In Briefs: State of the Union

JESSICA BADER: And there’s the Eliot Engel sighting!

HOWARD MEGDAL: I’m so proud. He’s my Congressman.

JESSICA BADER: Interesting choice to dive right in with the Tucson/civility segment at the very beginning.

HOWARD MEGDAL: Boehner is watery already. I cannot believe it.

JESSICA BADER: So, this is basically the “USA! USA!” chant for left-of-center nerdy types. LOL at the stray clap for Facebook.

HOWARD MEGDAL: Assume it was a rogue Winklevoss twin.
This speech is typical Obama, laying out the groundwork generally, getting into the specifics. He consistently rises above rhetorically because he’s already given everyone listening the same building blocks of knowledge. It’s terrific politics.

DANI ALEXIS RYSKAMP: I remain confused by the analogy among lightbulbs, Facebook, and as-yet-undeveloped clean energy. Which of these things is not like the other…?

JESSICA BADER: Yeah, this is very much Professor Obama, taking care to point out the role that government has played in previous cycles of innovation, and in the looking at how the economic picture has changed noting that productivity gains can be disruptive in the context of jobs.

HOWARD MEGDAL: Sure, he pooh-poohs winning the Super Bowl now, with the Bears out.

JESSICA BADER: *Wonders if Caleb Hanie would have been invited had the Bears won*


HOWARD MEGDAL: It is light on specifics. Only a few here- and that’s an interesting change. Hate to buy into the Obama 2.0 idea, but clearly he’s decided to separate much of the policy substance from his speeches. This is likely a good thing.

JESSICA BADER: Very happy that he’s not shying away from comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act, emphasizing that immigration is good for national competitiveness.

HOWARD MEGDAL: So if I lived in South Korea, my Internet would be faster, and my wife would be a Nation Builder. Also, cheap and plentiful Korean food.
The infrastructure proposal has no dollar amount. Nothing has a dollar amount so far. This is how you stay out of the weeds.

JESSICA BADER: Tax reform is something where he really has to stay out of the weeds and let Congress work it out (with some pushing behind the scenes, of course).

HOWARD MEGDAL: The corporate tax idea is fantastic politics. Getting those tax breaks out of the books by turning opposition into opposing a corporate tax cut across the board. Some SOTU ideas drift into the ether- this one won’t.

JESSICA BADER: I’m trying to gauge the crowd reaction to the free-trade remarks, since that’s something that really does scramble both parties.
This regulation talk is a perfect example of rhetorically feinting towards the center while not giving ground on action, with a dollop of nudging what the “center” is.
And now we’re seeing who’s sitting where as the conversation turns to HCR…

MOLLY SCHOEMANN: Nice jab with “refighting the battles”!

CHRIS PUMMER: South Korea does have much faster Internet.

JESSICA BADER: Ugh at the “government should budget like families do” cliche. You know better than that, Barack.
He’s skating around the Simpson-Bowles stuff pretty deftly so far.

HOWARD MEGDAL: Yes, but what exactly is the point of bringing up Social Security while refusing to take any of the actions suggested?

Tort reform! Tort reform! How does that help the deficit?

Tort reform won’t lower health care costs, either. It hasn’t in the “laboratories of democracy,” and it won’t do it nationwide.
I’m still waiting to hear how he plans to freeze spending and still fix our infrastructure, improve education, and strengthen Social Security.

JESSICA BADER: Re: tort reform, there are ideas that aren’t just “you can’t sue for more than $250K no matter how bad the doctor fucked up” that could help, but Republicans want the other kind.

CHRIS PUMMER: I sort of expected to be underwhelmed by this, and I haven’t been disappointed so far.

HOWARD MEGDAL: I don’t know why the Levins didn’t get the bipartisan memo. Sander is right next to Carl. Forget party lines- they aren’t even reaching beyond their own seder table!
This “we’re bringing our troops home this summer” line has kept liberals from revolting. It won’t if it doesn’t actually come true by, say, this fall.

JESSICA BADER: But the Levins did get the bicameral memo, and lord knows House Dems and Senate Dems have had their issues too.

HOWARD MEGDAL: That Brazil trip is the underrated foreign policy development of 2011.

JESSICA BADER: He didn’t mention our atheist soldiers! Hmph!

DANI ALEXIS RYSKAMP: He didn’t mention our Wiccan soldiers, either! See if I ask the Goddess to bless him tonight! *hmpth!*

HOWARD MEGDAL: And we Jews got demoted below Hindus. So much for Judeo-Christian values. Guess this will feed the unsupported narrative about Obama losing the Jews.

JESSICA BADER: And this is straight-up vintage ’04 Obama.
Did Durbin fall asleep?
Also, unless I missed it, absolutely no mention of gun control.

HOWARD MEGDAL: Yes, you want gun control mentioned in presidential politics? Hope Bloomberg runs someday. Dems aren’t touching it.
Man, Obama couldn’t get away from John Ensign soon enough.
So? Was this a success? A hybrid? If the media repeats that he is now big picture in approach, does it matter if he really was?
And is Sputnik relevant to a nation made largely of people who came of age after 1957?

Probably not, but I had fun interpreting the Sputnik bit as “America needs once again to be intimidated by a flying metal ball that beeps.”

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