The speech began with an elegant and elevated opening, but quickly descended into scolding and condescension.Read the rest. More from Mr. Thiessen on Obama's response to terrorism in the Washington Post:
He scolded the justices of the Supreme Court in front of their faces and led the entire Democratic side of the aisle into cheering his taunts. The justices sat there stone-faced (save Justice Alito, whose reaction probably betrayed what the rest were thinking).
He scolded Republicans for obstruction and declared “we can’t wage a perpetual campaign” — even as he continued, in his speech, his perpetual campaign against President Bush. [. . .]
He scolded Scott Brown (without mentioning his name) and all those who have criticized his handling of the Christmas Day bomber, declaring that “all of us love this country” and warning critics to “put aside the schoolyard taunts about who is tough.” [. . .]
It was quite possibly the most partisan, condescending State of the Union address ever. Tonight, Obama was unpresidential. The permanent campaign continues. In the long run it will backfire.
No, leave the taunting to him. Pundit and I looked at each other in disbelief at the inappropriateness of this. From Hot Air:
Listening to President Obama's speech, I could not help wondering how different this night would have been had Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's bomb not malfunctioned. Four weeks ago our country was the target of a catastrophic terrorist attack. But for the grace of God, Northwest Flight 253 would have crashed into downtown Detroit, killing thousands. Yet just a month later, it is an afterthought for this president. His only mention of the failed attack was a passing reference that he was responding with "better airline security."
Worse, the president's brief discussion of terrorism focused not on what he was doing to defend the country but was, rather, a vigorous defense of himself. His first words on the subject were a chastisement of those who would dare criticize his handling of terrorism, declaring that "all of us love this country" and warning his Republican critics to "put aside the schoolyard taunts about who is tough." It's all about him. No acknowledgement of how close we came to disaster or praise for the brave passengers who subdued the terrorist. No, only this message for his critics: If you question the wisdom of telling a captured terrorist "you have the right to remain silent," you are really questioning the president's patriotism and engaging in childish taunts.
Politico’s calling it his [Justice Alito's] Joe Wilson moment.The person who was way out of line was our arrogant president. And like Joe Wilson, Justice Alito was right and Obama was wrong:
When you hear the president of the United States demagoguing the First Amendment, you sit there and you take it, son.
Apparently, Obama is just wrong. The Court’s ruling didn’t impact the section of the statute that prohibits foreign corporations from making campaign donations or expenditures. (And the ban on direct corporate contributions remains in effect.) No wonder Justice Alito mouthed “not true.” (Even the New York Times’s notoriously liberal-leaning former court reporter Linda Greenhouse says Obama botched the case description.)For more mouthed truth telling see John McCain: "Blame it on Bush."
One of President Obama's proposals aroused spontaneous open laughter in the chamber. From Michelle:
Video here, at about 4:30 in. Americans are laughing, too. Only 9% believe it will make a real difference. Another funny fact about this:
9:54pm Eastern. Snort: Obama’s spending freeze proposal falls totally flat. Not even a smattering of applause. A smittering. Is that a word?
Obama says the freeze won’t take place until next year.
LAUGHTER from the chamber. LOLOLOL.
Snippy Obama: “That’s how budgeting works.”
The anticipated savings from this proposal would amount to less than 1 percent of the deficit — and that's if the president can persuade Congress to go along.Lunch money.
By the way, someone should tell Obama that Americans despise snippiness in their leaders.
On healthcare, Obama renewed his vow to force "the plan we've proposed" (whichever on that may be -- he's never endorsed a specific plan or offered his own) down America's throat, repeating the same false claims that Americans clearly don't believe. From the transcript (emphasis added):
I didn't expect him to hit healthcare as hard as he did, considering its overwhelming unpopularity. Sigh. Jennifer Rubin on this:
Now, let's clear a few things up. (Laughter.) I didn't choose to tackle this issue to get some legislative victory under my belt. And by now it should be fairly obvious that I didn't take on health care because it was good politics. (Laughter.) I took on health care because of the stories I've heard from Americans with preexisting conditions whose lives depend on getting coverage; patients who've been denied coverage; families –- even those with insurance -– who are just one illness away from financial ruin.
After nearly a century of trying -- Democratic administrations, Republican administrations -- we are closer than ever to bringing more security to the lives of so many Americans. The approach we've taken would protect every American from the worst practices of the insurance industry. It would give small businesses and uninsured Americans a chance to choose an affordable health care plan in a competitive market. It would require every insurance plan to cover preventive care.
And by the way, I want to acknowledge our First Lady, Michelle Obama, who this year is creating a national movement to tackle the epidemic of childhood obesity and make kids healthier. (Applause.) Thank you. She gets embarrassed. (Laughter.)
Our approach would preserve the right of Americans who have insurance to keep their doctor and their plan. It would reduce costs and premiums for millions of families and businesses. And according to the Congressional Budget Office -– the independent organization that both parties have cited as the official scorekeeper for Congress –- our approach would bring down the deficit by as much as $1 trillion over the next two decades. (Applause.)
Still, this is a complex issue, and the longer it was debated, the more skeptical people became. I take my share of the blame for not explaining it more clearly to the American people. And I know that with all the lobbying and horse-trading, the process left most Americans wondering, "What's in it for me?"
But I also know this problem is not going away. By the time I'm finished speaking tonight, more Americans will have lost their health insurance. Millions will lose it this year. Our deficit will grow. Premiums will go up. Patients will be denied the care they need. Small business owners will continue to drop coverage altogether. I will not walk away from these Americans, and neither should the people in this chamber. (Applause.)
So, as temperatures cool, I want everyone to take another look at the plan we've proposed. There's a reason why many doctors, nurses, and health care experts who know our system best consider this approach a vast improvement over the status quo. But if anyone from either party has a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors, and stop insurance company abuses, let me know. (Applause.) Let me know. Let me know. (Applause.) I'm eager to see it.
Here's what I ask Congress, though: Don't walk away from reform. Not now. Not when we are so close. Let us find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people. (Applause.) Let's get it done. Let's get it done. (Applause.)
It’s not an inconsequential thing for the president to declare “Do not walk away from reform.” There’s at least some expectation he’ll accomplish it.
But as with so much else in the Obama administration, there’s no game plan for getting from speech to legislation. It’s startling in some ways that, as the report noted, “he broke little new ground, defending the bill with many of the same lines he has used for months to boost support for the initiative.” Meanwhile, the House and Senate Democratic leaders are at each other’s throats, with no prospect of real progress anytime soon.
Obama has simply dumped the whole mess back in the lap of Congress. That’s a recipe for getting through a speech and deflecting responsibility, but not for governing. Well, that’s pretty much par for the course in the Obama presidency.
Comic relief: Who can blame Janet for snoozing (though I'm a little surprised Rahm didn't give her a sharp elbow). The speech was really long, packed with chunk after chunk of meaningless filler, or what Obama and his high school speech writers think of as soaring rhetoric.
Which brings us to Mark Steyn's analysis of the speech. For him it had a generic "State of the Unions for Dummies" quality:
It sounds like an all-purpose speech for President Anyone: We've met here in good times and bad, war and peace, prosperity and depression, Shrove Tuesday and Super Bowl Sunday, riding high in April, shot down in May. We've been up and down and over and out and I know one thing. Each time we find ourselves flat on our face, we pick ourselves up and get back in the race. That's life, pause for applause . . .Mark marvels, again, at the lousiness of the Obama speech writers. But they apparently give him exactly what he wants. Or perhaps he's writing most of it himself.
And, when he moves from the gaseous and general to the specific, he becomes petty and and thin-skinned and unpresidential. And, unlike the national security feints and 101 Historical Allusions For Public Speakers stuff, the petulance is all too obviously real.
Thanks to Michelle Malkin for the link (buzzworthy)
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