26 Jan 2011

That State of the Union Address

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Barack Obama’s 2011 SOTU address text.

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Jeff Goldstein provides a handy glossary of Obamaspeak:

1. “Investment” = “government spending”
2. “civility” = “now shut up, you bitter-clinging racists. …
3. “competition” = “See? I’m all for capitalism, provided I can control the outcome, and get mine in return. So, for instance, it’s cool with me if, say, GE gets rich breaking into the Chinese market, provided they know who is buttering their bread, politically speaking. And make with the campaign cash!”
4. “Deficit reduction” = “increasing your taxes.

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Ross Douthat marvels a bit.

[I]t was… striking that in an address organized around the theme of American competitiveness, which ran to almost 7,000 words and lasted for an hour, the president spent almost as much time talking about solar power as he did about the roots of the nation’s fiscal crisis.

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Ralph Reed, at National Review, described Obama as channeling Bill Clinton.

Watching Pres. Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, it was hard not to close one’s eyes and hear the voice of Bill Clinton. The only thing missing was: “The era of big government is over.” Had Obama used those words, he would have had to pay royalties to Dick Morris, who actually wrote the line, and whose participation was hidden at the time from the White House staff by Clinton.

Obama is in the midst of his own Clintonian shift to the middle: extending the Bush tax cuts, replacing Rahm Emanuel with Bill Daley, and replacing virtually his entire economic team. Unlike Clinton, he has made no attempt to hide his outreach to a new crop of outside advisers, including Bill Clinton himself and former Bush campaign adviser Matthew Dowd. It is head-snapping.

The result was a State of the Union speech so filled with cognitive dissonance as to be incoherent. Self-contradiction abounded. We must reform Social Security, Obama declared, but not reduce benefits for future retirees or expose them to the vicissitudes of the stock market. That pretty much removes 80 percent of a potential compromise on entitlement reform from the table. We must reduce government spending — but increase “investments” in education, energy, and infrastructure by tens of billions of dollars. We must finish what we started in Iraq and Afghanistan — but bring all the troops home as soon as possible. That Obama could deliver these words with such apparent conviction is a testament to his political skills, but an indictment of his leadership. His only north star is himself. As one adviser told New York magazine in an unintentionally revealing observation, “He wants to be Barack Obama again.” Which leaves one wondering: Who has he been for the past two years?

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As usual, Ann Althouse provides the best snark.


    At stake right now is not who wins the next election – after all, we just had an election.

Ha. What a lie! The next election is completely at stake. As for the last election, some of us think it was really important. But you’re saying: Eh, it’s over. Let’s turn away from electoral politics. But we know damned well you’re working on 2012, and your opponents want some attention paid to what just happened last November. …

    Many people watching tonight can probably remember a time when finding a good job meant showing up at a nearby factory or a business downtown. You didn’t always need a degree, and your competition was pretty much limited to your neighbors. If you worked hard, chances are you’d have a job for life, with a decent paycheck, good benefits, and the occasional promotion….

When was that true? Who is he talking about? I’m 60 and I don’t remember that ever being true.

    That world has changed. And for many, the change has been painful. I’ve seen it in the shuttered windows of once booming factories, and the vacant storefronts of once busy Main Streets. I’ve heard it in the frustrations of Americans who’ve seen their paychecks dwindle or their jobs disappear – proud men and women who feel like the rules have been changed in the middle of the game….

Proud… and bitter, clinging to their guns and religion.

    What we can do – what America does better than anyone – is spark the creativity and imagination of our people. We are the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook….

Edison? Can I have my incandescent light bulbs back? …

    Now, I’ve heard rumors that a few of you have some concerns about the new health care law. So let me be the first to say that anything can be improved. If you have ideas about how to improve this law by making care better or more affordable, I am eager to work with you. We can start right now by correcting a flaw in the legislation that has placed an unnecessary bookkeeping burden on small businesses.

    What I’m not willing to do is go back to the days when insurance companies could deny someone coverage because of a pre-existing condition.

He’ll work together with Republicans, but only if they offer little tweaks to the big overhaul he rammed through, with no consideration for their opinion, when they didn’t hold the seats in Congress.

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T. Shaw

State of the Union?

S.O.S. – Stuck On Stupid.



SDD

Mr. President, I want to know a few things:

1. If reducing high corporate taxes is a good idea, why was it not a good idea a year ago?
2. You pledge to veto bills with earmarks; yet you’ve been signing them for the last two years with no protest. What was so good about THOSE earmarks?
3. If education would benefit from treating teachers as professionals and paying them for performance rather than tenure, why have you been protecting the very unions that are utterly opposed to that proposition?
4. If our educational attainment is below that of other countries yet we spend more money on education than those countries, why do you think more federal spending would be an effective solution?
5. If “infrastructure” spending is important, what has happened to all “stimulus” projects that you said would be focused on “shovel-ready” infrastructure projects?

and, most importantly,

6. What evidence can you provide that would convince us that a trillion dollars in investment will produce better economic results if the government chooses the investments than if the private sector does?



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