Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The State of the Union Address

Watch entire video of the State of the Union HERE!

Our take on the Address after the jump!

The Janitor's Take:
About a week ago, with the economy in the crapper, the health care bill facing sudden death, and the Obama Administration against the ropes like Ali vs. Forman, I posted here calling out the President on what I dubbed "Gut Check Time" meaning, in other words, it was time for him to either man up or get knocked out. I outlined specific items that needed to be addressed, ranging from his lack of controlling the message on the Health Care Bill from jump street, to his lack of controlling the message on the economy, national security, and other hot-button issues. After tonight's speech, I'm almost convinced that somebody on the President's staff reads The Urban Politico because I'll be damned if he didn't go down every single item on my list and check them off (with authority I might add) during this Address. Every time this guy is backed into a corner, he reminds us of why he won the presidency of the United States. His ability to summarize the current condition of things and put it in a context that we can all understand is uncanny. After a year's worth of frenzied protesters, news media pundits and frustrated town hall meetings spouting off equal amounts of misinformation and venom, Obama set the record straight on everything in one night. What's more, he did so in a forceful way without appearing defensive. He reminded folks that there was an 8 trillion dollar deficit in the U.S. before he even "walked in the door" and let that fact sink in for a while. And he reminded EVERYBODY that they are responsible to the American people to get things done: he called out the Republicans; he called out the Democrats; he called out the Senate; and, looking them straight in the eye, he even called out the Supreme Court of the United States (somebody please check the record books and tell me if that's EVER been done before?!?!). I mean this dude was taking no prisoners. He reminded Americans that he has not raised anybody taxes, a fact that has been blatantly distorted over the past year by some critics. He also apologized for not getting out in front of the Health Care Bill and explaining it to the American people from day 1. He talked about the Economy and about jobs, and gave a forceful "we don't quit. I don't quit!" at the end just in case you weren't paying attention. Plus (and this is my own personal observation) he, for the first time, didn't have those long Obama-pauses in his speech pattern that just make you wanna say "good God man, spit it out already!" So he must have been working on that. And I think the takeaway from the night was the message to Congress to cut the partisan "I win, you lose" bullshit and get to work. That's my 2 cents.

Lady Z's Take:
After a few nervous weeks, where a Republican won Ted Kennedy's Senate seat in the very blue state of MA and dreams of health care reform seemed to die for good, I approached the State of the Union with cautious optimism.
By now we all know President Obama can give a good speech. The narrative goes something like this: Republicans lie and attack, Congressional Democrats recoil in the corner, Obama's approval ratings drop, Sarah Palin posts some stupid s**t on her facebook page, pundits decry Obama's style of leadership and question his toughness, Obama makes a stellar speech, then those same pundits proclaim he made their leg tingle and he has saved the day!! Then we start all over again from the beginning all the while forgetting that we are having a deja vu.
I mean am I the only one who remembers this picture from the campaign trail?

Do you remember WHY this picture was made? It was because everyone was freaking out and saying Obama wasn't tough enough. Then he hit his convention speech out of the park talkin' about John McCain going into caves. Win Obama.
What was different with last night was that for the first time I was pretty worried about the substance of Obama's speech. I knew he was going to inspire me (The guy has that effect on folks. There is no way I would've moved all the way down to Virginia to sleep under my desk in a campaign office if I wasn't inspired.) but I wanted him to fight back against all of the bullcrap out there. I wanted him to call folks out!
If you saw the speech, then you know that HE CALLED FOLKS OUT!
My favorite parts in order:
1) Obama to SCOTUS: You suck.
I think this will go down as one of my favorite political moments of all time. Justice Alito needs to stop shaking his head and doing his best Joe Wilson impersonation.
Fool you are only on the Supreme Court because Bush picked Harriet Miers BEFORE you. That's right, you were the sloppy seconds for HARRIET MIERS. Obama FTW.

2) Republicans can't even applaud tax cuts!
Note: Remember this moment because you will be seeing it again and again this fall. This single clip of the Minority Leader and Whip NOT applauding for tax cuts for 95% of Americans will be in every single commercial for Democrats running this fall.

3) Obama: I hated the bank bailout too!
This was one of those moments that is sure to please independent voters.

4) Obama clears a few things up with regards to health care reform.
He doesn't tell the House to pass the Senate bill so much as he just tells the Dems to man/woman up!

5) Obama decries cynicism and I admit a tear formed in my eye.
The big finish and a reminder of why we all supported this man in the first place.

The Fed's Take:
(I hate to start off like this...) But call me a cynic...
I expect the Republican's to dig in their heels, and their supporters to pick about what was said in the SOTU speech. It reminds me of a pompous boss, when you try to talk and reason with him, despite what your saying is true, his "pride" won't allow him to accept it, and play nice, and work together on a solution. Instead, he bristles and says "How dare you talk to me like that!!!!" And storms out of the room. That's what I fully expect!!! In part because we have become TOO political over the past couple of decades. Full Disclosure: I'm guilty of this myself. As I listened to Va's Gov. McDonnell, I couldn't help but roll my eyes and think how full of shit he was...
In my opinion, Obama has successfully pissed off both the right and the left. Even on our own blog, which admittedly leans to the left, we have criticised him. So I'm not getting this concrete resistance from the right to EVERYTHING that Obama says. Last night, I felt there were plenty of moments where EVERYONE stood up and applauded. But he tried to keep it right down the middle. He attacked the left, the right, and the middle (in a perfect world, the middle would be the SCOTUS...but I will write about them in the following days...)
He acknowledge that he should have communicated better, stated that both right AND left policies are good for jobs (small business tax cuts, jobs bill), good for the environment (of shore drilling, clean coal, cap and trade), and the budget (spending freeze - after we fix the economy...because "That's how budgeting works."
If (and only if) we are honest, we can say that of course Obama is a left leaning president, he came from the Democratic party. But it is CLEAR, at least in rhetoric, that he is putting forth the olive branch toward the right to work together. I am "hopeful" that they can put party lines behind them, and actually work together, but I doubt it. Apparently "Perfect is the Enemy of Good" when it comes to passing laws. If it isn't EXACTLY how one side of the other wants it, then NO part can be supported. That isn't how negotiations work!!! You ask for 10 things, and agree on 6, and move on!!! But it appears that if the right doesn't get ALL 10, then they become "The Party of 'NO!'"
My favorite part?: "And if the Republican leadership is going to insist that 60 votes in the Senate are required to do any business at all in this town -- a supermajority -- then the responsibility to govern is now yours as well. Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it's not leadership. We were sent here to serve our citizens, not our ambitions. So let's show the American people that we can do it together.
So, now we wait!
After a speech like this, regardless of my party affiliation, I would at least TRY to work with the president. Try to move towards better, not perfect, but better policies to make our country better. But, I'm not in office...
All-in-all...Well done Mr. President, the ball is now in their court!
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