Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Blogging the State of the Union Address
As I write, BHO is giving his first state of the union address, a mere week after his party lost a Senate seat that had been the private property of the Kennedy family since 1952.
As everbody knows, there are three things he might do in this speech:
1.) Signal a move toward the center, a la Bill Clinton.
2.) Signal a move toward the parts of the hard-left program that are not unpopular, namely, bashing, throttling, and expropriating banks and large corporations. In a democracy, the wealthy are never popular.
3.) Blame Bush.
I expect him to talk about himself a lot (see above). [Later: someone later claimed he used the word "I" 96 times in the SOTU.]
Later: Here are my notes:
Five minutes in: he is doing the feel-your-pain thing about the people who are being hammered by the ongoing recession/depression. I also note that he doesn't have that half-smile that seems to be habitual with him, and he is avoiding that looking-down-his-nose-at-you expression he sometimes has.
Eleven minutes in: That was quick. Now he he is smirking and joking again.
Thirteen minutes: This is already turning into a campaign speech. The stimulus bill "saved" two million jobs. [So there are two million events that didn't happen, but would have if he hadn't done whatever he did. No explanation as to how he knows this.]
He calls for a new "jobs bill," something he should have done a year ago.
He just looked down his nose at me. I hate it when he does that.
He also proposed giving the TARP money that he got from the banks and give it back to banks to loan to small businesses.
Also: abolishing the capital gains tax for small businesses. The Republicans cheer.
Slashing "tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas" and give them to ones that don't.
He just blamed Bush for the first time, talking about how the boom of the last decade was based on a housing boom and speculation [which is basically true, of course].
Now he has called for "safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country" and offshore oil drilling. I missed seeing if the Repubs cheered that one.
Now he's on to global warming again, claiming that "clean energy" will lead to leadership of the global economy. [How does that work?]
Somehow, he is going to double our exports over the next five years. He is going to "seek new markets aggressively," presumably meaning expanding free trade agreements. [At least I hope that's what he means.]
Education: "rewarding success" rather than failure. [No details are offered there.] Federal aid to community colleges and federally subsidized student loans. [Okay, I know what that means.]
Yikes! He just called for forgiving student loans for people who "go into public service," ie., get a government job. [That is one of the stupidest ideas I've ever heard. Government is the only sector of employment that is expanding. Government workers are paid much more than the rest of us already. Why in the name of all that is holy should we further reward people for joining this priviledged class of exploiters?]
Damage control over the health care bill debacle. He takes some of the blame: he should have explained it better. [Yes, that was part of the problem. What he said about the bill made little sense. But there were huge problems of substance as well.]
He just blamed Bush for most of the staggering federal deficit.
A three year government spending freeze: except for defense, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security excepted. [Except for that? What percent of the real federal budget is left? It also sounds like it will have to kick in after the next "stimulus" spendapalooza.]
He just bashed Bush for the third time: "that's what we did for eight years!"
He wants congress to publish earmark requests on a web page.
Now he is complaining about politicians who criticize other politicians too much. [Gee, I wonder who he thinks is being criticized too much.]
He just accused the Repubs of "just saying no to everything."
He promised to meet monthly with Republicans [that would be a big change versus his past behavior].
[Wow, is this ever boring! He has gone on for almost an hour. How much more of this can I take? I'm simply amazed, once again, to think of all the people who say he is a thrilling orator. We must be from different planets.]
Troops out of Iraq by August. [That would be nice, but we know how good he is at meeting deadlines.]
He pledges to repeal the ban on gays in the military. [That too would be nice, but he has made that promise before.]
He will "secure all nuclear weapons in four years, so that they never fall into the hands of terrorists." [Wow, how is he going to perform that miracle? He doesn't say.]
Equal pay for women. Enforcing immigration laws.
[Oh God. Now it's over an hour he's talked. How long oh Lord, how long?]
He ends with a discussion of his political setbacks. He seems to be saying that he is not going to change his policies to be popular.
[Omigod! Omigodomigodomigod! I am so glad this is over! If I ever watch an entire speech by this boremeister again, they will have to pry my eyes open with lidlocks and put in moisturizing drops like Alex in the ludovico technique! Aaaaaaa! Stop it stop it please I beg you! It's not fair!]
Bottom line: To some extent, he did some combination of 1, 2, and 3 (see above). Which was most important? Actually, given that he reaffirmed support for health care and cap and trade, and even at one point seemed to be scolding the Supreme Court -- to its face! -- for letting "the most powerful interests" control elections,* he also seemed to be doing something that was neither 1, 2, nor 3 but to a considerable extent -- nothing! That is, no change. Most commentators assumed that what he needed to do in this speech was give a clear picture of what his regime is going to be all about after the Massachusetts humiliation, that he has to provide focus. If that is so, it was a complete failure. Or, perhaps, he does not think he needs focus or clarity.
Update: See also this.