Your Thoughts?

I assume all you political junkies watched the State of the Union address?  (I felt compelled to because I’m teaching my Presidency course this term, and I’ll be damned if I get caught out by one of my students.)  So what do you think?

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About J@m3z Aitch

J@m3z Aitch is a two-bit college professor who'd rather be canoeing.
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15 Responses to Your Thoughts?

  1. James K says:

    I think your country would be a better place if your Presidents followed the example of Coolidge instead of Wilson.

  2. Jeremy Sell says:

    I’m cynical by nature and despite rhetoric I never expect much change. Still, I can’t help but get caught up in Obama’s unbridled optimism. Although I have a lot of issues with his administration, I think his positions are generally in line with my own. That’s why, despite my concerns, I’ll vote for him again.

    There was an obvious difference in tone between the president’s speech and Mitch Daniels’ response. It’s kind of funny to see Republicans now talking about how America is in trouble, and making out like we’re not the greatest country in the world. A few years ago, they were crucifying Democrats for saying similar things. For some reason, a Democrat declaring “Mitch Daniels is un-American!” doesn’t fly.

  3. I didn’t like it. I can’t put my finger on why, exactly. I’m not a big fan of the “we killed bin Laden” appeals, and although I have no problems with a person who’s never served in the military being the commander in chief of the military (disclosure: I never served either), I cringed when Mr. Obama started talking about how, when you’re in the midst of battle, you succeed or lose based on the strength of your unit. It might all be true, it just seemed unbecoming to me.

  4. James Hanley says:

    It’s kind of funny to see Republicans now talking about how America is in trouble, and making out like we’re not the greatest country in the world. A few years ago, they were crucifying Democrats for saying similar things.
    And we can go back years with that. Carter was ripped for saying America was in a malaise, and Reagan won on a platform of “it’s morning in America.” Maybe we can just start writing about Mitch “Carter” Daniels and Barack “Reagan” America.

    I cringed when Mr. Obama started talking about how, when you’re in the midst of battle, you succeed or lose based on the strength of your unit.
    “Cringe” was exactly my response. I think this was one of those cases where Obama’s tendency toward a moralistic lecturing tone really comes off badly, precisely because he hasn’t really been there. (And of course his demand for “unity” elides the fundamental difference between a team that executes policies on command and a purposely diverse group that creates policy.)

    For my part I was struck by the absolutely dominating emphasis on the economy (which was surely an electoral, not governing, decision), the lack of discussion about Social Security and health care, and the reiteration of “I will sign an executive order…”, which is a (probably smart) effort to show that he’s a take-charge leader who’s committed to getting things done even if Congress is not, but which to me re-emphasizes the degree to which the U.S. has shifted to executive governance.

    Oh, and I did get a kick out of watching John Boehner looking like it was a torture to be there, and reluctantly clapping every time Obama revealed his right-of-center governing philosophy.

  5. I’m also a bit miffed that Mr. Obama didn’t give a shout-out to one of my senators, Mark Kirk, who suffered a severe stroke this past weekend. (There was a brief 90 or so second moment when I switched channels just to see what else was one, so if Mr. Obama did mention Kirk, I might have missed it.)

  6. James Hanley says:

    Kirk is a Republican holding Obama’s former seat in a Senate with a slim Democratic majority, and you expect Obama to wish him a speedy recovery? *grin*

  7. Dr X says:

    I’m a bit surprised he didn’t mention Kirk. Mightn’t that have fit well with his position that he’s the magnanimous one?

  8. Dr X says:

    that was supposed to be magnanimous, bipartisan one.

  9. Michael Heath says:

    James Hanley writes:

    . . . I did get a kick out of watching John Boehner looking like it was a torture to be there, and reluctantly clapping every time Obama revealed his right-of-center governing philosophy.

    Watching John Boehner get interviewed a few times it becomes vividly clear he has no desire or ability to actually understand the economic issues being debated. He’s even expressed awe at Obama’s literacy on economics where I’m confident Obama couldn’t currently pass 100 level classes (he obviously could excel if he took them, it’s clear he doesn’t possess that level of cognizance though he does learn). Boehner’s essentially a non-functional manager managing functions that are beyond him. These sorts of people can be successful, Speaker Nancy Pelosi was very successful in spite of being almost totally ignorant on most issues (like Reagan, saved by her emotional intelligence). She sure saved President Bush’s presidency from being a being 1 out of 10 disaster where her help at the end fighting the financial crisis resulted in a presidency I score as a 3 of 10 (a highly subjective assessment by me). In Speaker Boehner’s case I think his skills and desire are consistent with Speaker Pelosi’s, it’s just that he’s got a mostly incompetent bunch of obstructionists bent on ideological dominance regardless of the cost, as if they even knew the cost. Though Mr. Boehner hangs with a crowd which misinforms him on matters of reality and policy, a failure we should therefore have us assessing some blame on his shoulders.

    From this perspective I think Speaker Boehner and the President could have gotten along as famously and productively as President Reagan and Speaker Tip O’Neill, if only Boehner’s conference (caucus) mostly considered their constituency as all their districts’ members along with the country’s rather than a far narrower set.

    James Hanley writes:

    For my part I was struck by the absolutely dominating emphasis on the economy (which was surely an electoral, not governing, decision), the lack of discussion about Social Security and health care, and the reiteration of “I will sign an executive order…”, which is a (probably smart) effort to show that he’s a take-charge leader who’s committed to getting things done even if Congress is not, but which to me re-emphasizes the degree to which the U.S. has shifted to executive governance.

    The president did note immediately after that point that his effectiveness is limited without a Congress willing to work with him. Given the degree of obstructionism we’re getting from modern-day GOP members of Congress, I think there’s a strong political argument to be made for the president focusing on what he can do without Congress. Especially since the items where he wants to lead are very popular with the public at large.

    I did find it ironic that a Democratic president argues for an end to the filibuster on presidential appointment nominations only a few short years after the roles were reversed. While I realize time is limited, he could have at least offered a rationalization on why the head of the party has flip-flopped on this issue. There is a case to be made that Republicans have taken an already mutated rule and used it as tool that has many now calling Republicans infantile nihilists, but Obama instead blithely hops over the fence with no defense at all.

    My own thoughts on this speech are in development. I did like this rebuttal to Andrew Sullivan’s blog post liking Mitch Daniels’ counter to the SOTU, it’s the dissent with the header, A lengthy Daniels dissent.. In many ways Obama’s plethora of tax tweak proposals were similar to those which had me respectfully disagreeing with President Clinton’s approach, which I recognized even back then that though I might disagree with Clinton, far worse were being offered as an alternative; where the difference in quality now is far bigger.

  10. Michael Heath says:

    Forgot the afore-mentioned link: http://goo.gl/hTFNZ

  11. AMW says:

    I never watch SOTU addresses. But I was shocked to find out that my Fox News grokking father thought it was a good speech. That came totally out of left field.

  12. Michael Heath says:

    AMW writes:

    I never watch SOTU addresses. But I was shocked to find out that my Fox News grokking father thought it was a good speech. That came totally out of left field.

    I think most people are reasonable. I think the reason we have such contentious unproductive debates is predominately due to some groups of advocates using a defective set of premises within a defective framing. The president typically makes strong arguments, even if one disagrees with his prescriptives, it’s a respectable argument worthy of consideration. That’s why his opponents and their followers mostly avoid his actual behavior and arguments, especially because their own arguments are based on horrible framing and mostly false premises.

    What Fox News is so effective at doing is creating a narrative that avoids the necessary framework and premises needed to make a strong argument. I think people are attracted to these defective arguments and misrepresentation of ‘the other’s’ arguments because tribal identification is powerful and less work than becoming an informed citizen whose worked through the best arguments. Especially when doing so forces one to either abandon the group they identify with, work for reform by honestly taking on the weaknesses of one’s tribe, or suffer from cognitive dissonance.

  13. Kirk is a Republican holding Obama’s former seat in a Senate with a slim Democratic majority, and you expect Obama to wish him a speedy recovery? *grin*

    Touche’

  14. James Hanley says:

    Michael wrote:
    I did find it ironic that a Democratic president argues for an end to the filibuster on presidential appointment nominations only a few short years after the roles were reversed.

    And thus it will ever be–next time it will be a Republican prez dressing down a Democratic Senate. What amused me about it was just the concept of the Executive branch telling the Legislative branch how to run its own business. Obviously it was a statement meant to score political points, not meant as a serious policy proposal, but it still got a laugh from me (fortunately for Obama, I’m not representative of his target audience).

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