Free Markets, Free People


SOTU Reaction

I’m going to use Taegan Goddard’s reaction at CQ Politics as a basis for mine and to show how two people can watch the same thing and react like they hadn’t:

President Obama spent more than an hour making arguments he should have been making for months. He forcefully reminded Americans that he was not responsible for the big problems he inherited. He desperately needed to remind people the historical context and he did it successfully.

Did he really? He’s been saying this stuff for a year now and I’m pretty sure the world is aware of his opinion on the subject. Whether or not he again “successfully” placed it in a “historical context” is a matter of opinion, but what isn’t a matter of opinion is he’s had a year to work on jobs and the economy and he’s screwed around with health care instead.

Interestingly, it was like a campaign speech designed to appeal to independents. Obama refused to be pulled into the traditional left vs. right polarization that plagues Washington, D.C. It’s what got him elected in the first place.

He was right in the middle of the “traditional left vs. right polarization”. He was lecturing Republicans during most of the speech. And he even got into the populist side of things with his attacks on banks and corporations. Hell, he even went after the Supreme Court and threw a shot across the bow of the Joint Chiefs.

There were also several political moments you might see again in this fall’s midterm campaigns. The video of Republicans sitting on their hands while Obama called for banks to pay back bailout funds will almost certainly come back to haunt them.

This is the inside the beltway mentality speaking. That particular video will mean zip to those who see it. Jobs, economic turnaround, prosperity – attacking banks isn’t going to bring any of those.

While everyone knew the president would focus on jobs and the economy, it was nonetheless shocking it took him nearly 40 minutes to get to health care reform. Just weeks ago, it was the most important issue on his agenda. Obama made his case once again but it’s far from clear whether Democrats are scared enough or feel the urgency to ignore the confused politics of the issue and pass the bill.

For the 30th time in a year he talked about health care. What part of “we don’t want what you’re selling” do you suppose he doesn’t get? It isn’t that they aren’t conveying the message properly – it’s the message itself that’s being rejected along with a procedure that includes such absurdities as “sidecar reconciliation”, bribes and closed door meetings. Get a freaking clue.

It was a decent speech, but not a great one.

In fact it was an outstanding speech as far as speeches go, but what does it mean. This is a president who has given more outstanding speeches than any since Reagan. The difference is, things happened after Reagan spoke. Nothing happens after Obama speaks. So while the rhetoric was defiant, pointed, and lofty, it was all “just words”.

President’s get kudos for words. They are remembered for deeds. And thus far, Obama is very light in the deed department.

~McQ

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42 Responses to SOTU Reaction

  • I only saw a few minutes of the speech, but when I returned to hear that old stuff about “schoolyard games” I figured he didn’t need me.
    The fact that he keeps using this “schoolyard games” line make me believe that he wasn’t much liked by his schoolmates.

    And talk about dropping “Don’t Ask ..” opens up a whole set of problems that don’t have to be addressed with “Don’t Ask ..”
    For instance, this basically sez that gay can be more open .. well, how much more open ?
    Some of our Islamic friends (assuming there are any) might not appreciate openly gay Americans, with or without stripes.
    “Don’t Ask” set this level as not at all. Let’s see if Obama et al can define levels of being “openly gay”.

    • Hey, maybe we can have all gay battalions like the spartan Sacred Band of Thebes and have them specifically fight against Islamic fantics.  The Islamics would crap themselves.  Two problems solved with one solution

    • The DADT sop was thrown out to draw conservatives fire and allow him to say in a few months, “See, it is those hateful bigots who blindly oppose all of my agenda!”    I think  (I hope) people have become too politically savvy to fall for that trope.

  • When Aeschines spoke, they said, ‘How well he speaks’, but when Demosthenes spoke, they said ‘Let us march.’

  • “The video of Republicans sitting on their hands while Obama called for banks to pay back bailout funds will almost certainly come back to haunt them.”

    Lets see the banks this guy is talking about fall into 3 categories.

    a.  Those that didnt take bailout funds

    b.  Those that took bailout funds either willingly or unwillingly and paid them back with interest.

    c.    Those that took bailout funds either willingly or unwillingly and  havent paid them back yet.

    Why is it that liberals see fit to try to get money out of A or B to pay back bailout funds  when they either didnt take bailout funds or took bailout funds and paid them back with interest?
    Dems love to talk about fairness. How is that fair to group A or B above?
     

    • I have said the same thing about the Democrats leaping to their feet to applaud that nothing had been done to fix Social Security 2 or 3 years ago for Bush’s SOTU.  So far that has yielded nothing, but there is still time.

  • I actually forgot the speech was last night, so I didn’t see it.   On health care Obama took on the richest and most powerful lobbies, tried to co-opt some of them, and got farther than most people thought he could.  The US is really in the grip of a big business/big government nexus.  Big business is probably the most anti-capitalist force, wanting to use government to protect their interests, and needing to be bought off if meaningful reform is going to take place.  Obama is up against that, as well as bad economic conditions.   For a first year, he got a lot done, in part by being willing to push his agenda despite political costs — that’s leadership.  But part of his job is to sell the policy and communicate, and he hasn’t done that enough.  He has focused on policy and the ‘inside game’ and neglected real communication.  Obama stopped campaigning to focus on governing, but his opponents stayed in campaign mode.  He now has to better communicate his ideas, and actively seek bi-partisanship.  Overall, the GOP is over-optimistic if they think Obama is  dead.   Much of the negative ratings on Obama come from the left, angry that he is so pragmatic and willing to compromise.   They aren’t going to swing GOP, however.   Independents might, provided the GOP doesn’t screw things up by embracing the  tea party fringe.

    • I agree with you about the big government/big business nexus.  I’m willing to bet we totally disagree on how to address it.  The left seems to think that growing government will break big business.  It won’t.  They have their hands too deep in the regulatory and legislative apparatus already.  The way to kill the nexus is by shrinking government in order to keep big business from using it as a weapon to stifle competition.
      As for the rest, I honestly think we live on parallel realities or something.  Obama has communicated a lot, but he is not driving policy or showing leadership.  In foreign policy he has been either tone deaf or hesitant.  Despite all the talk, healthcare reform very obviously is being run by Congress not the White House.

      • Health care reform has to come from the Congress, the White House cannot lead on that — institutionally it’s impossible.  Even President Bush had to consistently use reconciliation to get big issues passed, even while he had a majority he was beholden to Congress on domestic issues.   Nonetheless, Obama did exercise the most pressure possible and got health care reform (for better or worse) farther along than Clinton did, and perhaps the furthest possible — that was impressive.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens next.

        My own view on shrinking the big government-big business nexus is that the problem is the size of the country, and its embrace of a super power role.   Only a real shift of power (and revenue) to the states, and a withdrawal from trying to be a kind of global cop intervening all over the world, will create conditions where you can really alter the situation.  Growing government won’t break big business — the health care reform showed the only way to even get something close to passing is to do it in a way friendly to those with clout.    Sometimes I think it’s a clever ruse — the right cheers big business and attacks government, the left cheers government and attacks business, and behind the scenes the leaders of each are sitting laughing at how we are so caught up in the spectacle we don’t see the reality.

        • “Health care reform has to come from the Congress, the White House cannot lead on that — institutionally it’s impossible.”

          That’s just made up B.S., Scott.

          Obama made the same mistake on health care reform that Bush made on Social Security reform: punting to the Congress. Everyone knows that.

          He also made the same mistake the Clintons made, which was to put all of his political capital on medical care reform.

          The Clintons came up with a Stalinist health care system from the White House, and almost got it passed. Obama let the huge majority Democrats in Congress come up with their own Stalinist healh care system and it was even worse than the one the Clintons came up with.

          This guy isn’t a “leader,” he’s a destructive imbecile.

        • Obama’s leadership problem on health care was that while he did twist arms for the final votes, he did next to nothing to lead the process to formulate the legislation.
          Some will claim that this was because of HiliaryCare, which was already in legislative form when it arrived on Capitol Hill, showed this method was wrong.  On the other hand, during the process, there was Democratic Congressman after Congressman openly expressing frustration that the White House wouldn’t lead by indicating what direction to take.  Had Obama showed a little more leadership, this legislation may have already been signed before Ted Kennedy past on.
          Given the legislative history of this round of health care reform, it seems pretty clear that Obama went the “stealth legislation” route, even reneging on his “C-SPAN” promise, to maintain the amorphous form of “his plan” that to this date remains a real unknown.

          • An example …

            Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said health care reform “is on life support, unfortunately,” and the president should have been more specific with how Democrats should move forward.
            “He should have been more clear, and I am hoping that in the next week or two he will because that is what it is going to take if it is at all possible to get it done,” Landrieu told reporters. “Mailing in general suggestions, sending them over the transom, is not necessarily going to work.”

            Obviously, for Obama “lead” is a 4-letter word

        • Ok. I will give you a little bit of credit here. You are correct to some extent in saying that our size and superpower status causes big government, and it’s corollary which is crony capitalism.
          I would be happy to lower our commitments abroad. But that is not going to happen, and neither party embraces it.
          But Jeff is correct in saying that the best way to deal with it is to reign in the sort of things government can do, especially the central government.  And we can indeed reign it in somewhat.  If there is a will to do it.
          Remember that most of the abuses of big business, unfair competition, monopoly power, subsidized competition, these things cannot exist in market competition, they only exist because of government.

          • I can agree with most of what you say, Kyle, though neither party really wants smaller central government either.  I am 100% for shifting power and revenues to the states.   Unfair competition, monopoly power, and the like may not exist in a perfect market, but they can exist when there is no regulation.  Markets aren’t magic, absent rule of law and efforts to regulate markets, powerful actors will find away to circumvent markets.    Where the state ceases to exist or function, organized crime tends to file the void.  So I think it’s more complicated than just “limiting government” and letting markets work.

        • My own view on shrinking the big government-big business nexus is that the problem is the size of the country, and its embrace of a super power role.
          To some extent this is true, we aren’t going to shrink military spending by fighting wars.  But when you crunch the numbers, most federal government spending is social not military.  For that matter over-regulation of industry is not a function of being a superpower, it is a function of thinking that more government and more government regulation is the answer to every crisis no matter how minor.

    • On health care Obama took on the richest and most powerful lobbies, tried to co-opt some of them, and got farther than most people thought he could

      >>>> Boy, now you’re moving the goalposts backwards to try to praise the guy. Just the other day you were telling us how successful he was! Now it’s everybody gets a trophy day with you.

      Get your story straight. You never stick to your narrative for more than 2 minutes at a clip.

    • On health care Obama took on the richest and most powerful lobbies, tried to co-opt some of them, and got farther than most people thought he could.

      I’d be far more impressed if those same lobbies hadn’t given more to Dems than to Republicans, or if the biggest lobby – Trial Lawyers – were one he was willing to tackle.  You think tort reform is ignored for any reason other than “the biggest donor for the Dems doesn’t like it”?

      ig business is probably the most anti-capitalist force, wanting to use government to protect their interests, and needing to be bought off if meaningful reform is going to take place.  Obama is up against that, as well as bad economic conditions

      Up against that?  Buddy, he’s an instigator of that.  What do you think these mountains of subsidies for “green” BS is?  Capitalist?  You keep using that word, but I don’t think it means what you think it means.

      For a first year, he got a lot done, in part by being willing to push his agenda despite political costs — that’s leadership.

      Name five things he promised to do and has.  Bonus points if you manage to find a way to count DADT.

      But part of his job is to sell the policy and communicate, and he hasn’t done that enough.  He has focused on policy and the ‘inside game’ and neglected real communication.  Obama stopped campaigning to focus on governing, but his opponents stayed in campaign mode.

      The man has given more pressers and briefings and speeches in a year than Clinton did in his first 4.  The man does nothing BUT communicate.  He has tossed everything onto congress, and then blames Republicans (who are in the minority) when Pelosi and Reid can’t get things done.
      Reminds me of a line from Dilbert…  “What a bunch of leadership”.

      They aren’t going to swing GOP, however.   Independents might, provided the GOP doesn’t screw things up by embracing the  tea party fringe.

      That’s right…  Just pretend that the MA special Election never happened…

      • It can easily be said that “big business” is not for “open markets” but to not call that “capitalist” is a stretch.

      • Scott Brown ran a positive campaign, rejected ‘tea party’ fringe rhetoric, and behaved as one would expect a New England Republican to behave.  If  I were in Massachusetts, I’d have been tempted to vote for him, in part to force more efforts at bi-partisanship.   He even talked up the Massachusetts health care plan, and supported the need for some kind of health care reform.   If anything, this is a sign that positive GOP messages that avoid angry name calling and rhetoric can do very well.

        • He used tea party rhetoric, Scott. He was supported by the tea party movement. He just didn’t invite the movement into his campaign.

          His campaign was positive in the sense that he positively rejected the health care bill that was on the verge of passing the Senate and declared himself the 41st vote against it.

          He rejected Obama’s spending and called for tax cuts. He rejected cap and trade. He rejected Obama’s handling of terrorists.

          Yes, very positive.

    • Erb: “For a first year, he got a lot done, in part by being willing to push his agenda despite political costs — that’s leadership.”

      Good god. “For a first year?” Inversion of political reality. “For a first year?” That’s the big year. The honeymoon year, and what, exactly constitutes “getting a lot done?” In his first few weeks he managed an urban looting that was misnamed a “stimulus.” Then he went around the world demeaning the U.S. while the domestic agenda became that scandalous health care push that angered so many people that Obama has lost independent voters.

      “But part of his job is to sell the policy and communicate, and he hasn’t done that enough.  He has focused on policy and the ‘inside game’ and neglected real communication.”

      Delusional. The guy never shuts up. He “focused on policy?” But didn’t try to sell it? He was omnipresent, not only trying to sell his crappy policy, but attacking Fox News and Tea Party participants and having his proxies go out and accuse everyone who criticized him of racism in an effort to silence opposition.

      I gotta tell you, Scott, you sound like you’ve been getting teabagged by Obama.

      • Erb: “For a first year, he got a lot done, in part by being willing to push his agenda despite political costs — that’s leadership.”

        For a 1st year Pres. in his honeymoon period with SUPERMAJORITIES in congress, he got sh*t done and you know it.

        What did he do besides Porkulus?

        List these accomplishments. Go.

  • I only listened for about 20 minutes.  One thing that struck me is that after a full year, he did not seem to have anything to say about what had been accomplished.  Perhaps he mentioned that in the larger portion of the speech that I did not hear, but the part I heard was mostly about how bad things are, how he had nothing to do with it, and how he plans to fix it.  The latter part was a lot of campaign promises.  We’ll do this, we’ll do that, we’ll work together to accomplish this.

    If that was the tone of the whole speech, then it will probably flop with the public.  Was there anything he was able to point to as a ‘mission accomplished?’  Or was it 90 minutes of blame and campaign promises?

    • He took credit for the “stimulus” saying it had “saved or created” 2 million jobs.
      I think this matches up with one of the three Administration spokespeople that appeared on the Sunday gabfests.

  •  The delivery was certainly better than what we have had for the last eight years, but the substance is a different story. More of a campaign speech than anything else; promises, promises, all costing money. So much for freezing discretionary spending or reducing the deficit. Then there were the Carteresque remarks about “malaise’, aka distrust of government/Washington, and the American people will get the government they deserve. And a lot of negativity; big bad bankers, lobbyists, Republicans, and other things that go bump in the night. Actually, though, the speech was a lobbyist’s delight; all sorts of new programs and spending for them to go after.

    • Dear me, I forgot to list ‘the previous administration’ among the bogeymen. But then, that is like forgetting to list breathing as one of my daily activities.

  • Hey, Obama has been quick to action.
    Already this morning, he can proudly announce that Congress has banned foreign corporations from running election ads.
    (The fact that this was true before his speech is of no consequence)

  • If he really wanted to work with the opposition, insulting and antagonizing them is not the right way to go about it. He may have had lots of experience as a community organizer, getting folks of different opinions to work together towards a common goal, but he couldn’t have been a very good one.

    • He may have had lots of experience as a community organizer, getting folks of different opinions to work together towards a common goal, but he couldn’t have been a very good one.

      What diverse opinion are you talking about? The only opinion he worked with was that it was okay to be a redistributive parasite regardless of consequences.

       

  • The video of Republicans sitting on their hands while Obama called for banks to pay back bailout funds will almost certainly come back to haunt them.

    The refusal to accept the payments offered should come back to haunt the Dems. I guess he missed that being reported in the LapDog media.

  • Ummm…does he mean the crisis he inherited from the Democrat majority in Congress?

    • Yeah, I think about that every time he talks about “inheriting” the problems. The Dems had leadership in both the House and Senate since 2006 and Obama was a voting part of that. Shouldn’t the fact that Obama voted in favor of of the very policies he’s complaining about be news?

      • Isn’t it sad that the MSM and the Dems can get away with this? They know that lots of voters will forget that Obama was in the majority during 2006-2008.

    • If I’m not mistaken, it was President Obama who signed the 2009 budget, which was held up in congress in order to keep Bush from getting his hands on it.

  • To listen to what Obama has to say is to already misunderstand him.
    1. He wants you to know him by his words because, (a) you are not allowed to know about him, and (b) his deeds are incoherent within the normative context of American politics.
    2. He has taken out an extended lease on blame shifting. That’s a key element of who he is. He’s blaming his predecessor and his opponents and the Tea Party movement and Fox News now. But all Leftists eventually blame the people themselves, something foreshadowed in the attack on the Tea Party movement and town hall protestors.
    3. His interest in the United States is marginal, except as he sees its rapid and steep decline as necessary and desirable. The lateral meaning of that will be to bring Americans into much closer dependency on the state, even as the state has less and less to offer. The goal is to eviscerate American exceptionalism and replace American dynamism with a Third World socialist model. This will be explained in the aftermath as “historical necessity” by Leftist intellectuals.
    4. The November elections will not solve anything because Obama does more damage in a week than an unintentionally incompetent chief executive could do in an entire term. The November elections come too late in the game; Obama is well aware of that. He will lock in imponderable damage before then.
    5. In other words, to say that Obama is incompetent is to miss the point. The damage he inflicts on the United States with each passing day is intentional. That goes to my earlier point that Obama cannot be understood within the normative terms of American politics.
    6. The greatest worry? There are three: Economic implosion, the national security apparatus, and the growing of the bureaucratic infrastructure.
    7. Trying to characterize Obama as “not getting the message” is to misunderstand him and to not get his message, which can be summarized pretty well in the American vernacular: “Get F****d.”

  • Shorter Imeme – send the bucks to George Bush.

     

  • Too funny … watch till the end

  • This is the heck w hen one is always on the spotlight: for the democrats, the applaud is great affirming what the Obama tried to present in his sotu; for the republican is there with a “let us  see attitude”; for those who are merely spactators, Obama is no good at all. What more shall we say aside from all these???? This is a political game wherein some cannot understand the game based on the normative U.S. political system.