Wednesday, January 26, 2011

SOTU In Summary

Two words really come to mind: flat and mindnumbing. I know by now the conventional wisdom is solidifying and fossilizing before the morning news tomorrow. He has made some fantastic speeches in the past, this was not one of them my friends. It drifted quite a bit even if it did stay with the recurring "win the future" theme. Which coincidentally was the title of a Newt Gingrich book, well it's called Winning The Future....close enough.

In many ways this speech came off as the first of the 2012 campaign, and before the last person left Statuary Hall predictably the boys over at OFA had their fundraising gears cranked up. He spoke a lot of investment, basically alluding that much is accomplished ONLY with the help of government. The whole Sputnik moment thing that he brought up. He should know that the entire Apollo program cost only 1/7th of his ginormous craptastic stimulus bill that accomplished zero. Costs aside, effective limited government is what the people want, they ran to the mountaintops and screamed that down to everyone in November's elections. Spending willy-nilly until we reach a circumstance like all of western Europe and their painful austerity measures, is something that we agree cannot happen. The time to grab onto the third rail of politics (entitlements) is here. The problem is that you have a President and a party deathly afraid of addressing such things. A party that identifies success in terms of how big can we make this program, how much can we spend on it. No regards for how efficient or how many people will it help, the primary interest is the level of increase in size and scope of government.

So with that constant underlying theme of wanting more government "investment", how can that be reconciled with the results of the November elections? The elections told you to stop the profligate spending Mr. President. The elections asked you to take a step back and think of the ramifications of such government largesse. And what have you returned with? You have basically ignored the deficit commissions recommendations on entitlement reform. At the end of the day entitlement reform will only happen if the President proposes it first. If he is serious about deficit reduction, which is questionable, he will do something about it now. Republicans controlling one chamber of Congress can only get so much done on this front and it is something they have learned from the Gingrich years. It is near impossible to accomplish anything unless the President is a willing participant, and that was with both chambers under Republican control. Freezing spending is all well and good, but freezing it at the current levels that you have brought it up to (25% increase since 2009) will not accomplish much at reducing a damn thing. It's basic math.

I think Paul Ryan's response was pointed and hit on ALL of the themes that American voters took with them to the ballot box in November. When you get the unenviable task of responding to the SOTU regardless of party it is not always to get noticed. You don't have the applause lines or the great setting of a joint session so it's a tough gig. I have included the link here to check out the full ten minutes of the speech.

All that being said I was glad President Obama didn't resort to the cheap shots, like he did last year regarding the SCOTUS' Citizens United decision, or any rank partisan hackery that has been his calling card the last two years. I guess this is part of the new Obama with Daley running the message. Then again he does have an election to win in 22 months, now is the time to go back into the Hope and Change® well. I sure "hope" America doesn't fall for that shtick again.


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