Free Markets, Free People

The State Of The Union Address

An address that has become popularly known on blogs and Twitter as the SOTU. In the case of the one scheduled for tonight, some think it should be abbreviated as the STFU address, but then there are always some who’d prefer silence to the usual nonsense that takes place at the Capitol.

So what will we hear tonight? Well as we get closer, more and more is leaking out. One thing that leaked earlier than the rest is the spending freeze we’ve written about. 25 billion a year for three years. Make sure you listen for what the president talks about spending tonight to balance it against that huge spending freeze. As mentioned, we do many more times that amount of deficit spending each month. If that is the sum of his plan for addressing the deficit, he’s not at all serious about it.

The NY Times has an interesting paragraph in their preview of the SOTU.

When Mr. Obama presents his first State of the Union address on Wednesday evening, aides said he would accept responsibility, though not necessarily blame, for failing to deliver swiftly on some of the changes he promised a year ago. But he will not, aides said, accede to criticism that his priorities are out of step with the nation’s.

First, he will accept the “responsibility” but not necessarily the “blame”? How’s that work? If you’re responsible for something and it doesn’t get done, who else is to blame? Another in a long line of indicators that this guy is not a leader. One of the first things any company commander makes clear to a new platoon leader is the platoon leader is responsible for everything that does or doesn’t happen in his platoon. And that platoon leader knows exactly who the company commander will blame. The same is going to happen here. Obama may decide he’s not going to accept blame, but he’s really not the final arbiter on that, is he?

However, if that’s the Obama game plan, it will be interesting to hear to whom or what he tries to shift the blame. Bush, of course, is in for a round of finger pointing (perhaps more obliquely than usual, but I’m sure it will be there). One thing to remember when he begins that is the Congress – the branch of government that appropriates and spends money as well as making laws (and regulations) – has been in Democratic hands for the last 4 years.

I’d bet he’ll also set his sights on blaming “obstructionist” Republicans. Of course to buy into the “obstructionist” argument you have to again be ignorant of the fact that Democrats have enjoyed overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress to include, until recently, a super-majority in the Senate. So it is unclear who he can credibly blame, other than himself, for not passing his agenda items except, perhaps, the leadership of the Congress. And we all know how that would be received.

Then there’s the sentence that Obama refuses to “accede to criticism that his priorities are out of step with the nation’s”. Pure arrogance. Pure hubris. Poll after poll have made it clear the majority of Americans do not want this monstrosity of a health care bill specifically and in general they want government’s size and expenditures reigned in. And the sooner the better.

Obama and his team still haven’t recognized the fact that the entire political landscape changed with the financial crisis. He seems to think if he gives that crisis enough lip service while proceeding with an agenda ancillary to it, he can still do the agenda. No. Not true. All one has to do is read the Pew survey I posted yesterday to understand where the public’s attention is and where the public wants government’s attention focused. Almost without exception it’s the economy and jobs. All the rest is simply not important. The bunch in DC better figure it out and do so quickly or, as has been promised, they’ll get someone who will – beginning this year with the mid-terms.

So in effect, doubling down on an ineffective and unpopular decision doesn’t make one a strong leader. Instead, in the face of what those who put him in office want him to focus on, it makes him seem more of a petulant and stubborn adolescent who refuses to change because the adults want him too.

Consider this:

As Mr. Obama navigates a crossroads of his presidency, a moment when he signals what lessons he has drawn from his first year in office, the public posture of the White House is that any shortcomings are the result of failing to explain effectively what they were doing — and why. He will acknowledge making mistakes in pursuit of his agenda, aides said, but will not toss the agenda overboard in search of a more popular one.

That’s incredible. It is the very same fallback Democrats took when they lost the presidency in 2000. It wasn’t the message, it just wasn’t properly conveyed. For them it is never the message, even after poll after poll tells them it is. The man gave almost 30 speeches on health care and the public still has said – repeatedly – “no”. What part of “no” doesn’t he and the Democats understand? Which again brings us to the last sentence and the petulance I describe above. It also points to a man who has yet to understand what I pointed out previously – the political landscape has irrevocably changed since he introduced that agenda on the campaign trail. In politics those who can’t adapt “die” electorally – and that is precisely where he and the Democrats are headed.

Finally, it gives lie to the contention that Obama is a pragmatist. If what the NYT is claiming is true, he’s the very antithesis of a pragmatic politician. He’s a dyed-in-the-wool ideologue who will not give up his ideological agenda regardless of the hand reality deals him. And that sort of ideological intransigence will cost him politically. While I can admire those who try to live their ideology, I don’t particularly care for those who try to force it on others. And that’s precisely what he is attempting here.

I’m sure there will be some surprises tonight. I’m interested to hear his “pivot” toward jobs and the economy.  And I’m sure the speech will be eloquent. But we’re over the awe of his eloquence. It’s means zip anymore. Those 30 eloquent speeches on health care delivered what? Nothing.  Even though I’m quite happy about that, it makes the point that he’s all speech and no action. He is “just words”.

Speaking of words, I’m trying to get an idea of what the over/under is on how many times he’ll say “I”, “me” or “my” tonight. This is the first SOTU for the most self-absorbed president in my lifetime and I can’t help but believe the count will be high.



13 Responses to The State Of The Union Address

  • So what will we hear tonight?


  • If it’s true that he will accept responsibility but not blame, then I would assume that he will not be very subtle in assigning blame to others.  Bush will certainly get the usual treatment (“the past eight years“) as will Republicans in congress and the unnamed critics (“they said“).  But I think he may take some jabs at his own party, and I think the most interesting thing will be just how much blame he assigns to them, and how pointed he will be in his criticism.
    I think that there’s also a chance that he’ll spend too much time on assigning blame, which might provide a very unfortunate focal point for analysis afterwards.  If he intends to double down on his agenda, then he’ll need to make that the basis of his speech.  If he spends all night talking about blame and very little time talking about his agenda and his responsibility, he will be massacred in the polls later this week.

  • With ‘The One’, shouldn’t it be the STFU speech?

  • I bet we hear “I” and “my” or variations of the usual Imeme greatness through self reference no less than 75 times tonight.  I’m sure he can tell us something folksie about his childhood or some trip he’s made that will take up at 18 of the 75 I’m counting on.
    And eloquence?  I’ve yet to see it, maybe because it’s so deeply buried in what I’m just going to call lies dressed as promises and blame shifting.  Sorry, my general perception of the significant  differences between my President and the President of Venezuela?  Geographic location and physical height.

  • I will not be in situ for sotu.  Got better things to do, like wash my hair, play with my cat, take a dump, so a crossword.

  • Phrases to count …

    “I”, “my” or “me”
    “change isn’t easy” or  “change”
    “middle class”
    “let me be clear”
    “make no mistake”
    “health care”
    “Democratic leadership” or “Congressional leadership”
    “fighting for you”
    “big business” or “Wall Street”
    “Bush” or “inherited”
    “bipartisan” or “bipartisanship”
    “economic stimulus package”
    winks and/ or points at Michelle
    a reference to his faith getting him through tough times
    a touching heartfelt story of some poor unfortunate denied health care
    either the Vice President or the Speaker of the House gets caught napping on camera

  • If Obama really got the messages he should have received over the last few months, he would be giving a speech along these lines:

    Fellow Americans, after one year in office, I’ve learned some valuable lessons. You can expect a different track and a different tone in the next three years.

    For now, I have decided to lay aside the twin concerns of healthcare reform and climate change legislation, also known as cap-and-trade. While I still believe these are critical to our long term health as a nation, they each have major difficulties in passage. Healthcare reform has become too complex, with a bill that contains far too much politics as usual, including measures that can only be considered trading federal money for the votes of legislators. In the environmental arena, recent revelations concerning the state of the science of climate change have increased the uncertainty of dispassionate observers. It is not apparent that the urgency we believed in for the last year is still present, and other countries have failed to unite with us to attack this problem.

    Therefore, I will turn my attention to the core well-being of this nation – it’s economic health. We took serious measures to forestall great economic trevails, and those were successful. However, the measures designed to stimulate the economy and create jobs to replaces those lost in the chaos have not done as much as we hoped. The great engine of job creation in this country, small business, has been fearful and reluctant to expand. We have to reassure them and move forward.

    Part of the reason to suspend work on healthcare and environmental legislation is to remove sources of uncertainty that are haunting these businesspeople. We need to do more. We need to revisit various types of regulation to see what can be removed without serious impact to society.

    However, no measures we bring to bear will have much impact on job creation and economic growth as long as our entire society is buried under crushing and increasing debt. We think the increased debt of the stimulus and the other depression-fighting measures were necessary, but it’s time to turn to other ways to balance the books.

    I am tonight announcing a massive program to cut spending. I have discussed a freeze on spending that covered a portion of the federal budget, but it’s now clear to me that a much more serious effort is needed. I will be requesting across the board cuts from all the departments I administrate. I will be presenting bills to Congress to cut or eliminate spending that should have been cut long ago, such as corporate welfare.

    I genuinely thank the voters of Massachusetts for helping me understand the radical changes in strategy that were needed. You, the American people, elected me on a platform of hope and change. I must confess that some of the changes have reduced your hope, and that means reconsideration, re-evaluation, and some radical changes in direction for the coming year. Given better decision making on our part coupled with the natural resilence and hard work of the American people, I am confident that we will see progress that we can all be proud of in the next year.

  • McQFirst, he will accept the “responsibility” but not necessarily the “blame”? How’s that work?

    Ask Janet Reno.

    McQIt wasn’t the message, it just wasn’t properly conveyed. For them it is never the message, even after poll after poll tells them it is.

    Saying that the message wasn’t properly conveyed is just a polite way of saying, “the public was too stupid to understand when we tried to explain it too them.” Occasionally, a lib will slip and say this explicitly, as when Andrea Mitchell lamented that the public opposed the health care takeover because they just didn’t know how fabulous it would be for them.

    TonusIf he spends all night talking about blame and very little time talking about his agenda and his responsibility, he will be massacred in the polls later this week.

    Perhaps not.  It seems to me that Imeme is at his (ahem) best when he’s campaigning, and that requires a healthy dollop of finger pointing and rabble rousing.  Consider that part of his eroded poll numbers is due to disaffection among his own base, who are disappointed that he hasn’t passed health care, closed Gitmo, thrown Bush into prison, etc.  If he tosses them some red meat in the form of blaming Bush, the GOP, Wall Street, Big Oil, and the other usual lib suspects and promises to get them, he’ll probably get a bump.  I doubt that it will last, but this clown doesn’t seem capable of thinking much past next week or even care very much: he’s all about how he looks TODAY.  Anyway, no matter what he says, I expect MiniTru to gush about how eloquent he is, what a great speechmaker he is, etc, etc: the usual pap to cover up for the fact that he never actually says ANYTHING.

  • The buck slows down here.

  • AS further evidence that up is down in the liberal worldview, Obam is hailed as a deliberate and thoughtful pragamatist by the same people who accused Bush of being stubborn and unyielding.  Also, the idiots at the Huffington Post have proposed a drinkng game where you drink every time Obama says things like “let me be clear” “health care” etc.  They conspicuously leave out “I”, “Me” and “My”.  Obviously, having a drink whenever he says those three words would get you shitfaced.

  • There is something within the elected/chattering left that just can not comprehend: I’ve listened to your arguments, and I disagree with your conclusions.
    They are, after all, the vanguard of the people…