President Obama is a great communicator. He proved it again in last night's SOTU speech. Transcript here. He knows how to command an audiences's attention. Obama does something else very well....he speaks the truth. He's not duplicitous. People may not agree with him, but he doesn't lie. That's refreshing after the last administration, however, in today's political shredding machine, honesty isn't going to matter much when it comes to solving America's problems.
The President correctly outlined what he inherited from the previous Republican administration.....a one trillion dollar deficit, an 8 trillion dollar national debt and job losses of 700,000 per month. He also explained carefully and correctly what the Recovery Act has accomplished.....2 million jobs saved or created, a national depression-crisis averted.
Obama told the nation he would not "walk away" from health care reform and challenged Congress to "get it done." He announced a new "jobs" program, suggesting tax credits for small business hiring using $30 billion from repaid TARP monies. Obama called for the elimination of capital gains taxes on small businesses. The President spoke of more infrastructure job creation, mentioned high-speed rail projects, clean energy jobs, eliminating tax breaks for corporations who outsource U.S. jobs....urging the Senate, on several occasions, to follow the lead of the House.
Obama told Americans that "it's time to get serious" about financial regulatory reform. He spoke of solar energy, advanced batteries, new nuclear power plants (to GOP applause), "tough decisions on offshore drilling" (more GOP applause), bio-fuels, clean coal.
The President called for comprehensive climate legislation (no GOP applause) and immigration reform. Obama reviewed what he's done in escalating the Afghanistan conflict while ending the Iraq mistake. He promised to end "don't ask, don't tell" this year in conjunction with military leaders.
Virtually everything Barack Obama mentioned last night was accurate, his recognition of America's problems were clear-headed, his ideas timely and thoughtful.
What Obama did not tell us last night was how it is that he will get his initiatives passed through Congress. He warned elected officials and Villager media to quit making everyday "election day." He told Republicans, specifically, that there was no reason to block every vote, obstruct every initiative, "just because you can."
Obama warned Democrats not to "run for the hills," at the first sign of a fight. The President chastised the Supreme Court saying, "I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, foreign entities."
To Republicans, Obama said this...."if the Republican leadership is going to insist (they are) that 60 votes in the Senate are required to do any business at all in this town....then the responsibility to govern is now yours, as well (it won't be)."
I don't understand what that meant. Republicans didn't take responsibility for governing when they were in the majority, why would they take responsibility for governing while in the minority?
And along these lines is where I part ways with what the President had to say last night. Yes, everything Obama said last night was true....his vision for a brighter America, clear....his ideas, his agenda, organized and comprehensible. But the best Obama can do to move policy and agenda forward is to "challenge" obstructionistic Republicans. There was no "big stick" approach.....perhaps there can't be a "big stick" approach any longer when a Democrat is president....I'm not sure.
One snapshot-moment from last night's SOTU address, I think, captured what's wrong with our political process. As Obama was outlining his accomplishments from 2009, he singled out his tax cuts on working families. He repeated the phrase, "we cut taxes", several times for effect, and then looked at Republicans and said ...."I thought I'd get applause on that one."
There in one quick exchange is the problem. Republicans, who only really have one domestic policy...cutting taxes.....will never work with, nor appreciate, a Democratic president's leadership even when that leadership is advocating GOP policies. Republicans learned during their Clinton bashing years that the way to stop a popular Democratic president is to attack, attack, attack....even when the reasons for attacking are completely manufactured. The GOP only has one default position if a Democrat is in the White House......bring about that Democratic president's "Waterloo." Republicans truly are "the party of No." Republicans still want Obama "to fail", even if it means disagreeing with, and fighting, him even when he seeks to pass boilerplate conservative policy.
Last night's SOTU was yet another oratorical masterpiece by the talented Democratic president. And even though Obama proposed several conservative ideas, I couldn't disagree with or object to his overall presentation. The problem is....none of it matters...not really.
2010 will be a repeat of 2009. Village media will continue to join with Republicans in magnifying every trivial bit of nonsense, every conservative, Tea Party, Limbaughian, lie or diversion. Republican stonewalling will intensify, not diminish. It will be more important than ever for Republicans to stop every attempt at change by Obama in 2010......as they look to trick voters into handing them back the House this November.
The State of our Union.....as far as our federal elected officials and our corporate media is concerned, as far as our federal government's capability to confront the nation's most threatening problems.....is hopelessly broken.
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