Thursday, January 28, 2010

SOTU Thoughts
What could be more useless than a blog post about the State of the Union speech some 16+ hours after it's over? I mean, it's already been tweeted, live-blogged, insta-polled, focus-grouped, spun and re-spun, analyzed, fact-checked (even the fact-checks have been fact-checked), and deconstructed. Not only has a consensus emerged as to its quality, but I think I smell a backlash already building over the consensus view. By later today, everything we thought we knew about the speech will already be wrong, and by tomorrow, everyone will have completely forgotten about the address altogether - as if it never happened. Such is our reaction cycle, I guess. So, with absolutely nothing possibly new to offer, I nonetheless give you my random thoughts and questions, which have been rummaging around in my head since last night without bothering to turn into an actual coherent idea. In no particular order:

*When Obama lectures Congress on civility, bipartisanship, and their civic duty, I still get the distinct impression that he really does believe all the stuff he's saying. This insistence makes him a great man, and a powerful candidate but probably left him undressed as an actual President during his first year. Will he continue to govern astride this noble - but perhaps fatally flawed - belief?

*I don't remember the Supreme Court ever taking a direct challenge from the podium before. I don't know if they were uncomfortable when a majority all around them rose up to condemn the 5 who brought us Citizens United but I imagine they were.

*I wonder which will be the first President to include something like a PowerPoint presentation with the SOTU? Just a matter of time, right? I generally hate the idea, and love the straight speech, but we *are* trying to actually get across some important thoughts. A helpful chart here and there might communicate more than some people are getting from complete sentences.

*Maybe watching some of Jobs' iPad announcement is what makes me think of that.

*I wish there could be follow-up reminders in the weeks and months following the speech. It seems like a whole year before anyone reminded Americans that the majority of our huge debt was incurred during the last administration, and the part we added this year was just an effort to clean up that catastrophe. He did a great job I though laying out the story, and explaining how he's going to recover the 1 trillion this year has added. But in a week, nobody will remember that. The White House needs to say where we are over and over and over.

*Loved his full-throated defense of the American Recovery Act.

*and his reminder of the stakes of health care reform. Not sure why everyone is down on his putting it in the middle of speech. With unemployment numbers so high and every right-wing and Perotesque indie freaking out over and hammering the deficit all the sudden, it's hard for the winnable middle to be convinced that health care reform is related, much less more important. We've been talking about it for months; I don't mind not giving it top billing.

*Why do the freakout faction liberals think that if he had just said directly: "the Senate should promise to pass the fixes and the House should pass the bill"?? Why would that make it more likely to happen? I thought he was plenty forceful on the issue. Just get it done. Pass the damn bill. Audience he cares about doesn't care about process.

*He had better deliver on the don't ask don't tell promise. This year. Whatever it takes. Notice he's willing to step in and take executive action on a budget deficit commission where the Senate failed. He should be no less willing to stand up for gays and lesbians. It's not even marriage, for heaven's sake.

*Best line of the night was reminding who's in a solid majority and admonishing Dems not to "run for the hills."

*Was left wishing he had really gone after the Senate for its hold rules, keeping appointments and the confirmation process from happening when one Senator objects. He mentioned it, and I thought he was going to pound them for what is essentially the most outrageous, offensive undemocratic procedural hurdle imaginable. Much worse even than the filibuster. But for some reason he didn't press. Why?? If the American people really understood that a single Senator can put a stop to Presidential appointments - like to head Transportation Safety, which still is leaderless - with absolutely no reason and essentially anonymously, they would be outraged. Why do we not exploit this? And name names?

*Something tangible needs to happen soon to build any momentum from positive response to speech. Maybe, oh I dunno this could be a pipedream, but maybe the Senate could get around to, you know, passing something. Anything.

That's all I got. What did you think?

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