January 27, 2010


Reaction to the State of the Union

President Obama spent more than an hour making arguments he should have been making for months. He forcefully reminded Americans that he was not responsible for the big problems he inherited. He desperately needed to remind people the historical context and he did it successfully.

Interestingly, it was like a campaign speech designed to appeal to independents. Obama refused to be pulled into the traditional left vs. right polarization that plagues Washington, D.C. It's what got him elected in the first place.

There were also several political moments you might see again in this fall's midterm campaigns. The video of Republicans sitting on their hands while Obama called for banks to pay back bailout funds will almost certainly come back to haunt them.

While everyone knew the president would focus on jobs and the economy, it was nonetheless shocking it took him nearly 40 minutes to get to health care reform. Just weeks ago, it was the most important issue on his agenda. Obama made his case once again but it's far from clear whether Democrats are scared enough or feel the urgency to ignore the confused politics of the issue and pass the bill.

It was a decent speech, but not a great one. However, he saved the best part for last:

"Remember this - I never suggested that change would be easy, or that I can do it alone. Democracy in a nation of three hundred million people can be noisy and messy and complicated. And when you try to do big things and make big changes, it stirs passions and controversy. That's just how it is."

"Those of us in public office can respond to this reality by playing it safe and avoid telling hard truths. We can do what's necessary to keep our poll numbers high, and get through the next election instead of doing what's best for the next generation."

These words were met by silence in the House chamber -- which only emphasized the president's point.


Please let us know your own thoughts in the comments.










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