I actually watched and read the speech this time. You can find full video to the State of the Union address here and a full transcript here.
I would just like to start with a few observations. Michelle Obama looked very well to night, but I did catch her looking like she was nodding off a few times (see 10:50 mark in video). Obama looked well too, but he is clearly looking a lot grayer than last year.
Like the last time Obama address Congress a few months back, I find these gratuitous standing ovations ever so annoying. This isn’t a partisan nitpick; I hated it just as much when it happened under Bush. This whole concept of giving standing ovations, like trained seals ,over the littlest of things seems so intellectually infirmed and childish. Congress should be a more serious place and as such should save standing ovations for when a president makes an absolutely prodigious statement, like we have won a war, we have erased our deficit, we just landed on Mars, etc. Congress, please knock it off.
Things that stood out to me:
Public Anger: In the opening remarks Obama touches on public unrest, but describes it in terms of the little guy vs. the big guy (banks, Wall Street, etc) but only alludes to government and describes that as a lack of partisanship? This is troubling if he does not understand that a lot of the public’s anger has to do with his policies and the Democratic controlled Congress’ behavior.
Bail Outs: This is where Obama introduces his Bank Fee. He makes no mention that many banks were asked to take TARP who did not need it. Nor does he acknowledge that this fee can and most likely will be passed on to the banks’ consumers.
Stimulus: The Stimulus was totally misrepresented. Obama referred to 95% of Americans getting a tax cut. It was a tax credit that you will have to pay taxes on next year.
Small Business: Using $30 billion in TARP to give to banks to make loans to small businesses. This sound an awful lot like the Community Reinvestment Act that got us in trouble in the first place. Obama seems to think that banks are willy nilly in their lending and that is why they are only giving loans to certain people. Again, government stepping in to dictate who to lend to is how we got into trouble in the first place.
Eliminating capital gains tax on small business is a good idea, but why not do it across the board for everyone?
Health Care: All I can say is Holy Crap! Does Obama actually think that he did not do enough explaining on health care? Does he actually think all that vote buying and backdoor wheeling and dealing was merely lobbyists and horse-trading? Talk about a complete disconnect, he didn’t even recognize the anger people feel over the policies and the process.
The Deficit: Total blame Bush action here. No mention of his contributions to skyrocketing the deficit. He introduces his smoke and mirrors spending freeze and then talks about going through the budget line by line. Where have we heard that BS before? He says the Bipartisan fiscal commission will not be a Washington gimmick but that is exactly what it is.
Publishing earmarks online: I had to have a big chuckle over this. Wasn’t these entire thousand page bills supposed to have been posted online before being voted on? I do recall Democrats reneging on this and even sneaking in hundreds of pages of amendments just before the vote. I expect this online earmark nonsense to be completely ignored by both parties.
The perpetual campaign: I cannot believe this man can chide Congress for running a perpetual campaign when that is basically all he did throughout last year. I would even go as far as to say this State of the Union address was like a campaign speech.
Overall: Overall I found this speech galling. Obama seems to still be in lecture mode. He was lecturing Congress and the American people on what should be proper behavior and discourse, yet there he stands completely failing in so many of the those very things. Unless you were out of the country for all of 2009, I cannot imagine who anyone could not have been stunned how Obama ignored his culpability.
The second thing about the speech I noticed was that much of his higher talk seemed to be geared more to rallying the Democrats. Was he slyly giving them a pep talk to revive ObamaCare? Sure seemed like it to me.
What were your impressions?
Via: The New York Times