The speech began with an elegant and elevated opening, but quickly descended into scolding and condescension.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. The fact is, by this time in their presidencies, both of his predecessors had reached across the aisle to seek opposition support for a major initiative (Clinton on NAFTA, Bush on No Child Left Behind). Obama has not one single significant bipartisan initiative to speak of. He has tried to ram through his agenda along strict party-line votes. But the Republicans are obstructionist.His one moment of "humility" came when he acknowledged his biggest mistake of the past year: his failure to adequately explain his policies to all of us. This was a State of the Union for the slow learners. His message to all of us was: "Let me speak slowly for you."
Spending freeze – The AP points out that it will save less than 1% of predicted deficits over the next ten years — and that Obama scoffed at such a plan when John McCain proposed it in 2008.Health care – Obama said the Democratic plan would allow people to keep their insurance and their doctors, but the bill doesn't guarantee either. Their plan has massive cuts to Medicare Advantage, which would definitely affect coverage of a large portion of America's seniors and disabled.Openness: "Obama skipped past a broken promise from his campaign — to have the negotiations for health care legislation broadcast on C-SPAN "so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents, and who are making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies." Instead, Democrats in the White House and Congress have conducted the usual private negotiations, making multibillion-dollar deals with hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and other stakeholders behind closed doors. Nor has Obama lived up consistently to his pledge to ensure that legislation is posted online for five days before it's acted upon."
It's interesting. He is post-racial, by all appearances. You know, I forgot he was black tonight for an hour. You know, he's gone a long way to become a leader of this country, and passed so much history in just a year or two. I mean, it's something we don't even think about.
[Before the speech,] the New Republic's Jonathan Cohn wrote:
Today Obama faces a dire threat to his presidency: A political backlash threatening to destroy his signature domestic policy initiative and, more broadly, his entire governing agenda. Can he give the speech of his political life–again?
I hope he can. But it won't be easy.
After the speech, ... Cohn wrote:
If you follow health care reform, you probably want to know if President Obama saved health care reform with his State of the Union address. The answer is no.
But that's only because there's no way he could save it with just one speech. It's too big a job.
Unemployment still 10%.
Deficit still at record levels.
Debt still at record levels.
Spending still at record levels.
Wars still going on.
Gitmo still open.
Market still skiddish.
Sea levels not rising or receding.
Climate not getting warmer because of humans.
Just another speech by a man who's solution to every problem in the world is to make more speeches.