliation (which he should lean on the Senate to engage in), nothing is going to come from further wrangling that isn't either bled to death or ineffectual. And he calls the Republicans on their plans, now that Scott Brown is in, to grind the legislative process to a halt in order to prove government doesn't work.

More likely: Obama offers bland support of reform, which means breaking up the bill into useless smaller bills and trying to win over Republicans and poser-centrists AGAIN. Because Rahm Emanuel thinks conceding everything and declaring victory is what you call success.

As for potential outbursts, I'll go with Dana Rohrabacher (CA), whom I distinctly remember as a douche when he was on Bill Maher's show a few years ago, and is low-profile enough that he would think such a stunt could benefit him.

Is a Donkey Fox interruption ever unwarranted?

As for SOTU speech, check out Maureen Dowd's inane non arugula fantasies

My fantasy is that Obama proposes a 100% tax cut for people making less than 100K a year, and demands a roll-call vote on the spot. Force the damned Republicans to argue that a massive tax cut for not-rich people would be fiscally irresponsible. Once they do that, sic the Teabaggers on'em. Then pass healthcare reform while the both of them are distracted. THAT would be "triangulation".

--TP

Great Top 10, Paul.

Worthy of Letterman.

Damn you, President Obama. The man really does have a way with words, a sense of history, a sense of perspective, a presence on stage.

In this way, when giving a speech, he really does remind me of his faux hero, Ronald Reagan.

Although, now that he is getting into the nitty-gritty of the economy, right off the bat in his speech, those words are starting to sound hollow.

Love the smirks on the Republicans.

Assholes.

Obama is trying to beat them at their own game, hyping his tax cuts.

And Joe Lieberman, you're a traitor. Every time I see your sad-sack mug, it makes me sick.

My prediction: total collapse, tells his (former?) supporters to screw off, surrenders to Majority Leader McConnell, and asks us all to join him in support of President Lieberman.

Damn you, President Obama.

I know. I know.

I winced at the "tax cuts" repetition, and the "not one dime" on income taxes. Not really laying the groundwork on fiscal sanity there...

Glad he's bringing up international competitiveness. "I do not accept second place for America" - no kidding.

"We will double our exports over the next [two?] years."

Good promise, but god knows how he's going to do it. Doubling exports would erase the trade deficit and turn it to a surplus, which would be great. (Exports are about $1.1 trillion, imports about $1.8 trillion.)

And "reform export controls consistent with national security" - sounds like code for more weapons exports by loosening export controls, which I'm not so sure about.

"Enforcing agreements so our partners play by the rules" - not very veiled threat against China, and no mention of China in the following few sentences where he mentions other countries by name.

"That's why I am calling for a New Jobs Bill tonight."

So:

We are cutting taxes, putting a freeze on spending and creating a New Jobs Bill.

The devil must be in the details.

---

Interesting how Republicans stand when he talks about tax cuts, but remain seated, looking grim and glum when the Prez talks about getting tough on Wall Street.

They are evil.

---

Meanwhile, talking about cutting, or eliminating, capital gains on small businesses, and penalizing companies who do business overseas, making for jobs outside our borders not in them, are very Republicanish (and not necessarily bad) ideas.

And this could have come right out of the mouth of Ronnie Reagan:

"I do not accept second place for the United States of America."

Who said American Exceptionalism is dead?

---

And, while the nitty-gritty economic part of the speech seems to be going pretty quickly -- maybe there's only so much you can promise -- that sure was a gloss-over of the same-old, same-old when the inevitable talk of energy, new energy, clean energy, and our dependence on foreign energy, arose.

---

That $10,000 college tax credit issue perked up my 11-year-old's ears.

"Cool."

Agreed, son.

---


Short Sale Obama -- maybe because his HAMP program has been such a disgrace -- could not have addressed the nation's raging foreclosure issue any more inadequately.

Two sentences?


Yes, Mr. President, you still do not have a grip on this problem.

Empty promises on keeping middle-class Americans in their homes.

Empty promises, weak solutions and no courage in your convictions.

Attend a seminar on foreclosure-relief assistance, and see how little relief you receive there.

Try getting a hold of someone on the phone to discuss and describe and demystify your HAMP program.

Get a reality check.

Do some dirty work yourself.

Get a grip.

Epic fail.


---


Sharp tie, Joe.

We miss you here in litle ol' Delaware.

And is it just me, or did President Obama give short shrift on the Hot Topic of the Day, Health Care Reform?

And did he basically just put the ball back in the GOP's court?

I would like to hear (too late now) Obama call out the Republicans on the way down the aisle ("Hey, screw the glad handing, any of you cracker obstructionist scum have anything you wanna shout up front, cause we can go outside right now and I'll Sherman your pasty white anti-American Erickson asses up and down the reflecting pond.

After a period of deafening silence, he then should say, "Whattaya know, Republicans finally shut their lying pie holes. Let's keep it that way.

Also ... here's my (the President's) challenge to American businessmen who want the government to leave them alone .. I want the unemployment rate down to 0%, you heard me, 0% by next Tuesday at this time, and I mean with full health and retirement benefits, or the Federal government will hire every single one of the 17% percent of Americans who are unemployed, and their jobs will be to collect the tax bill from you cowardly risk-averse entrepreneurs, if you'll pardon my French.

Incentivize this!

To the Democrats:

Pass The Damn Bill with a public option, because if you don't, the Supreme Court has just ruled that money is speech, so here are two words worth their weight in gold -- Eff you!"

Then a moment of silence as the President waits for Joe Lieberman (coward, untrustworthy traitor, liar, lickspittle scum) to seat himself in Mitch McConnell lap with his tongue in John McCain's ear (by the way, there's guy who has spent almost as much time talking on the T.V. news shows as he did giving away American secrets to the Vietcong at the Hanoi Hilton).

A further minor scuffle as Ben Nelson is hauled outside to be summarily shot.

And then, let's get on with the speech.

OK, Obama did what he does best, which is to be the adult in the room.

I have my issues with him. I think he has been way, way more deferential to the banks than he needed to be. IMO he's failed to drive the necessary stake in the heart of the Bush-era torture regime. I'm not sure he knows WTF he's doing in Afghanistan.

But I feel obliged to get the man's back. He steps up.

It's good to have an adult in the room.

Suddenly, I'm looking forward to seeing what happens this year.

Armchair conclusion of what was a very Clintonesque speech (in length; I had time to take a shower at the tail end, and No Drama was still speaking upon toweling off) . . .

If the speech was intended to win back Independents and his disgruntled (disminishing?) base, I think it failed.

If it was intended to win over some Republicans, I can't figure out why he keeps trying. That ship, S.S. Bipartisanship, sailed in the summer. (Actually, I thought he could have been harsher on the Party of No, which simply is not President Obama's style, although he did refer briefly to their obstructionism.)

If it was intended to regain the confidence of the country, the jury is out.

I believe presidents receive a (short-term) bump in the polls after these things.

Meanwhile, this new Republican governor of Virginia, evoking quite a bit of Jefferson, and finally getting around to quoting Scripture -- amen! -- is looking quite presidential himself, the anti-Jidal.

I think Obama's great. He's as good as we can possibly get. Anyone who disagrees, please name someone who would be better AND get elected. I'm not sure about everything he's doing, but I don't doubt that he sincerely wants to bring the country to a better place, both materially and morally, and he needs our support.

Well, the room is Romper Room.

I think the kids eventually ate Miss Janey during a commercial break.

I was watching the talking jackel heads (no sound) before the SOTU on whatever of the useless channels was on at my venue this evening (Bill Bennett, looking like Raymond Burr having just swallowed Orson Welles for lunch, pontificating; Mary Matalin and James Carville hunched like a couple of fully-wattled, starving vultures on a tree branch eyeing what's left of the kill after the hyenas skulk off -- has there been an uglier married couple since Charles Laughton and Elsa Lanchester exchanged bodily fluids; Paul Begala and the usual lineup, and I was thinking if a Haiti-scale earthquake took down the building, America would be approximately 30% better off without these self-appointed demagogues telling us what ought to be said, what will be said, and what won't be said, and what we should think about all of the former.

Hey, I've got a great way to double our exports: Buy one, get one free.

What do I win?

A telling tidbit from one of those focus groups of regular Americans, a mix of Republicans, Dems and Independents, with those ever-present dials of Frank Luntz fame (although I imagine Frankie's over on Fox), on CNN with Jessica Yellin.

Ms. Yellin just said that every time President Obama mentioned being Hopeful -- his campaign's catch-all, get-out-of-jail-free ideal -- the dials of Independents, the backbone of his victorious election, registered Negatively.

Telling.

I guess after a full 12 months of promised Hope and Change weary Independents, like myself, want results and Reality We Can Believe In.


Not to mention jobs.

And staying in our homes.


Postscript: It took Mr. Obama 25 minutes to get to Health Care, not a good sign for any sort of reform.

This president, unlike George W. Bush and, to some extent, Bill Clinton, does not relish a fight.

Kiss Health Care Reform good-bye, which I think died the day Scott Brown won Ted Kennedy's old Senate seat.

" . . . Bill Bennett, looking like Raymond Burr having just swallowed Orson Welles for lunch, pontificating; Mary Matalin and James Carville hunched like a couple of fully-wattled, starving vultures on a tree branch eyeing what's left of the kill after the hyenas skulk off -- has there been an uglier married couple since Charles Laughton and Elsa Lanchester exchanged bodily fluids . . ."

Too much.

Lol.

Thullen, you have to admit: At least that Starship Enterprise set looks pretty impressive on CNN.

Mary Matalin scares my wife.

Yet she's OK with Carville (probably because she just doesn't take him seriously).

I don't get Bill Bennett. Never did.

That Roland WhateverHisLastNameIs is an Obama apologist extraordinaire, neutralizing Bennett's right-wing zeal, making both of them useless.

But I'll take David Gergen for experienced, reasoned, even-handed analysis.

And I'll take more of Jessica Yellin and her secluded focus group -- and much less of John King and that damn Magic Wall that seems to give the otherwise pulseless Wolf Blitzer a raging hard-on; King just revealed breathlessly that his Wall is giving us "a global universe of tweets" (I don't know about you, John, but I'm getting old and wouldn't know a tweet from a twit).

The posters at TPM Cafe seem to have loved it--it's rekindled their faith in him.

Didn't watch it myself. Presidential speeches give me hives. But I hope he figures out that being bipartisan hasn't gotten him anywhere, not even from his centrist perspective.

I took some of what he said as intended to call the Republicans on their insincerity when it comes to populism, but I don't know how effective that will be. There were several moments of fairly desperate appeal to the Republicans to think of something other than the next election; I seriously doubt that will have any effect.

Whether he really, really understands this is unclear.

By the way, I'm an Obama fanboy, with some caveats. I wish he was more FDR, less Bill Clinton; he's really a lot like Clinton in a lot of ways. But his moral sense is good, his political sense has been excellent - his campaign was perfectly pitched - and I think the last year has been such a huge learning process for the actual dials and levers of being President that he sort of had to neglect the "continual campaign" aspects of the Presidency, something he's clearly not totally comfortable with.

I don't lay most of the blame for the disaster on healthcare at his feet, tempting though that is. Congress is a co-equal branch of government, and the Senate has decided to make this country ungovernable by enacting a dead zone 20 votes wide, instead of accepting majority rule. The point of majority rule is that one way or another decisions get made, even when we disagree. Supermajority rule means that under normal circumstances nothing can be passed that does not have consensus, and since the Republicans have decided to deny this President any cooperation, we're totally screwed.

@ russell 10:34PM

I'm not sure Obama has done anything at all on torture, much less put a stake through the heart of it.

He has claimed that "the U.S. does not torture", but Bush made the same claim.

He has refused to prosecute (or even investigate) Bush's torturers. There is likewise no chance of any investigation or prosecution of those who gave them legal cover.

The prison at Guantanamo Bay remains open. His current plan calls for relocating it rather than closing it. He has no intent of trying all prisoners there (they intend to try the guilty ones -- those for whom they have no evidence will not have trials).

The White House pushed Congress to grant the Secretary of War the power to conceal evidence of U.S. torture.

Amnesty International's most recent report on U.S. torture covers this in more detail, but I can't help but conclude that his record on torture has been terrible.

Sapient: but I don't doubt that he sincerely wants to bring the country to a better place, both materially and morally, and he needs our support.

In a democracy, supporting your elected representative means - among other things - pointing out loud and very damn clear "This is a key issue for me: do it or I won't donate to your campaign, help work to get you elected again, or vote for you."

Because, if said often enough, loudly enough, and from enough voters, that should give the elected representative the legitimate right to say "This is a key issue: it must happen".

Obama needs that kind support from everyone who voted for him. He needs to have the public narrative be: do what you were voted in to do, or don't expect our votes next time.

How do you plan to give Obama the support he needs, Sapient? How are you going to let everyone know that he's got to fulfil his promises or lose your vote?

He's as good as we can possibly get.

his record on torture has been terrible.

I find both of these statements to be true.

If that's not one of the freaking saddest things I can imagine, I don't know what is.

I think the Presudent completed his quals to replace Billy Mays after he completes his Presidency. Just short of the 2 for 1 deal mentioned above he had a tax cut or new law or spending objective or debt forgiveness program aimed at everyone in the country. And if we get a jobs bill from the Senate today we'll throw in a free cap snaffler. He threw in enhanced enforcement of pay discrimination because without it he didn't have a promise targetyed to women specifically.

We are cutting taxes, putting a freeze on spending and creating a New Jobs Bill.

A "Jobs Bill" equivalent to one month's spending in Afghanistan. That's where I checked out.

I think the Presudent completed his quals to replace Billy Mays

Yeah, I sure do hope we can get a Republican back in the White House. They never make promises they can't keep.

As always, thank you, Marty, for reminding me that as awful as they get, the Democrats will never be as awful as their opponents.

Longer Marty, after the classic Uncle Kvetch response that it is ok that he dissembles, overpromises and treads at the edge of outright lies because the Republicans are equal or worse politically. That is just every Obama fans way of self justifying their continued fan support of a charlatan:

I think the President completed his quals to replace Billy Mays after he completes his Presidency. He had a tax cut or new law or spending objective or debt forgiveness program aimed at everyone in the country, and if we get a jobs bill from the Senate today we’ll throw in a free cap snaffler, but wait there’s more!!!!!!!!

In an odd place in an awkward speech, he threw in enhanced enforcement of pay discrimination toward the end because, without it, he didn’t have enough promises targeted to women specifically. Earlier he was channeling Howard Dean for a minute as he pointed and listed “I have a (pick your tax cut) for you”. Those tax cuts, of course, being old tired policy of the last ten years until he revives them with new meaning. The only thing he didn’t have was the sense to quit being less than honest about all the deficits and, particularly, the debt he blamed 100% on the last administration. Not only was it irrelevant, at this point, to what solutions he has for it, it borders on (maybe crosses into) a lie.

All that adds up to one more chance lost to move forward on the promise of doing things differently in Washington. He just showed he was getting better at the Washington shuffle.

Massive Fail by my standards

Earlier he was channeling Howard Dean

If only. In my freaking dreams, brah.

"If that's not one of the freaking saddest things I can imagine, I don't know what is."

I do. It's having George Bush and his henchmen back in the White House, still torturing, still expanding their notion of executive prerogative to torture. I think Obama's doing what he can within the constraints that he has. Anyone who believes that he doesn't have to contend with a very darkly renegade national security apparatus, not to mention more obvious Congressional problems, isn't seeing the full picture. I would like to see the torturers brought to justice as much as anyone, but not at the expense of bringing them back into office.

By the way, has anyone noticed that Dawn Johnson and many of Obama's other appointees to positions in government are still waiting to be confirmed? He hasn't figured out how to solve every piece of the puzzle, but I don't doubt his good faith.

Massive Fail by my standards

Sure. 83% of the pop thought the speech was a success according to CBS' poll.

The only thing he didn’t have was the sense to quit being less than honest about all the deficits and, particularly, the debt he blamed 100% on the last administration.

Not entirely the product of the prior administration, but mostly.

That is just every Obama fans way of self justifying their continued fan support of a charlatan:

You have no idea how hilarious that is, Marty. I have never been a "fan" of Obama. I have never expressed, on this blog or any other, an opinion that could be construed as "fandom." In fact, I've been highly critical of him, here and elsewhere. I consider myself a progressive, and there is nothing remotely "progressive" about Barack Obama. I've thought of him as a Clinton redux from the beginning, and nothing in his first year in office has done anything to change that.

And I thought the speech, in terms of its actual content, pretty much sucked.

But like Sapient, I'm still grudgingly thankful he's there, only because the alternatives are infinitely worse. One look at John Boehner's smirking, day-glo orange face last night was the only reminder I needed of that.

And you'll have to forgive me, but I can't help but be amused by your reaction to the fact that a President actually made grandiose, probably untenable promises in -- of all things! -- a State of the Union speech. The faux-naivete is really just too much.

Or maybe your reaction was exactly the same when Bush said he was going to send astronauts to Mars in 2004. You tell me.

BONUS: Tell me "Bush wasn't the right kind of sensible Republican, like Newt Gingrich" in the next 10 minutes, and win a free ginsu knife!

Kind of agree with the good Uncle on that one Marty.

I mean, criticizing a POTUS for promising too much to everyone? Sure, but, like, that's what POTUSes do. All the time. Politicians in general, actually. Especially in speeches like this.

Also: On this site in particular, there are very few Obama "fans" that support him like "fans."

I mean, the Left in general, and this site in particular, is notoriously brutal on Dem politicians - the office of the POTUS in particular.

Are you suggesting that this site, and its commenters, don't routinely harshly criticize Obama? Are you sure?

faux-naivete

You should allow for actual naivete.

Marty just missed the "as awful as they get" part. Either that or he mistook it for glowing praise.

I have a picture of the guy in my living room* and I have been intensely critical of any number of things he's done, not least Afghanistan, just yesterday on the banks.

* The Shepard Fairey poster - as art, because I think it was a spectacular image - not so much as the Portrait of Dear Leader to be saluted every morning... sworn at, maybe.

But the idea that he's a "charlatan" is so hilariously out there that I can hardly give it serious consideration. "Charlatan" is something I would reserve for the kind of President who, say, leads us into a major war based on bogus intelligence and conspiracy theories; who claims to love freedom while ordering the torture of prisoners. You know, that kind of thing.

As for grand promises, at least the things he is promising would actually be good if they were delivered.

We can have a serious discussion here of the rhetorical problems with the speech, and I'd be happy to do it, starting with your observation about the promise of tax cuts for all and big new programs. But you're wasting everyone's time accusing us of being unconditional fans. Yeah, we basically like this President, which is not a crime last time I checked.

On another note entirely, there's a good piece by Anil Dash here comparing the hype over the iPad with the serious discussion of the SOTU. Among my genx-geny friends the iPad certainly garnered a lot more notice; Dash says what I would have wanted to say about it. Although I'd probably be a little less conciliatory: "If you devote 10x as much attention to consumer product launches as you do to the actions of the President of the United States, you are going to get screwed, and I'm not going to have any sympathy for you. The President is not a consumer product."

Marty's role here is to be a pest. Once you accept that, the rest of his driven becomes clear.

drivel, rather

Personally I thought it was the best SOTU speech I've heard in years - certainly since Reagan. And I never agreed with Reagan's policies, but he could give a great speech.
I particularly like the little jabs at everybody. Kind of like a scold with a little 'you can do better'. I have no illusions that it will succeed at changing much, however.


I think drivel is a good description, oh wait, you didn't mean the President huh? He is good, watch over here, see the bad men from Bush, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, watch them not me, I am at least better than them, see what they did, this isn't my problem. Straight out of Oz. He does throw in some nice parent berating the children lines, but I am not sure that's a good way to get other adults to cooperate with you.

Obama accomplished at least one thing with his speech: he caused Marty to speak derisively of tax cuts. That's pretty damn impressive.

--TP

He does throw in some nice parent berating the children lines, but I am not sure that's a good way to get other adults to cooperate with you.

I'm sorry, were there other adults in the room?

I am at least better than them

The absolutely sad, sad state of US politics: Electing Democrats is the worst mistake you could possibly make, other than electing Republicans.

It sucks, but it's true. "Better than Republicans" is admittedly a very, very, very low bar to hurdle, but then, Marty, you actually want the Republicans in power!

Marty...I am not sure that's a good way to get other adults to cooperate with you.

Maybe it's occurred to him that there's not much chance of the other 'adults' cooperating with him. And he's just pointing out the obvious.

I am at least better than them

If ya got it, flaunt it.

"I've thought of him as a Clinton redux from the beginning, and nothing in his first year in office has done anything to change that."

Maybe so.

But that's insulting Bill Clinton, and giving the Short Sale Obama too much credit.

I voted for William Jefferson Clinton -- twice -- and Barack Hussein Obama is no Bill Clinton.

"I particularly like the little jabs at everybody."

A little here and there, OK.

But President Obama punctuated those little jabs throughout his speech, from beginning to end.

I thought, in the end, it made him look small.

Petty.

Not presidential.

More humility was needed.

Less hubris.

Less lecturing.

Candidate Obama wowed us with his speeches, given with a certain authoritative assuredness, if lacking passion. Poetry abounded in this oratory. (That especially stood out after eight years of George W. Bush's mumble-mouth stupidity. But even without this low bar, it was clear the man had a way with the written word.)

President Obama's speeches have not measured up to the standard he set as a campaign phenomenon.

I no longer see the authoritativeness, or assuredness.

Or at least I no longer believe it, which is more important.

It's Obama-by-rote programming. Almost robotic by now. And certainly lacking passion, not to mention leadership. The man is all over the place, wanting to be All Things to All People, instead of fighting for a cause, or causes, an important piece, or pieces, of legislation, and, dammit, pissing some people off in the process if it has to be that way.

The problem with trying to be All Things to All People is you wind up be very little to very many.

It's one thing to lead a movement, as he did in the 2007-08 campaign -- quite another to direct and command good governance.

(And as someone who appreciates the English language -- and that rare person, or politician, who can give voice to it in oratory, a special gift, which Barack Obama certainly proved he possessed not that long ago -- it was disappointing to listen to a 90-minute-plus speech, save the first five or six sentences, lacking poetry, especially when his prose seemed forced and meandering.)

I'm pretty violently anti-Obama, or to be precise anti his policies. However, reading the speech I kept saying to myself "Yeah, that's approximately how I would have put it". He was clearly putting the best face on his policies that he could.

Of course, that doesn't make his policies right. I was especially struck by his citing Ronald Reagan as one of his models. I don't think that this will win over many Republicans and it sends a chill down the spine of almost everybody outside the United States.

I suspect the speech didn't do him many favours. It temporarily appeased hostility among his base and maybe roused a bit of enthusiasm. But under present circumstances, he actually needs something more like introducing the New Deal, and I don't see any sign of that anywhere.

MFB: as a matter of practice, it is probably unwise to juxtapose "violently" with "anti-Obama".

Big Brother probably has undoubtedly captured and brainwashed your proctologist by now.

"I was especially struck by his citing Ronald Reagan as one of his models. I don't think that this will win over many Republicans and it sends a chill down the spine of almost everybody outside the United States."

Actually, President Obama has been giving props to President Reagan for some time now.

Now that he's through with a lackluster first year, ending with a big downsurge in the polls -- just like Reagan's first year -- there has been a good bit of talk about, "Well, look at Reagan: He turned things around -- his polls, the economy -- and eventually won a second term."

Maybe the same will happen for Barack "Ronald Reagan" Obama.

Or maybe not.

I was especially struck by his citing Ronald Reagan as one of his models. I don't think that this will win over many Republicans and it sends a chill down the spine of almost everybody outside the United States.

Maybe. But I suspect that many people outside the US actually listened to what Obama was praising Reagan for, rather than reacting impulsively to a shibboleth.

that's what POTUSes do.

Shouldn't the plural of POTUS be POTI?

Millions of peaches, peaches for me...

The bestest thing that came out of the SOTU address, I think, is Jon Stewart saying about Chris Matthews:

"I swear to God, this guy is one Scotch away from being Ron Burgundy".

Meanwhile, this new Republican governor of Virginia, evoking quite a bit of Jefferson, and finally getting around to quoting Scripture -- amen! -- is looking quite presidential himself, the anti-Jidal.

This new piece of slime said, once again, that "America has the best health care in the world". Another lying sack of slime.

==================

MFB, what policies are you opposed to? Turning around the recession, stopping the murder of 45,000 people a year, what?

===================

btfb, while I'm sad that HAMP hasn't helped you, I heard the other day about a guy whose mortgage payment was cut in half. He was whining because [a] his house would probably never be worth what he paid for it, and [b] he would have a balloon payment at the end of 40 years. I guess he expected HAMP to buy his house for more than he paid for it or something...

btfb, while I'm sad that HAMP hasn't helped you, I heard the other day about a guy whose mortgage payment was cut in half.

While I appreciate the single data point, that guy's experience is atypical. HAMP has not typically worked out as well for the vast majority of people involved.

"HAMP has not typically worked out as well for the vast majority of people involved."

From what I've read, the jury is far from in on the success of HAMP. Eric's comment seems like gratuitous nay-saying this early in the process. I wish people could find the heart to give Obama the benefit of the doubt on some issues.

From what I've read, the jury is far from in on the success of HAMP.

See

here, here and results here 


 

Bottom line: it was a poorly drafted program with far too much industry input. It's not working.

Jeff: I have been on Obama about HAMP for personal reasons -- and because it is just plain policy in that the results have been disastrous.

Have to leave work and pick up my son, so I do not have time to read (or even open, since I know that will delay me from leaving here) Eric's links, although I will later tonight or tomorrow.

By any objective measure, the HAMP program isn't just a dud, but it has been a disgrace, as I have said many times.

The money set aside -- which, as usual, the big banks are just sitting on -- is enormous, and the miniscule amount of mortgages that have actually been mortified is pitiful.

There are numerous reasons for this -- the banks have no incentive to comply with the program, the folks who are administering it (even after nearly a year) don't know what they are doing, and, from personal experience, over the course of many, many months, I found many of them to be just plain incompetent.

And rude.

And lacking compassion or empathy, qualities you might think they'd find useful administering such a program.

Some Wells Fargo employees I have dealt with -- even (especially) further up the corporate food chain than the run-of-the-mill customer-service rep -- have even been deceitful.

And as I see it, the Obama White House is sanctioning this deceit.

I find it almost criminal, and definitely corrupt.

The further I into this never-ending, head-spinning process, and kept banging my head against the wall, I began to wonder if I was the only person in America experiencing such frustration and anger.

It did not take much research, thanks to the Google, to see I was hardly alone -- and to learn many folks have experienced far worse than I.

When I read the predicaments of homeowners who actually qualified for the program -- albeit on a trial basis; it starts as a trial basis and, then, basically you have to re-qualify all over again -- and figured they were on the way to becoming whole, only to be foreclosed on WHILE THEIR MODIFICATION REQUESTS WERE STILL UNDERWAY, WHILE THEY WERE MAKING THE RESTRUCTURED PAYMENTS THAT HAD BEEN NEGOTIATED IN GOOD FAITH, I was thunderstruck.

After that, my frustrations paled and I hardly felt like calling my state's Deputy Attorney General in Beau Biden's office -- advice I had received from an underlink in Joe Biden's old office, from a very helpful young woman who has assisted me on different stuff the past three years, mostly INS problems I had run into with my wife and visa issues that arose with my Russian mother-in-law.

Ironically, my "friend" (we've gotten to know each other on a first-name basis) in Biden's (old) office (Ted Kaufman's now) is being foreclosed on herself, she painfully told me. What a country!

It's the economy, stupid.

It took a whole f---in year for Barack Obama to understand that.

Sadly, it seems, he needed the Scott Brown wakeup call to gauge populist anger, not to mention real hurt the middle class is feeling. (And what about the lower class? The poor? They never even get a mention these days, or so it seems).

"Jobs, jobs, jobs" should have been the Great Obama's first-year mantra.

And then, along the way, as a former community organizer himself, he may have taken note of the foreclosure crisis, a word that is overused these days -- but it is a crisis.

Now I am late.

"The bestest thing that came out of the SOTU address, I think, is Jon Stewart saying about Chris Matthews:

"'I swear to God, this guy is one Scotch away from being Ron Burgundy.'"

Thank you, Slarti.

I found that quite humorous and enjoyed an lol moment, at the end of a long, and bad, work week (the good news is, I get to the punch the clock Saturday -- and, this week, Sunday, since it's the 31st and our owner could care less about whether we have families and home lives) before I went on my little rant.

You know, one thing President Obama has failed to grasp and, therefore, put into words in his empty State of the Union address was how this Great Recession -- how the loss of jobs, and wages, and homes -- have taken its toll on families, husbands and wives, children, on a very personal level, on a level that is more humble and hurtful than, I am afraid, this president just cannot lead us past.

Forget the 10 percent unemployment.

Or the record numbers of foreclosures and bankruptcies; so for, I have, narrowly, avoided the first, not the second, under his watch.

Forget the statistics.

I'm talking -- he did not -- about the stuff that the statistics do not measure.

I'm talking about how the loss of a job or the loss of your home -- or, in my case, the ever-present threat the past year of losing one's home -- the loss of earning power, painful and threatening and humiliatating stuff, produces so much stress and strain day after day, week after week, month after month on a man, or woman, and their home, their family, their marriage.

Statistics don't measure that stuff.

But when you live it, you feel it every freaking day.

It ain't pretty. It wounds most of whatever pride you have left.

If you are used to being the breadwinner -- a good, reliable breadwinner -- and, all of the sudden, you are not, well, I don't know how to explain it. But it makes you feel less whole, less of a man, less of what you were and what you hope to be.

You dream less.

You wonder what went wrong.

You wonder what YOU did wrong.

You hurt.

You know your wife and child deserve better, better than the man who comes home tired and penniless and angry and frustrated.

You don't like what you have become.

You just don't.

And at a certain point, you want to quit.

You want it to end.

You want something more, because you want them to have something more.

It's bad enough that you can't provide the way you once did.

But then you shut down.

You wind up closing off those who are closest to you.

You become something you thought you'd never become, because you thought you would always be better than that, stronger than that, maybe not tougher than the man that raised you, but at least wiser.

And you aren't.

And I haven't seen mention of it here, but is there any doubt the winner of the SOTU Asshole was the Supreme Court's Samuel Alito and his mouthing, "No that is wrong," as the President of the United States.

So much for judicial restraint.

So much for being apolitical.

Arrogant asshole.

And you aren't.

Hey bedtime, I think I speak for many here when I say that none, or at least very few, of us measure up to what we wish we were.

Sh*t happens, and you deal. You're doing your best dude, nobody can ask for more.

Take care and hang in there.

To add a moment of levity:

I just got back from doing a grocery shopping run for my wife. I was standing in line and saw the following headline on the cover of one of the tabloids:

"Obama's secret drunken parties! Conga lines! Pricey booze! Imported beef!"

Imported beef?!?

It made me laugh out loud right in the checkout line.

I always thought it would be fun to be a copy writer for the National Enquirer or the Globe or some similar tabloid. They're so over the top that you could just kind of have fun with it.

Maybe we could have an open thread where we could all craft our own personal version of the tabloid headline we'd most like to see.

Hang in, bedtime.

is there any doubt the winner of the SOTU Asshole was the Supreme Court's Samuel Alito and his mouthing

What the heck were they thinking when they started letting the Italians in?

;)

I disagree with BTFB's response to Alito. The President stood in front of them and questioned the legal basis for the decision, "100 years of legal precedent" simply wasn't true. As apolitical as I expect them to be, Obama was so far out of line the reaction should be excused. His reaction certainly wasn't political.

Marty, that's not what the president said. He said "With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests –- including foreign corporations –- to spend without limit in our elections." He wasn't talking about decisional law he was talking about legislative efforts to limit the power of corporations in elections, specifically since the Tilman Act of 1907.
Not sure why it's out of line to propose to Congress that they look at the ruling and try to do something to mitigate its impact - that's the President's job.

Trying to grasp why that was so far out of line myself. Reagan in SOTU addresses critiqued court rulings like Roe. But that was cool. This? Not so much. Or something.

BTFB: My first job out of law school was in corporate M&A and securities work. I was making a boatload of cash, and was putting my younger brother through law school.

A month and a day after 9/11, I was laid off because of the loss of so many of our dot.com clients - which made up my portfolio - as well as a general work slow down.

Suffice to say, at the time, there weren't a lot of firms hiring, especially someone with such a thin resume. I would have better luck getting hired right out of law school with the grades I had. But as a 1.5 year associate, I was in a weird unhirable limbo.

I was on unemployment until it ran out - eventually catching a break, but not until a long stretch of misery.

Anyway, just wanted to say that I can relate to your frustration, self-doubt, and alienation from people close to you. As corny and pro forma as it sounds, really, the best advice is just to keep moving forward, saying thank you for all that is good in your life and try to give yourself a break.

Think of the advice you would give to your child or your best friend if they were in a similar situation, and then give it to yourself. And take it.

Well, lets try again, he accused them of doing something they didn't do and there was a minor reaction and Alito is accused of being an "a**hole". I don't see me as being the one stretching here.

Marty, but he didn't accuse them of something they didn't do. That's the point. What he said was this: they "reversed a century of law." Which is true.

You said that Obama making this point was "so far out of line." When in reality, it is quite tame compared to prior presidential critiques of Sup Ct decisions in SOTU speeches.

That said, the particular phrasing from BTFB was over the top IMHO.

For the record, I thought Alito was actually reacting to the claim about foreign corporations being able to enter the fray.

But YMMV

His reaction certainly wasn't political.

Marty, I'm one of those who believe that even Justices of the Supreme Court have free speech rights. And I have thought for a long time that the protocols surrounding the State of the Union speech have become a bit too pompous and rigid. So I'm not too worked up about Alito visibly expressing his disagreement with Obama in the august and hallowed House chamber.

But to say that Alito's reaction was not "political" is to imply that it was something else. "Personal", perhaps? It certainly was not "judicial".

The whole idea that Justices are apolitical depends crucially on the pretense that when they put on the black robes they cease to be individuals with personal or political preferences. While wearing the robes, they maintain a stony silence about everything but the case directly before them. They let their written opinions do their talking for them. Their written opinions are infallible because they are final. But "final" doesn't mean much if they keep talking.

Alito, the person, can disagree with Obama's view of the Court's ruling all he wants. Alito, the robed Justice, chips away at the judicial facade when he is seen to even take notice of a politician's disagreement with his infallible ruling. But it's HIS judicial facade at stake, so who am I to offer him advice on how best to maintain it?

--TP

No, they didn't reverse a century of law, thats really a stretch. They did clarify a Constitutional question. The sharpness of the Presidents criticism was out of line, my opinion. The sharpness of the criticism of Alito is even beyond that.

"What the heck were they thinking when they started letting the Italians in?"

Yeah, Janie, paisan, first Scalia, now Alito, can we at least get an Italian-American on the Supreme Court that will make us proud.

Obviously, I agree with the points Sapient and Eric made.

Barack Obama may be President of the United States, the nation's leader. But it is a political position and almost everything he does can be viewed through a political lense.

Judges bring life experience and all the rest to the job, but, in theory, when they judge, they are supposed to be objective.

At the very least, the appearance of objectivity -- of being apolitical -- is essential.

While much of President Obama's speech was political by nature, and design, the State of the Union is a centuries-old tradition where the Joint Chiefs, the Cabinet, the entire Congress, of course, and the Supreme Court, rarely seen in such a public forum, all gather to project the country's strength and togetherness.

Maybe much of it is phony.

But I think Alito, as a judge in the most important court in the land whose presence was meant to be ceremonial, showed both bad form and bad judgement.

I thought it told us something about the man.

No, they didn't reverse a century of law, thats really a stretch.

Not really, considering century old laws were overturned. Do you care to clarify this?

The sharpness of the Presidents criticism was out of line, my opinion.

What was sharp about it? Honestly, it didn't seem to have any rough edges at all. He mentioned the precedent overturned (it did overturn precedent, at least we can agree on that, even if you don't agree with the stated duration of the precedent, right?). And then he predicted consequences that are all not only viable, but expected.

Why "sharp"?

Thank you, Eric and Big Russ.

" . . . alienation from people close to you . . ."

I hate my tendency to withdraw when depressed or despairing, even more so since I am aware of it.

I hated it when my late father did it, and now I hate it when I do it, not an endearing personal trait.

Right now, aside from the usual bullshit and pressures, a lot of mystifying politics that are leaving me baffled and a bit in the dust are going on at work, and that prompted me to go home last night in a stressed and unpleasant mood.

I can only say my wife, who sent me a sweet text at lunchtime today, has admirable patience and a really good, strong heart and I am lucky to have her. (They really are our better halves.)

Also, in trying to make a larger point, I got to reflecting and writing quite personally, which, I guess, can be either ill-advised or effective, and not really somewhere in between.

I hate my tendency to withdraw when depressed or despairing, even more so since I am aware of it.

I hated it when my late father did it, and now I hate it when I do it, not an endearing personal trait.

I have a strikingly similar story. Heh.

I can only say my wife, who sent me a sweet text at lunchtime today, has admirable patience and a really good, strong heart and I am lucky to have her.

Corny as it sounds, saying thank you for what you have in your life is a very powerful mantra. I do it daily if I can remember to. It helps when the negatives mount.

"What was sharp about it?"

Words and tone. If I conceded the stretch on facts, the tone used was very Obama.

But I will say that people who like Obama don't seem to be put off by the way he talks down to everyone, even Supreme Court Justices.

Talk down to? Really? How?

Expand on "words and tone"

Eric, can't link too well from the phone but if you Google Obama Supreme Court there are plenty of explanations from scotusblog.com to cbsnews. Also some that agree with you, but thy get the drift, I am sure I didn't really need to explain anyway.

But I will say that people who like Obama don't seem to be put off by the way he talks down to everyone, even Supreme Court Justices.

It's so sad. There was a time when people like him knew their place.

Uppity, huh?

"But I will say that people who like Obama don't seem to be put off by the way he talks down to everyone, even Supreme Court Justices."

Now wait a minute. I vote for President Obama, and am not enamored with him or his first-year record, and have been quite critical.

But I am all for him speaking his mind about the Supreme Court -- better talk down to them than me.

---

"I have a strikingly similar story."

As I get older, I am constantly struck by some of the little things I do, or not so little, perhaps (stubborness, impatience), that remind me of my father even though I was never compared to him when he was alive, unlike my middle brother (I am the oldest) who was the proverbial "chip of the old block," even going into the same profession as my dad (sounds just like him, too).

Open thread, right?

What's bred in the bone will out in the flesh. What you make of that is up to you, but good luck trying to escape it.

If nothing else, experiencing some of your parent's behaviors from the inside can give you some insight into where they were coming from.

No doubt some of your parent's positive traits are in you as well.

"No doubt some of your parent's positive traits are in you as well."

Indeed.

"Uppity, huh?"

I was pleased that Mickey Edwards said it better here which also addresses your tiresome Reagan comparisons. Some of us have been around long enough to remember how it was, not just quote from speeches in the archives. From the cite:

Every year, the President would come to our house--The House--because the Constitution required that he report to us. There was pomp, to be sure, but the President had not come down to scold and lecture his subordinates; he came because he had to report in. The Constitution also instructed him to suggest laws he might think appropriate; it was up to the Congress to decide whether to do anything about those suggestions. On the occasion of those annual visits, partisan divides having been with us even then, presidential commentary was greeted in various ways, cheers from some, moans and groans and laughter (at, not with) from others. It had never crossed our minds that it was somehow inappropriate for one of us in the audience to whisper to a colleague that the President's observations did not comport with our own understanding of the facts.

Also:

This is not a column about Barack Obama. There has developed over time, in the White House (regardless of who is President), among members of the press, and even, inexplicably, among some members of Congress, a belief that (a) whoever is President is thereby the head of government, rather than the head of one of three co-equal branches, and (b) that one must not express dismay, surprise, or disagreement with his remarks, even in near-silent whispers, whilst the eminent leader speaks. What next: robes of ermine, bowing as he enters the room?

I am sure talking down doesn't begin or end with President Obama, it is just who is doing it today.

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