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Obama's State of the Union Speech

Original post made by Paul Losch on Jan 28, 2010

The State of the Union address by our Presidents of late is purely theater.

Perhaps actor and great communicator President Reagan made it that way. I don't recall his predecessors presenting the type of drama to the event that he did. In fact, one year, Richard Nixon sent a written message to Congress, did not address them on the Congressional dais.

The Democrats stood up and applauded President Obama too many times this year. The Republicans kept their butts glued to their chairs. Two years ago, the same could be said, just change the names of the parties, in terms of behavior as President Bush addressed the same body as the Constitution requires.

It may have some importance for some of the American public. President Obama was poised, thoughtful and even though I am a fan of his, largely ineffectual to this member of the American public.

Lyndon Johnson was a horrible President in terms of how he came across to the American public. I had the opportunity to visit his Presidential Library in Austin in late 2008, and was very impressed with how effective and strong he was behind the scenes, based on recordings and documents that are part of the public record there. (Go visit if you are in Austin, it is interesting!) Admittedly, all Presidential Librarie on the public side have the role of being cheerleaders of a sort for the particular POTUS, but one can visit them and think with a critical mind about what is presented and come to some conclusions. LBJ knew how to work people.

Major things that were accomplished during Johnson's time in office were not visible to us mere citizens until he had them crafted with the key leaders from both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill. This includes Viet Nam, which was his downfall, but also includes major civil rights and such social services as Medicare. Agree or disagree with the policies and laws he got passed, the guy made an impact and got things done. And much of it was in public until it was a done deal.

This President is too smart for his own good, just as his immediate predecessor was too dumb for the public good. Both have Harvard degrees, as do I. (Go figure—i.e. a Harvard degree don't necessarily mean squat, certainly true in my case.)

The journalist Lou Cannon covered Ronald Reagan from his time in Sacramento as California Governor through RR's tenure as President. Cannon nailed it, in my opinion—President Reagan was emotionally intelligent in terms of how he dealt with people. He may not have been the brightest bulb on the tree on other measures, and he had the presence of mind to surround himself with people who shined brighter in their roles as they worked for Mr. Reagan.

Being POTUS is a tough job, and I prefer someone who has the various intellectual capacities sitting in that chair than someone who lacks them.

What I think was first called "The Bully Pulpit" by Theodore Roosevelt just over 100 years ago is not enough.

You also have to be an SOB with the folks down Pennsylvania Avenue. And that is not an intellectual exercise. Or an eloquently presented speech.

Being smart helps a great deal. Emotionally smart.

Comments (19)

Posted by Greg, a resident of Southgate
on Jan 28, 2010 at 5:02 pm

It was typical Obama, full of rhetoric, but no core belief. Here is the acid test: Let him propose a new program to push nuclear energy, and get substantial Republican support in doing so.
The Republicans will cheer him, and help him. But where will the Dems be? Don't worry, it won't happen...it was just a throw-away line.


Posted by Paul (no relation), a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 28, 2010 at 5:23 pm

"Here is the acid test: Let him propose a new program to push nuclear energy, and get substantial Republican support in doing so."

That would be a very effective way to kill nuclear energy for good. The Party of NO! is reflexively opposed to anything Obama. And don't expect Repub support even in the unlikely event president McCain had advocated nucular; nuclear plant licensing reached its peak under Carter and did a dive under Reagan.

I think the theater in the State of the Union is no more than a reflection of our culture. People want entertainment, not edification. That's also why the Iraq war became unpopular - there were no more images of Saddam statues going down, nor of presidents strutting across aircraft carrier decks in harbor.


Posted by Greg, a resident of Southgate
on Jan 28, 2010 at 5:30 pm

Paul, well, Obama could smoke out the Republicans, if he did it (nuclear power), right? However, the people that will be smoked out are the Democrats, because they are responsible for nixing nukes. What's the harm in Obama doing what he says he wants? I fully support him in doing so. Are you?

It won't happen, becasue it was just another throw-away line.


Posted by Paul (no relation), a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 28, 2010 at 6:27 pm

Facts, Greg, Facts. You are way short in the facts department.

I already told you that nuclear plant licensing peaked under Carter (a Democrat) and nuke power took its dive under Reagan (a Republican, I believe). You can easily verify all that if you care to, including the political affiliations.

Then consider this: The Repubs controlled the White House and Congress from 2000 to 2006. You'd think they'd have gotten new nukes going in every state, right? But what did they do for nuke plants during their reign? Nothing. Big...Fat...Nothing. How much did they try to do? Nothing. Big...Fat...Nothing.


Posted by Greg, a resident of Southgate
on Jan 28, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Paul, your "facts" are not facts. Reagan was a strong supporter of nuclear power. Republicans, generally, have been big supporters. The nixers of nukes have been anti-nuclear activists, mostly of the liberal bent, thus Democratic persuasion. Reagan got caught up on the activist anti-nuke hysteria, and was barely able to get nuke plants supported, since so many regulations had been put in place that suppressed nuclear power. Now, Obama has called for nukes. Do you support his call, Paul? Do the Democrats in Congress? The Republicans do, and almost certainly would support him, as long as it is not tied into something else...just a simple up or down on nuclear power.

The real deal is that Obama will not support nukes. He is so flim flam, that even he doesn't know what he believes. He might offer it up as a sacrificial lamb, in order to get single payer health care, or something of the kind. However he will not support nuclear power, because he does have the spine to take on his base.

It was a throw-away line.


Posted by nuke'em, a resident of Stanford
on Jan 28, 2010 at 6:48 pm

If the Republicans are so desperate to get more nuclear plants, why don't they volunteer one of their districts to house a national nuclear waste dump? Obama says he is interested in "safe nuclear power", but nuclear power is not going to be safe until there is a safe and secure storage facility for all the radioactive waste.

No such facility exists in the USA right now. Think of all the jobs that would be created in building and maintaining such a facility. Come on, Republicans. Volunteer your district to house the waste, then we can talk about building more nuclear plants.


Posted by Greg, a resident of Southgate
on Jan 28, 2010 at 7:30 pm

Nuclear "waste" is actually a resource. Too complicated to explain right now. We do have a safe place to store this resource. It is called Yucca Mountian, in NV. However, one of the first things that Obama's anti-nuke forces did was to put this off the table.

Obama thinks he is being cute by spouting throw-away lines, but his failure to have a substantial belief in anything will always sink him into oblivion. I hope he proves me wrong, and makes a strong play for nuclear power. We need it. We badly need it.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 28, 2010 at 8:01 pm


They key events last night were when the audience laughed at Obama re his global warming gaffe, they did not laugh with him, they laughed at him-- a narcissist is devastated by ridicule and his masked slipped.
The other was Alitos version of " You Lie", Alito has life tenure, Obama has 4 years.
Obama knows he lost last night that is why he has just done a 180 on the 911 terrorist trial in NYC, he is on defense.

He will start firing key advisers soon, who will be first after the NYC 911 reversal ?


Posted by Greg, a resident of Southgate
on Jan 28, 2010 at 9:30 pm

Paul Losch,

I think your read on Reagan is not quite correct. Reagan was not an intellectual, in the classical sense, but he was actually smarter than the intellectuals that surrounded him. Those intellects that surrounded him were stuck in old ways, including containment of the Soviet Union. He refused to accept their antiquated thinking. He wanted the Soviet Union to be defeated. His thinking was based on his deeply felt understanding of the glory of individual freedom, a notion that was not popular in his days in power, even among his own party members. He won, they lost.

Obama is very thin, probably because he does not have a 'there', there. He has often been criticized for his lack of an inner strength, and his SOTU was more of the same. Reagan brought forth themes with deep conviction, and follow through. Yes, they were both theatrical, but not all performances are equal.


Posted by Disagree, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 29, 2010 at 6:02 am

I was willing to read your post, Paul, until I got to the "its Reagan's fault" part.

sigh..

One of my favorite Reagan quotes is "It's not that liberals aren't smart, it's just that so much of what they know isn't so"

Ronald Reagan

We need to always remember that "education" does not a good person or good leader necessarily make. A long list of "elite educated" evil-doers we have seen in this world can prove that point, starting with Pol Pot's education in France and going through the world to come to Dr. Mengele.

In fact, I have come to the conclusion that the more "educated" and "Awarded" a person, the less I should trust him or her, because they come to believe they "know better" what is good for me than I do...sorry, a PhD or MD in whatever subject, or a prize/award by some small group, does not give anyone the ability or right to take over my life or my will.

And I believe that is pretty much a majority opinion in the USA..we fundamentally, regardless of political affiliation and beliefs, don't like to be told what to do, except for that appalling numbers of people that, out of the kindness of our hearts and generosity of our spirits, we have crippled, and continue to cripple, through creating huge dependency issues.

I believe that is at the root of the disaffection of many, if not most, people who voted for Obama. The root conflict with what is American has been exposed, and it is the ruling elite of the Dem Party ( the ruling elite attitudes of the Repub party have been made a minority nationally, and within the party itself..and those left are continuing to be voted out)...

I look forward to the "I know what is best for you" attitude being voted out in both parties, so we can get back to govt by the people, not over the people.


Posted by The Real Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 29, 2010 at 8:10 am

My, my, the unabated denigration of President Obama continues from Sharon, Is anyone surprised by her comments?

"They key events last night were when the audience laughed at Obama re his global warming gaffe, they did not laugh with him, they laughed at him-- a narcissist is devastated by ridicule and his masked slipped."

ANd you know they were laughing at him how? Not sure what you are actually referring to, but you must have imagined something to make the above comment.
I actually wonder who the narcissit is.

"The other was Alitos version of " You Lie", Alito has life tenure, Obama has 4 years."

Looks like you imagined something else there. I thought you were against activist judges, Sharon. Or is it just Democratic judges who may be activists--go back and read your comments about SOtomayor.

"Obama knows he lost last night that is why he has just done a 180 on the 911 terrorist trial in NYC, he is on defense."

Listening to advise and making changes based on other's input and concerns is considered a loss? Looks like you are adhering to much to the Bush/Cheney school of thought.

"He will start firing key advisers soon, who will be first after the NYC 911 reversal ?"
I don't know, why don't you tell us. Do you have this information from internal sources or is it just your imagination again?


Posted by Paul (no relation), a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 29, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Flip: "Let him propose a new program to push nuclear energy, and get substantial Republican support in doing so."
Flop: "Obama thinks he is being cute by spouting throw-away lines"

So which should we believe, Greg, your flip or your flop? I think your flop is your real position; in fact, it will be the Republican line. They aren't going to support anything Obama proposes, no matter how good an idea it is, and your flop will be one of their many custom-made excuses.

"Reagan got caught up on the activist anti-nuke hysteria"

As I pointed out, many more nuke plant licenses were issued under Carter than under Reagan. We must therefore conclude that Carter was much better than Reagan at resisting activist anti-nuke pressures. Reagan seems a wimp in comparison.

Same with Republicans: The Repubs controlled the White House and Congress from 2000 to 2006. You'd think they'd have gotten new nukes going in every state, right? But what did they do for nukes during their reign? Nothing. Big...Fat...Nothing. How much did they try to do? Nothing. Big...Fat...Nothing. How much did Bush 43 propose? Yeah. Those activist anti-nuke pressures musta had 'em all quaking.

Reagan defeated the Soviet Union? Hah! The CCCP went out of business in December 1991, 3/4 ways through Bush 41's term. All Reagan did was pal around with Gorby and Raisa.

BTW, thanks to my namesake for starting and protecting this thread. It's like the good old days again.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 29, 2010 at 2:30 pm



I thought that Obamas British-parliament-type exchange between the President and GOP Congressmen today was much more interesting and informative than his SOTU event.

Todays sort of dialog should happen more often, a sort of Prime Ministers Question Time.

It will be replayed on CSPAN


Posted by Greg, a resident of Southgate
on Jan 29, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Paul,

I am always hopeful that major politicians will come to realize that nuclear power is essential. I don't think Obama is sincere about his throw-away line, but I hope I am wrong. Just today I was listening to NPR, and the new leader of the Sierra Club was on. He was typically anti-nuclear AND a big Obama supporter. I think there is a snowball's chance in hell that Obama will propose something serious, stand alone, in favor of nukes. I also hope I am wrong. If that makes me a flip-flopper, so be it.

I will leave you to your own distorted thinking about Reagan, who was a big supporter of nukes.


Posted by To Sharon, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jan 30, 2010 at 7:16 am

Sharon:

I love the way the Brits put their President up on the podium, then grill him/her from the equivalent of their Congress, with questions and answers flying back and forth freely...no teleprompter, on public view.

Did that happen here and I missed it?

What was it called? Was it a good, intelligent exchange? Did the Repubs refresh his memory on all the proposals from Repubs that he has completely ignored over the last year? ( His right to do so, of course, and I am frankly delighted he did, since America sees the results of an unmitigated far left agenda on all aspects of our country, and the world).

I actually hope he keeps dissing and ignoring the majority of Americans. I don't want him to listen to the Repubs, actually, cuz then most Americans, when things start improving, will think it is the ideas of Dem party and Obama that are making things better. Then we have a Clinton situation where all that went better was because of "Clinton" and all that got worse was because of "Repub Congress" when, in fact, it was the opposite. No thanks. I want the American people to learn what is Republican, unmasked, and what is Democrat, unmasked, then vote accordingly with real-life data and real-life effects fresh on their minds in the voting booth.

So, keep it up Dems/Obama/Reid/Pelosi/Frank!!! Keep it up until only 30% of the nation is confused up what is up and what is down. Right now about 40% are, but I want a stronger base so we can reach the tipping point in our political discourse and tilt back upright.


Posted by Link to proof that the Bailouts were a bad idea, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jan 31, 2010 at 6:50 am

Web Link

This is why the Repubs went down in flames, and the Dems are going to go down in flames next.

They both have to learn..stop messing with the market..stop screwing up incentives and motives by picking winners and losers.

This is why any govt takeover of anything is a bad idea in the long run...it doesn't let the patient heal naturally, it just keeps the wound open and festering longer.


Posted by Anon, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 1, 2010 at 11:13 pm

This SOTU was theater, just like all the others by all presidents since Woodrow Wilson. Brave of President Obama to challenge the Supreme Court though. The current court majority seems to have a religious conviction that corporations are people-- only people who are more equal than us mere mortals.


Posted by Um..yes, Corps ARE People, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 2, 2010 at 6:01 am

Anon, in the real world, corporations ARE people. Who works for them? Who owns them? They pay taxes like "people", they are regulated like "people" and they are fined/jailed like "people". They go broke like "people" and they earn money like "people"...What else do you think a corporation is?

Geez


Posted by R Wray, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 2, 2010 at 9:21 am

Re Sharon's post above about Obama declaring in his State of the Union address that the evidence on climate change is overwhelming, see the short clip below. As one blogger said: "First the audience laughs, then Pelosi, next Biden and finally Obama himself smirks at the insanity of his remark."

Web Link


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