Obama SOTU Live-Blogging: Short Hand

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obama state of the union.jpg
World War II. Beaches, Troops. Challenges.
Feel sorry for me — crappy circumstances. Tough economy. Tough national security position. FEEL FOR ME.
For troubled Americans — with children — Some are frustrated, some are angry.
People are tired of partisanship. Why won’t Wall Street make things better?
“I have not been more hopeful than I am tonight.”
[Congressman and Senators stand up — but comment falls flat on my crowd watching.]
What unifies Republicans and Democrats — “We all hated the bank bailout”.
Editorial — You might have hated it, but Summers and Geithner did not hate it. Bob Rubin sent you a “thank you card.”
Joe Biden looks great — only one in the “team of rivals” whose cork has risen.
“Millions of Americans have more to spend” — but actually, they are saving, because they are fearful about their future.
This is not a speech that recognizes what has gone wrong. This is not a speech that senses that they have confused tactics and strategic goals.
I want Obama to succeed. I do. But this speech — thus far — does not push me in his direction.
The economy is growing again — BUT NOT IN JOBS!
“Jobs must be our number one focus in 2010.”
Show me. Make me believe it. Fire your Econ team and show me you have someone who understands job creation.
Now he wants to give $30 billion from banks that paid back loans to save the community banks that were not gambling. Yahoo…! (Joking)
Obama says he is visiting Tampa, Florida to visit high rail project — like ones all across the country. Where? My partner took about 12 hours to go to Montreal today via New York and Boston. Where are the high rail commitments happening??
I want a “jobs bill on my desk right away”. Really?? You had one in your first stimulus package — and the jobs saved were at Goldman Sachs and Citibank.
“China is not waiting to revamp its economy. Germany is not waiting.”
We need to do more. “I do not accept second place for the United States of America.”
But that is what you are doing!!!!!
“It’s time to get serious about the issues that are hampering our growth.”
I agree — but show me in any serious policy proposal how you are changing the game.
Your economic team — particularly Larry Summers, Tim Geithner, and your economic consigliere Bob Rubin — believe that anything that robs from Wall Street’s unfettered growth and dynamism hampers growth.
Energy, energy, energy — nuclear, off shore, renewables, clean energy/climate change legislation. Checking off the boxes.
We will double exports….and we are going to have a national export initiative! Only way to make it work is to force the Chinese yuan higher.
Make trading partners play by the rules — a line stolen from every President since trade agreements came into play.
“We need to invest in the skills and education of our people.” I agree — but does Obama really have a sense of what is happening in this country in education. It has not turned around. He needs to get deeper into the muck.
“Students can no longer depend on where they live — versus their merit.” Where do your daughters go in DC??
Obama says “we need health insurance reform.” But at what cost?
I’m taking a break…this is frustrating. I’m chatting with other journalists online about the speech, what it means, how it ranks, and whether or not it is connecting with Americans.
My friend Marc Ambinder really thinks that this is an intersting speech.
I am frustrated by it. It’s a check off the box speech — not an “I’m changing the game speech.”
There is a deep part of my mind and psyche that really likes Barack Obama. I am mesmerized by his oratorical skills and framing, but the guy who knows how to move legislators, businesses, labor unions, militaries, and so on — is seated behind him; Joe Biden.
Biden has his hiccups — but somehow the combined package of Obama and Biden is not yielding the real changes in the domestic and social contracts America holds that we should have.
I want Obama to get this right. He just checked off the boxes on immigration and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Good to mention. Better to get to getting these things done.
The part of Obama’s speech about how hard change is is very good. Change is hard. i get it. But he is a brilliant man — a great man, I think. But he is not winning and he needs to know from those who care for him and his success that the fact that politics is tough is no excuse for not getting the nation moved forward.
His Chief of Staff has none of the humility or introspection that Barack Obama is exhibiting tonight. He needs to make sure Rahm reads this speech — again, if he wants to help Barack Obama and the U.S. to succeed.
Speech done — I need to go think about what it all means.
The biggest thing that stands out is how long the speech was. I feel like Obama is warning the Senate that he can out filibuster all of them.
But I am filled with doubts still — but to be fair, I heard some of what I wanted to hear from Barack Obama about priorities and the economy – but until I see a change in his personnel choices and policy decisions, I don’t find his confessions about mistakes compelling.
More later — more tomorrow. I hope I have a less bleak read when i step back from this, but to be honest — as I listen, I feel that this was not a game-changing address, and that is what he needed.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

49 comments on “Obama SOTU Live-Blogging: Short Hand

  1. questions says:

    Silver Slipper,
    Somewhere out there is a chart of the uses of filibuster threats by party and party in power. The Republicans use it far more often against Dem majorities than the other way around. It’s a useful tool when it’s used with restraint and a fair amount of respect for the governing party. At this point, we have none of that in the Senate.
    Brown is going to have HUGE pressure to vote with the right and not betray his party. He’s going to have HUGE re-election pressure as well. I bet he’s not really going to like the Senate!

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  2. silver slipper says:

    Questions:
    Did you hear President Obama address that in his speech? He said something like, “If you Republicans want to continue demanding a 60 vote super majority, your going to have to start participating in the hard position of governing… finding solutions… ” It went something like that. I don’t like the beginning of the statement, because he makes it sound like it’s all Republicans’ fault we have the 60 super majority rule. That’s something that both parties have used throughout my lifetime anyway.
    The Republicans also have an alternative health care plan. You can read it at http://rules-republicans.house.gov/Media/PDF/RepublicanAlternative3962_9.pdf .
    And last of all, Senator Brown says he will sometimes vote with the Democrats. You can read about this in the article at http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D9DGUC7O0&show_article=1 . As a conservative, I say ‘Thank goodness Brown was elected so that now the Republicans CAN start participating in the legislation process!’ I’m emphasizing the word can versus President Obama’s statement that now they HAVE to start participating.

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  3. questions says:

    Anyone out there can tell me how Obama is supposed to get past the Senate? No speech is going to be a “game changer” because the Republicans have a rock solid strategy of opposing any large policy initiatives, and most likely, any small policy initiatives. They have their own electoral support pretty firmly in place. They can energize their right most supporters through the act of opposition. They have no need to have a positive agenda. In fact, a negative agenda is both exactly what their base wants and exactly what they can do in the Senate. It’s a perfect position for the Republicans.
    On the dem side, the dem base demands CHANGE and ACTION and legislative accomplishments. But to do any of that in the Senate, the dems need 60 progressives. They have, instead, Lieberman and Nelson and the like.
    What, honestly, can Obama do?
    Reid is likely going to lose re-election over the health care thing, and over the compromise positions he has to take as majority leader. And the other conservative dems are polling badly as well.
    So how is a speech going to help? What game can be changed given the structures of the US political system? We don’t have a benign monarchy, we have an electoral system that gives inordinate power to inertia and rural interests over action and urban interests.
    But at least Florida will be Dem-ish for a while — if that train thing ends up working!
    Wonder if they can buy a couple of other swing states before November?
    Good for you, good for the dems. THAT should be the theme.
    Health care as pork? Oh wait, they tried that one, too. Oh dear.
    (This post is partly inspired by a very nice Nate Silver piece on the dem/repub numbers needed for political success. The original is worth the trip to 538.)

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  4. ... says:

    wigwag, you articulate something very well, so i’m going to quote you..
    “Posted by WigWag, Jan 28 2010, 1:35PM – Link
    “It’s not just that the equity markets in the United States are plunging in the aftermath of the speech; they’ve been plunging for ten days. It all started when Obama announced his plan to reform the banks.” – exactly….
    “Don’t get me wrong; I support that plan and I actually wish it were stronger; the fact that the markets don’t like the plan is probably a sign that it might actually have some teeth.” correct again…
    “But if Obama wants to reconnect with the American public, the consequences of a falling stock market should not be underestimated.” agreed….
    “Around 50 million American families own stock; either individual shares or through mutual funds. Many millions more own stock through their pension funds.”
    western culture has bought into the ponzi scheme and it must be kept alive at all costs…. the conclusion is: one can hold off the inevitable for only so long before it can’t be held off any longer…..

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  5. silver slipper says:

    My impression of the speech is the President Obama should be called our Preacher in Chief. It seems he’s always telling people what they should or shouldn’t do. Like how does he know? He should be focused on what a President should and shouldn’t do, and then do it. Let the congress, senate, media, supreme court, etc… fulfill their roles as they see best. He’s really wasting his energy by trying to change other’s actions.

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  6. silver slipper says:

    My impression of the speech is the President Obama should be called our Preacher in Chief. It seems he’s always telling people what they should or shouldn’t do. Like how does he know? He should be focused on what a President should and shouldn’t do, and then do it. Let the congress, senate, media, supreme court, etc… fulfill their roles as they see best. He’s really wasting his energy by trying to change other’s actions.

    Reply

  7. Linda says:

    Erich,
    Agree with you a lot.
    SOTU did not play well with a varied focus group in Columbus, and I saw on CNN this morning the reactions of folks in a bar in Youngstown that is solidly Democratic. The reactions pretty much were nice words but we want to see things really change.
    WigWag,
    Guess it is somehow appropriate for this thread that you started announcing Howard Zinn’s death and ended announcing J.D. Salinger’s. But they fit well with my reaction to SOTU. It’s all very sad and depressing.

    Reply

  8. WigWag says:

    J.D. Salinger died at 91

    Reply

  9. WigWag says:

    It’s not just that the equity markets in the United States are plunging in the aftermath of the speech; they’ve been plunging for ten days. It all started when Obama announced his plan to reform the banks.
    Don’t get me wrong; I support that plan and I actually wish it were stronger; the fact that the markets don’t like the plan is probably a sign that it might actually have some teeth.
    But if Obama wants to reconnect with the American public, the consequences of a falling stock market should not be underestimated.
    Around 50 million American families own stock; either individual shares or through mutual funds. Many millions more own stock through their pension funds.
    Millions of retired Americans rely on income from money that they saved over their working lives. Just a few years ago, interest on Treasury securities or Certificates of Deposit provided enough interest income for these retirees to get by. Now, with interest rates so low, millions have been forced by necessity to take money out of these extremely safe investment vehicles and place them at greater risk by investing in equities. If the stock market fall continues, these people not only don’t get the income that they need to live on, they lose principal which can be devastating for a person with no source of income than a social security check.
    It’s the dilemma that Obama faces; there is no good answer. Regulating the markets appropriately will cause the equity markets to fall at least in the short and intermediate term; failure to regulate the markets will almost surely result in a market calamity like the one we recently experienced.
    Unfortunately one thing is clear, whatever agenda Obama still has left will be harder to accomplish if the nation has to suffer through a depressing and long-lived fall in share prices.

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  10. Don Bacon says:

    The market drops on a mention of bank fees, but just imagine what it would do if Obama had said we need to “restructure our institutions, our economy” (next thread). Not that it’s not necessary.

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  11. DonS says:

    . . . and Obama sure didn’t hammer the ‘R’ (regulation) word. A modest little mention of a “small fee” on the largest banks. I don’t think that’s it either.
    Maybe just the usual Wall St short term technical corrections, begun several days ago and ‘tied’to the bare mention of regulation in line with BHO’s current populist rhetoric. Market in need of a little profit taking shake out anyway; it would have to drop another 400-500 points before it’s called a correction.

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  12. DonS says:

    Wigwag, the Yahoo Finance lead is “Wall street Slammed as Risk Appetite ebbs”, and the sub story is reduced tech sector earnings.
    So could you flesh out your take on the connection with Obama’s speech? It’s tempting to says there is a “verdict” here. But, what? Surely Wall Street isn’t saying, oooh, gosh, I wish Obama had shown some serious intent to actually make some changes that will curtail our obscene profits. Or, oooh, gosh, I wish Obama had been convincing and decisive on reining in fossil fuel. Or. oooh, gosh, I wish Obama had said he was going to crack down on offshoring income.
    So, what?

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  13. WigWag says:

    The stock market’s verdict on Obama’s speech is in; it’s plunging.

    Reply

  14. Don Bacon says:

    Obama caved on global warming and its environmental effects. He felt that he couldn’t use that phrase, apparently. Now clean energy is good for the economy.
    Obama: “I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change. But here’s the thing — even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy-efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future -– because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy.”

    Reply

  15. JamesL says:

    Steve’s first responses were correct and erichw is the most accurate. The speech was a check-off speech, aimed to console middle America in tone and rhetoric, but not content. The poll showing 83% approval for the speech is more alarming than comforting.
    There are four things that America must do to survive. It must significantly–by 75% or more–reduce military expenditures and refrain from counterproductive foreign military adventurism. It must make international friends by ceasing its policy of military interference and by increasing non-military cooperation and assistance. It must learn to differentiate needs from wants, with policy based on fundamental needs. It must become energy independent, engage in a national dialog to define and prioritize year by year actions with an end point of sustainability, and make
    short term actions and policies congruent with long term goals.
    All of these goals are necessary for survival. Not “progress”. Survival. Two or three out of four won’t do.
    History is littered with the sudden disappearence of cultures that ceased to comprehend or maintain these goals as top priorities.
    “Jobs” is merely a checkbox, not a policy or meaningful goal. “Green” technologies do not ensure sustainability; they instead promote a confusion that progress is being made and allow markets to coopt goals. “Green jobs” manages
    to contain two obfuscations in one pleasant phrase. Every person in the US could be engaged in “green” technology and the nation could and would be massively unsustainable without a clear and detailed underpinning of sustainability. Green is sustainable only when the “sustainable” holds a higher priority than “green”.
    Two antonyms of sustainability are unsustainable and suicidal. An unsustainable culture is a suicidal culture.
    Obama’s speech did not contain or even allude to any of these goals. Obama’s speech could be paraphrased as follows: Jobs are important to mention, but the kind of jobs they are only matters in a political sense. Current military
    expenditures and global actions are acceptable, necessary, and probably insufficient. The accumulation of national debt does not deserve mention. US foreign policy is perfect just as it is. Sustainability is not a goal and calculated preparations for a sustainable future are unnecessary. The massive wastage of oil energy by the US is acceptable; no changes beyond incremental are needed or planned. The US will continue to obtain the oil it wants from oil producing nations, by whatever means necessary. No substantive policy changes are necessary or anticipated by this administration.
    Most importantly, Obama did not acknowledge that the clock is ticking, that every second and minute and hour, and every drop of oil burned instantly and forever is subtracted from the potential for an orderly transition to a
    workable future, a future that without doubt differs from the present. Obama’s speech was addressed to the present, not the future, and was reactive. His speech will not go down in history as a watershed event combining long range
    vision and wisdom with short term actions to set a new course for the nation. In terms of its importance to the nation, and to Obama’s future and legacy, it was a great opportunity lost.
    By seeking to rhetorically placate rather than substantively elucidate and engage people in solving these critical and fundamental problems, Obama has hastened the day when people who do recognize the necessity of fundamental changes chose to give their allegiance to leaders who are able to envision, encourage, and chart a viable course out of the present.

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  16. DonS says:

    Agreed, Carroll, SOTU is not the place to annouce personnel changes.
    And often it is not the place to play gotcha politics either. But given the universal perception, among sentient being who are not caught up in the republican mass delusion, the politics of “no” deserved to be laid out in front of the American people much more strongly and explicitly than it was (i.e., if I recall, by innuendo and inference from the “if you require 60 votes to pass anything”, with a sidelong glance to that part of the chamber. That’s not confronting the chief procedural factor underlying the gridlock that Obama identified. It needed to be spelled out. Obama has nothing to lose but some kumbaya points.
    Overall, I did not find the tone of the presentation serious enough. Still too much smirking and chuckling; too much congenially clubby nuance. (wink, wink, we all politicians/insiders, eh?) I’m aware that just being solemn can come across unnaturally heavy — and that one should not try to act too far out of conformity with one’s natural presence. However, the tone and presentation did not convey the truly dire state of things; it didn’t even come up to matching the words as written.
    I also understand Obama was ostensibly trying to start over again, in campaign mode. Up beat, can do, America the great, etc.
    No can do. We are where we are, ad it’s not something that can be airbrushed away.

    Reply

  17. Carroll says:

    Totally OT, but for some reason I was thinking today about the missing billions of Iraq’s own money that has never been found.
    I did a search on Hazem Shaalan, who was the defense minister Iraq says got at least 1 billion of it and fled the country.
    It appears that 2007 was the last report on him and evidently the money was traced to a bank in Jordon but Jordon refuses to open the bank records on the money or Shaalan.
    Iraq indicted him in absentia but Shaalan is still living around the world in various places flashing wads of cash and living in luxury….and it is rumored he is spending some of it on a lobbying firm in DC to grease his way out of being hounded by Iraq.
    You have to wonder why the US gives tons of foreign aid to countries that we then don’t have any cooperation from. You would think that it would be part of the US responsibility to help Iraq find and get back the money stolen during our smashup of the country.
    Why did we increase Jordon’s foreign aid by 48% last year to help them with their infastructure and water plants and etc?
    Where is the money? Everyone quit looking for it ..why?
    10 to one the US knows…or thinks it knows and doesn’t want to go there.
    Maybe we can reform Blackwater and turn them into a collection agency.

    Reply

  18. Don Bacon says:

    The commercial interests are leaping on this Obama policy that “jobs must be our No. 1 focus in 2010” to push harder for more “free trade” pacts that suck up US jobs and send them overseas, and Obama is (of course) going along with the business interests.
    Obama: “That’s why we will continue to shape a Doha trade agreement that opens global markets, and why we will strengthen our trade relations in Asia and with key partners like South Korea, Panama, and Colombia.” Global markets for US jobs, he means. We’re in for more job outsourcing, a growth industry in the US. Why hire when you can outsource?
    Hyundai floods the US with cheap autos, and Panama and Colombia offer cheap labor — they aren’t going to buy much made in the USA. Unemployment rose in all of the fifty states (plus DC) last year, seven million added to the unemployment roles in the last two years, and Obama is promising more of the same.

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  19. John Waring says:

    http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/americandebate/A_few_hundred_words.html?text=med&c=y
    Here’s Dick Polman’s reaction. He’s underwhelmed by Obama’s short shrift on health car reform.
    Here’s my reaction: jobs need to be Priority #1 until hell freezes over.

    Reply

  20. Don Bacon says:

    SC: “the guy who knows how to move legislators, businesses, labor unions, militaries, and so on — is seated behind him; Joe Biden.. . .only one in the “team of rivals” whose cork has risen.”
    Correct, Biden’s cork has risen. At the recent diplomatic hoo-hah in Iraq after Shi’ite Maliki cut hundreds of Sunni candidates out of the upcoming election, it was Gentle Joe, not our SecState, who tripped on over there.
    Hillary hasn’t done much in her tenure so far except to criticize other governments in Russia, China, Iran and Israel, etc. There have been no State diplomatic achievements that I’m aware of, so Obama’s not the only one who has failed to show up for work.
    And Hillary was not at the SOTU.

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  21. A.Citizen says:

    One word is all I can spare for this (PO)TU(S):
    Pathetic.

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  22. Phil says:

    Steve,
    Could not agree with you more on the economic team
    comments. I would also throw the support for
    Bernanke in that same boat. Here is another
    Greenspan disciple who helped craft the causes of
    the crisis being kept in a key role and asked to
    help fix the mess he and his school of thought
    created. Isn’t the definition of insanity doing the
    exact same thing and expecting a different result?

    Reply

  23. Carroll says:

    Actually I don’t think the SOTU is the place to announce personnel changes.
    But if he doesn’t make those changes then obviously he isn’t serious.

    Reply

  24. Gray says:

    Good points, Steve! Agree 100%. Briliant rhetoric, as usual, but where’s the beef? This will only give HIS popularity a short term boost, but won’t really help the Dem party. He should have announced personal changes in his administation, like replacing Geithner and Emanuel. Now that would have been something that won’t be forgotten two weeks from now!

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  25. erichwwk says:

    \
    Sad speech, full of political double-speak, meaningless terms.
    Military spending sinks empires. The Brits let empire go, to save the country. It seems that our leaders prefer to take the country down, as happened w/ the former USSR, as a last ditch, desperate effort to maintain military dominance.
    Steve, I suspect you’ve at least read Alchian and Allen’s University economics, if not heard Armen himself explain how the use of the word “needs” is to obfuscate, and at best to warn you of a load of lies and persuasion about to come your way.
    To talk in terms of “spending”, “doing” what we need, but no more, rather than talk about the pros and cons of choices about how we share and produce, is the ultimate exercise in propaganda over substance.
    There is no game, when some players hold all the chips, those without view those chips as stolen, and their is no acknowledgment of that fact.
    A major lost opportunity. Obama would have done better to throw out that speech, and pay attention to the last three TWN posts, and address the concerns of the bottom 20%, and 80% of Americans.

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  26. Carroll says:

    First, it was obvious Obama’s speech was aimed at the” public”, not Steve’s policy crowd or the chattering class.
    He said what the “public wanted to hear”….the pissed off, mad, discontented masses.
    He slapped around everyone and every thing the public is sick of.
    So he accomplished ‘his’ goal.
    His follow thru for the public will be another question….is he just speechifying again?

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  27. P.S. Mueller says:

    I, too, alternated between feelings of vitriol and resignation,
    though I was heartened slightly by the president’s occasional
    jabs. Much more of that, please. Still, I find myself yearning to
    see a few pages taken from LBJ’s masterful approach Congress.
    He didn’t play clean, but he did manage to change everything
    with the Civil Rights acts of 1964 and 1965, not to mention
    Medicare.
    At this point in his first term, it’s perfectly clear that Rahm is the
    wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time, and he only
    tops my list.
    And thanks for posting the book thing by Joe Stiglitz, by the
    way. Fascinating and terrifying.
    Yer idiot pal,
    P.S.

    Reply

  28. nadine says:

    Joe, it’s a curious feature of Obama’s rhetoric that it always seems to contain “dog whistles”, i.e. themes that are only audible to certain audiences. The very same lines that you hear as a “centrist tone” are perceived by conservatives as a partisan attack. That is because the centrist tone is not backed up by centrist substance.
    Obama’s rhetoric habitually displays what I think of as the “bipartisan two-step”.
    First he expresses respect for those with whom he has philosophical differences. So far so good; this sets him up as Mr. Reasonable.
    Then he asserts that his view, and his alone, is the correct one and calls on everybody to unite around him and his view. (An odd way of respecting differences, surely.)
    Third, he condemns ahead of time anybody who is “divisive” or “obstructionist” enough to wish to maintain his own views instead of jettisoning them for Obama’s.
    Obama did that tonight. So what you hear as a centrist tone, Republicans hear as a partisan attack. It is not received as a good faith invitation to bipartisanship, but as a set-up for Obama to attack Republicans.
    This is especially true when you remember that Obama’s views are quite far to the left. If his views really were centrist, it might be received differently, but as it is, he is demanding Republicans do a 180 degree change of opinion, or else.
    I have to believe this is deliberate. Whether it is or no, I think it is one reason that Rep. Boehner and Sen. McConnell have been able to hold the Republican caucus together in opposition.

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  29. Paul Norheim says:

    And one day Steve Jobs descended from the mountain with a tablet, and from the shining
    surface of his tablet a man shouted: “Jobs!” with a loud voice, and Steve saw the man
    and said: “yes?”. And the voice shouted: “Jobs!” for the second time, and Steve said:
    “iMagic! iMazing! iHear you, Mr. President!”. And the voice shouted: “Jobs!” for the
    third time, and Steve said “iHear and iSee you, Mr. Obama; can you iHear me?” But when
    the voice shouted: “Jobs!” for the fourth time, Steve’s bespectacled iFace turned red
    and he said: “iWork, Barack, iWork my iAss off! iTime is iMoney, and if you can’t even
    iHear me, I have no iTime for your iChat. Goodbye, Mr President…. huh?…iHate?
    …yeah, iHate the bailout too… iPhone you later… iPromise you too!”

    Reply

  30. Joe says:

    Allow me to be a dissenting voice here.
    I loved the speech. It was great, it was well delivered, it touched upon themes that needed to be addressed and waved the stars and stripes enough to make Americans, even for an hour feel good about themselves. Call it a national pep rally or whatever it is you desire. It was needed and it felt good considering what little Americans have going for them.
    That being said, there was little to really go crazy over. Nothing in terms of substance as others have noted. The man was campaigning to middle America as pundits predicted. He did a good job in achieving an overall centrist tone and I can commend him for that. However, it has yet to be seen if he can lead and whether or not Congress will accept his overtures. Time will tell.

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  31. Steven Clemons says:

    dianaw and others — totally get your impressions and respect
    them. i think your views are authentic. I was waiting to hear
    evidence of substantive change rather than the veneer of change
    and didn’t hear what I hoped for — for the most part. I’m going
    to re-watch the speech tomorrow, which did have strong points
    as a speech, but I want to see evidence of serious strategic
    thinking and a commitment at a different level after a year in
    office.
    But listen, folks have very different views on speeches. During
    the campaigns, my assessments of who did well, badly, and why
    were often out of line with the public. That may be the case
    tonight….and I am just part of the natural variation of reactions.
    But to kick my own tires, I will watch again tomorrow when my
    head is clear.
    All best – -and thanks for the very thoughtful and interesting
    comments, all around,
    Steve

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  32. dianaw says:

    Steve: I guess we just have different priorities and expectations. I was really impressed by Obama tonight. I know things haven’t gone as well as we’d like, but I think that’s probably pretty normal. Look at what he inherited and what he is up against. To me it’s a sign of progress that he’s getting so much pushback. To me that means he’s really trying to change the status quo. We never got that kind of outrage over Clinton’s reforms, because they weren’t really reforms. My question is, what is your alternative? Is there really anyone out there that can make more progress than he has, and if so, how will they do it? You criticize nuances of a pretty traditional and formulaic event, as if you were expecting Shakespeare, but don’t offer any alternative. Can you do better? How? Be specific!

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  33. nadine says:

    “We don’t have a teevee, so I just flipped my laptop around and flashed the HuffPo headline ‘I DON’T QUIT’ to my girlfriend and her instant response, I swear it wasn’t more than a millisecond, was: “When’s he going to start?” (Don Bacon)
    Touche! She got that one right!
    I saw a Frank Luntz focus group (made of of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans in Philadelphia) react to the speech. They were mostly indignant that Obama had recycled his 2008 campaign rhetoric when he has been President for a year already and fulfilled none of his promises.

    Reply

  34. Don Bacon says:

    We don’t have a teevee, so I just flipped my laptop around and flashed the HuffPo headline ‘I DON’T QUIT’ to my girlfriend and her instant response, I swear it wasn’t more than a millisecond, was: “When’s he going to start?
    She often gets things right.

    Reply

  35. eberit says:

    It seems the usual TWN crowd is snidely commenting as usual. I work within the “Labor” community on the west coast. I was at a labor council GOTV event while I tried to listen and then later I got to the C-Span recast to watch it. I want to hope and I have had a difficult time with that lately. Watching and listening I felt a glimmer of hope here. As a person who works on local and federal initiatives or legislation I can attest to the how byzantine the process can be. I heard a “cut through the mustard” call that also was honest about warts on all sides. Even with the crazy call for spending freezes I think I have been brought back to support.

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  36. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “…as I listen, I feel that this was not a game-changing address, and that is what he needed”
    Addresses don’t change the game, actions do.
    I think you are reading too much into the importance of his words, while failing to take note of how they were recieved. The important “impression” to be taken away from this SOTU speech was the open and blatant partisan division exhibited by the gallery. Even if sincere, there is no way Obama can cut through this partisan animous and conflict that has rendered our government impotent to address the needs of the people. Just read the ignorant and wretched partisan crap that flows off the keyboard of Nadine, and multiply it a hundred-fold, and you have the degree of divisive and party aligned horseshit that these scumballs like Boehner, Pelosi, McCain, Reid, and the rest of the heavy hitters on both sides of the aisle bring to the table. These despicable pigs aren’t interested in much more than who has the power to be first at the feeding trough. It doesn’t matter WHAT Obama says, these spineless bits of human excrement in DC will trip over themselves to undermine him if theres a penny in it.

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  37. Dan Kervick says:

    I know that “live-blogging” speeches has by now become a venerable blogospheric tradition. But frankly, I don’t find it very conducive to thoughtful evaluation or criticism. Why don’t all of these antsy, ADD bloggers just endeavor to sit on their hands for an hour or two, pay attention to what is said, cogitate like a mentally developed adult, and then compose some considered judgements? The republic will continue to stand without their jittery real time play-by-play.
    On the other hand, maybe I should live-blog the next book I read:
    ——————-
    “Rome … Christians .. global empire … downfall”
    ” ‘The frontiers of that extensive monarchy were guarded by ancient renown and disciplined valor.’ …. Nice sentence!”
    “Ah, big word here. My head hurts!”
    “Gibbon … Pibbon … Ribbon … Big’un …. I’m hungry. I wonder if there are any shao mai left..”
    ” ‘…the image of a free constitution …’ Subtle! Gibbon, what a genius this man is!”
    Gibbon looks tan in this picture. His cork is rising.
    “How many pages are left? 355! Holy shit!”
    ” …’Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, and the two Antonines’ … The nerve o’ that Nerva! I’ll trade’ya one Trajan fer two Antonines! – Sometimes I really make myself laugh 🙂 ”
    “[Note to self: Remember to read Yourcenar’s Memoires d’Hadrien and live-blog the first two pages.]”
    “Gibbon…what an ass this man is!”
    “I’ve read two paragraphs, and so far this guy is not giving me what I wanted!”
    ” … ‘The military fame of a subject was considered as an insolent invasion of the Imperial prerogative’ … not sure that I like that sentence, but BK has just texted me that he finds it interesting.”
    “Reading the third paragraph now, and he’s losing me. Gibbon has really lost his sizzle!”
    “Five paragraphs now. The bleakness is overwhelming and I’m exhausted. Need to get some sleep.”

    Reply

  38. JohnH says:

    (Yawn) Didn’t watch it. Tuned the man out.
    Wake me when he does something…
    (On second thought, I set my alarm. If I waited until he did something, I might never wake up.)

    Reply

  39. nadine says:

    “There is a deep part of my mind and psyche that really li[k]es Barack Obama. I am mesmerized by his oratorical skills and framing, but the guy who knows how to move legislators, businesses, labor unions, militaries, and so on — is seated behind him; Joe Biden” (Steve Clemons)
    If all he can do is oratory, then he is a candidate but not a President. I am mystified by why you still like him. Can’t you see by now that he has no second act? Even the oratory remains the same as in the campaign.
    If we’re really relying on Joe Biden for strength and wisdom to run the country, may Heaven help us.

    Reply

  40. patrcik h says:

    we rarely disagree but I think you are wrong about the speech.

    Reply

  41. nadine says:

    Obama doubled down. He’s not moving to the center at all. This was a 2008 campaign speech recycled. He just said “jobs jobs jobs” a lot. He’s still calling for Cap and Trade and Health Care Reform, for which he does not have the votes.
    Can you imagine how the Blue Dogs are feeling? Obama wants them to walk the plank in an election year.

    Reply

  42. Don Bacon says:

    “Jobs must be our number one focus in 2010.”
    Well that’s a switch. Go to Obama’s web site, white house dot gov, click on ISSUES. You’ll see twenty-two issues, and not one of them is employment, or jobs.
    You will see economy. Obama has been concerned by the economy, which is profits and stock prices. There is obviously concern there, we’ve seen the big payouts to maintain profits and stock prices. What we haven’t seen is any commitment to jobs.
    We haven’t seen employment as an issue for the president because it hasn’t ever been an issue for the president. Is it now? He says it is. He says it will go from unmentioned to number one! What a leap. We’ll see.

    Reply

  43. DonS says:

    Another nice speech. Not particularly strong; certainly not as strong as the multiple challenges we face. More kumbaya, everyone join hands.
    Too bad nice speeches wont do it. If Obama had heard the message,the speech would have been a lot tougher.
    Earlier today we talked about the dramatic change of direction that is needed. Every minute Obama fails to get as serious as the issues, the ante goes up.

    Reply

  44. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “The President may be the only person in the country who has to think not only about educating his children but protecting them”
    Really??? Try sending your kids to school in Pacoima or East Los Angeles.

    Reply

  45. WigWag says:

    No one is more critical of Obama than I am. My only point is that his daughters face security issues at school that are completely unique. The President may be the only person in the country who has to think not only about educating his children but protecting them.
    I understand that parents who send their kids to public school in Washington D.C. also have concerns for their kids safety, but what the Obama girls face is different in scope.

    Reply

  46. Steve Clemons says:

    WigWag — fair comment. The reason I include his daughters is that in the highly liberal magazine, Tikkun, George Vradenberg — the publisher of Tikkun and former general counsel of AOL, challenged Obama and his team about public edcuation and a collective opposition in the administration to innovation and choice in schools. In the piece, he argues that Obama makes a mistake opposing innovation in DC while his daughters go to private schools.
    Obama’s comments in the speech opened that door — or I would not have raised it. But I appreciate the sensitivity.
    Wanted to respond to you seriously — but given what I was thinking and heard, I’ll stand with how I framed things.
    all best, steve

    Reply

  47. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Leave his daughters out of it”
    ROFLMAO!!!
    Coming from someone who has attacked my partner, Nina, merely out of spite, (without knowing one damned thing about Nina).
    Steve is correct in pointing out the elitist circumstances of Obama’s children. Obama doesn’t have a fuckin’ clue about what it is like to drop your kid off at some gang invested rathole that has outdated texts, no supplies, overflowing toilets, and deeply resentful and under-paid under-educated teachers.

    Reply

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