Wednesday, January 21, 2015
"This is good news, people." --President Obama -- SOTU Speech
Yes. Yes it is.
Last night's SOTU was terrific. President Obama was optimistic and confident about the country's economic improvements and monumental social and health care gains that no one believed we'd achieve six years ago.
Here are some of the best parts of President Obama's SOTU:
"We still may not agree on a woman's right to choose, but surely we can agree it's a good thing that teen pregnancies and abortions are nearing all-time lows, and that every woman should have access to the health care she needs....We may go at it in campaign season, but surely we can agree that the right to vote is sacred; that it's being denied to too many; and that, on this 50th anniversary of the great march from Selma to Montgomery and the passage of the Voting Rights Act, we can come together, Democrats and Republicans, to make voting easier for every single American...We may have different takes on the events of Ferguson and New York. But surely we can understand a father who fears his son can't walk home without being harassed. Surely we can understand the wife who won't rest until the police officer she married walks through the front door at the end of his shift. Surely we can agree it's a good thing that for the first time in 40 years, the crime rate and the incarceration rate have come down together, and use that as a starting point for Democrats and Republicans, community leaders and law enforcement, to reform America's criminal justice system so that it protects and serves us all."
"You know, just over a decade ago, I gave a speech in Boston where I said there wasn't a liberal America, or a conservative America; a black America or a white America - but a United States of America. I said this because I had seen it in my own life, in a nation that gave someone like me a chance; because I grew up in Hawaii, a melting pot of races and customs; because I made Illinois my home - a state of small towns, rich farmland, and one of the world's great cities; a microcosm of the country where Democrats and Republicans and Independents, good people of every ethnicity and every faith, share certain bedrock values. Over the past six years, the pundits have pointed out more than once that my presidency hasn't delivered on this vision. How ironic, they say, that our politics seems more divided than ever. It's held up as proof not just of my own flaws - of which there are many - but also as proof that the vision itself is misguided, and naïve, and that there are too many people in this town who actually benefit from partisanship and gridlock for us to ever do anything about it. I know how tempting such cynicism may be. But I still think the cynics are wrong."
Money quote (literally):
"And to everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this: If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it."
IOW, Bite Me!
"At every step, we were told our goals were misguided or too ambitious; that we would crush jobs and explode deficits. Instead, we've seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade, our deficits cut by two-thirds, a stock market that has doubled, and health care inflation at its lowest rate in fifty years. This is good news, people."
On the SOTU speech by other analysts and pundits:
Danny Vinik, The New Republic:
"The president has spent the first six years of his presidency waiting for the moment he could take that credit, knowing it was coming. On Tuesday night, it came. Even with five separate responses to the president’s address, there was nothing Republicans could say to fight the growing sense that Obama’s policies are working and that the GOP has been wrong for the past six years. "
"Last year, government scientists tell us, was the hottest year on record. This news is terribly — what’s the word? — inconvenient. No, not for polar bears or drought victims or coastal dwellers. It’s inconvenient for politicians across the country who, despite whatever data or overwhelming scientific consensus might be proffered, insist on denying global warming."
A Better Politics “isn’t one where Democrats abandon their agenda or Republicans simply embrace mine,” Obama said. “A Better Politics is one where we appeal to each other’s basic decency instead of our basest fears.”
A Better Politics, he said, “is one where we debate without demonizing each other; where we talk issues, and values, and principles, and facts, rather than ‘gotcha’ moments, or trivial gaffes, or fake controversies that have nothing to do with people’s daily lives.” Personally, I found that last point terrifying. No more “gotcha” moments? No more concentration on trivial gaffes or fake controversies? What on Earth will the press do for a living?
"This is good news, people."
Oh yes it is, but not for the whiners and doom-gloomers who've chosen to see Mr. Obama as their enemy and usurper. They've been wrong on just about every issue, but most spectacularly wrong on their desperate hope for IRS and BENGHAZI! scandals. Bad news for them. Their own GOP House committees have found no involvement in the IRS scandal by the White House and no cover-up by the Obama administration on BENGHAZI! Reality is a beeyotch, innit?
Okay. Now that this yearly ritual is over, we've still got a lot of work to do, and wouldn't it be great if the opposition tried a thing called cooperation? That may be asking too much of a party that has worked to make Mr. Obama's presidency a failure even before he took his first oath of office. The country's mood has changed. The GOP's constant obstruction and petty sniping at everything (tan suit and presidential vacations, e.g.) this president does won't sit well with the American people who are clearly more optimistic and approving of the direction the country is going and the job President Obama is doing.
Observation: John Bohner looked like he had swallowed a $2-a-gallon pitcher of lemon juice throughout the speech. LOL!
Joni Ernst? She was a vast improvement over Jindal and Rubio. Presented well and looked professional. But. Meh. Warmed over Tea Party crumbs for the base. An anti-climax after a great SOTU speech by President Obama.