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President Obama showed anew Wednesday night why he got elected – and why he remains the dominant political talent in America today.
His speech was masterful. His tone was perfect. And he smilingly skewered a range of targets – Republicans, Democrats, Supreme Court, big banks, you name it.
But his positioning was even more important than his performance.
The key to his speech was a warning to Republicans in the Senate. In effect, he said that, if Washington doesn’t produce this year, you’re to blame.
Republicans have been in high spirits since the Massachusetts election. If they have any sense, they’ll realize they’re on the court with the political version of LeBron James.
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# rush
Thursday, January 28, 2010 11:29 AM
You must be kidding.You are so out of touch you will never know what hits you this Nov.
Thursday, January 28, 2010 4:09 PM
How many times did he blame Bush for his screw ups?
The over and under was 6!
How many times did he say I.
The over and under was 25!
If republicans had any sense, they realize they are on the court with a lunatic!
Heck he even needs teleprompter for grade school children.
# Brunette
Thursday, January 28, 2010 6:15 PM
Right on target as usual, Gary!
# Dan
Friday, January 29, 2010 12:01 AM
I'm really kind of surprised at the lack of constructive, substantive dialogue in the comments. Considering the quality of the posts, I would think we could do better than just berating each other.

To Gary's point, I think Obama's line about Republicans sharing in governance is an indicator of his strategy for this year. If everything in Senate is going to require 60 votes, and Democrats have 59 (at very best), Republicans will be held responsible for what doesn't get done.

The Republican counter to this has to be careful. Their obstruction strategy has clearly worked politically to some extent, but it's also clear that folks think Washington is too grid-locked. It may be time for some Clinton-era bargaining, if they can stomach it.
# Brunette
Friday, January 29, 2010 7:13 AM
Dan, if you're really surprised at the lack of constructive, substantive dialogue in the comments, you haven't been following this blog for long.
# Carbine
Friday, January 29, 2010 10:27 PM
The only people who are going to "hold Republicans accountable" for being "obstructionists" are those who would never vote for one anyway. Independents will determine the outcome of most elections in North Carolina this fall, and they will not be impressed by Democrats whining "Oh, those 41 mean Republicans won't let us 59 Democrats do what we want!" That line of arguement makes them look weak and ineffectual.

But I hope they stick with it. If the Democrat leadership really believes that strategy will work, they will continue to ignore Republican ideas and shun compromise, thinking that the public will "hold Republicans accountable" for their own inability to get anything done. That should make for a much happier election night than the one we suffered through in '08.
# Dan
Saturday, January 30, 2010 5:09 AM
Carbine - you may be right, because polls are indicating that the public doesn't understand that you need 60 votes to get anything done in the Senate. There are hundreds of routine, non-controversial sub-cabinet appointments that are being held up because they have to get 60 votes for anything to pass.

If voters think, as Carmine seems to, that a majority allows Democrats to move forward with their policy plans, then they certainly won't hold Republicans accountable for any lack of action on health care, jobs, or even appointments to bureaucratic positions.
# Carbine
Saturday, January 30, 2010 10:18 AM
Dan, I think you missed my point. The strategy the Democrat leadership seems to have adopted of trying to get major, controversial policies enacted without meaningful participation (which entails meaningful compromise) of the minority party isn't working, either practically (by passing bills) or politically (by blaming Republicans).

The fact is you don't actually need 60 votes to get 'anything' done in the Senate. If that were true there would be far fewer laws on the books today, since we've rarely in our recent history had majorities of 60 or more in charge. You need 60 votes to win on those things the minority is willing to take a make-or-break stand on, and the radical agenda set by the Democrats has forced the GOP in to that position on several issues.

As for appointments, last I heard the current administration is fairing no worse than the previous one in getting its people on board, despite having already picked some amazingly incompetent ones (Eric Holder, Janet Napolitano) along with a whole host of tax-cheats and leftist ideologues. Would that the Republicans had been a little more obstructionist when those dogs were trotted out.

# Aristotle
Saturday, January 30, 2010 12:42 PM
This editorial from the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper is a much better ananysis of Obama's SOTU address that Gary's wishful thinking above:

Union-Tribune Editorial

A missed opportunity / Speech shows Obama in denial over fear of his agenda

Thursday, January 28, 2010 at 12:04 a.m.

In his legendary Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln turned out to be quite wrong when he said “the world will little note, nor long remember” his remarks. But in general, presidential speeches are far from memorable.

We had hoped President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address last night would be an exception. Millions of the Americans who voted for him in 2008 are recoiling from Washington’s massive deficit spending, its bailouts of Wall Street, insurers and automakers and its attempts to radically remake the U.S. health care system. These largely centrist, independent voters were not seeking an administration whose members saw the nation’s economic crisis as an “opportunity” to impose drastic change. But that is what they got – and is what they are now rejecting.

We hoped Obama would use his speech to acknowledge his misjudgment of the national mood. We hoped he would outline a new agenda, focused on economic growth and a much more sober attitude about federal spending.

It didn’t happen.

In fairness, his decision to end the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military, if handled adroitly, could prove a coup. His push for tax breaks for small businesses that hire new workers is overdue.

But his claim that “green jobs” are the path to economic nirvana is fantasy. His attempt to tamp fears about out-of-control spending flopped. Touting a spending cap on a limited part of the budget while hundreds of billions of dollars are still forecast to be added to the national credit card each year isn’t reassuring. And his decision to blame his health care setbacks on partisanship and poor marketing – instead of a lack of public support for his proposal – was deeply disappointing.

It’s as though Scott Brown’s shocking win last week in the Massachusetts Senate race never happened. It’s as if all the polls showing mass pubic anxiety over ballooning national debt didn’t exist.

The president is right when he says the “deficit of trust” felt by Americans preceded his election. But he only adds to that deficit when he concludes that what the nation wants is a better-executed view of his extreme initial agenda. Instead, the public wants a much more pragmatic, centrist version of this agenda – and a laserlike focus on reviving the private-sector economy.
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