Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Obama: 'Fighting words' or 'unremarkable'?

Good morning. Welcome to O-Pinion, the Observer editorial board's online center for commentary, discussion and debate. I'm associate editor Fannie Flono and I'll be your host today.

Of course, the president's State of the Union address is getting the lion's share of political buzz though it's getting upstaged a bit by news that just before President Obama gave the speech the Navy SEALs he praised in that talk had just conducted another successful clandestine operation - the rescue of two aid workers being held hostage by Somalians. The Navy SEAL group also conducted the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Obama didn't give a clue during his speech of the hostage rescue and that reminded folks of his unflappableness at a press dinner just before the Bin Laden operation took place. He's shown he is calm under fire and he can keep a secret.

But about that speech, liberals were deeming it "Fighting Words" as Obama touted "the state of our Union is getting stronger," and said, "as long as I'm president, I will work with anyone in this chamber to build on this momentum. But I intend to fight obstruction with action, and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place."

On the conservative side, the Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes had this to say about President Barack Obama in an item titled: "An Utterly Unremarkable Address": "There were some nice patriotic touches, a passel of small proposals, and old ideas like soaking the rich in President Obama’s State of the Union Address. But mostly the speech consisted of an effort to make a big deal out of not much."

The Standard's Bill Kristol took on Obama's military comparisons: "Let’s think about an America that looked more like the military. That America would have a culture that’s at times tough and even harsh. It would have a mode of organization that’s strictly hierarchical and at times unforgiving. It would feature a regimen that weeds out those not up to the task and subordinate individual comfort to the achievement of a difficult mission. But that isn’t the America Obama wants to bring within reach. That isn’t the kind of America Obama’s policies seek to produce. Obama’s America is soft, understanding, forgiving, and entitled."

The Republican presidential candidates took their shots at Obama too:
Former congressman Rick Santorum: "From beginning to end, the American people heard more of the same - empty promises and grand platitudes that will do nothing to help the millions of Americans who are unemployed or under employed find a good paying job."
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich called the speech "left-wing populist warfare": "The rhetoric was terrific. His actions haven’t been. I find the gap between President Obama's words and his deeds to be astounding. He ran on bringing us together, yet last night he seemed to set up a year of divisiveness, of getting nothing done.”

Did you miss the Tea Party response from former pizza mogul and GOP candidate Herman Cain who suspended his candidacy? A lot of people did. Here's the luffington Post's Jason Linkins' take: "Herman Cain improved on the performance of his predecessor, Michele Bachmann, and managed to deliver the standard Tea Party talking points against the Obama administration, but he didn't do much to prove the necessity of a Tea Party rebuttal."

Gov. Mitch Daniels got good marks for his Republican response even from a liberal pundit, Chris Matthews: "I really liked that speech," he said, saying that Daniels displayed "Midwestern conservatism of the best kind" and "recognized that the rich can't plunder the poor anymore." While dismissing what he called the "bromides and idiomatic crap that he threw in there to make everybody happy," Matthews said that he now understood "why people like Mitch Daniels."

There's some intriguing commentary on Gingrich out there. This one from Michael Hirsh in the National Journal, called "Contemplating a President Gingrich" is getting some eyes. In it, Hirsch says, "Almost anyone who's covered Newt Gingrich for any number of years -- I have since the '90s -- has found it difficult to imagine that the country is so pathologically bent out of shape that Newt could end up as president...But maybe we really should think about the prospect of a Gingrich presidency, simply by default. The first reason was the appearance of Calm, Reasonable Newt at last night's debate in Florida. Obviously Gingrich and his handlers have agreed he will need to suppress his true extreme self if he's to get to the White House. ... The second reason is that it's no longer deniable that Mitt Romney has a tin ear for the ages, and that what once seemed a golden resume has turned toxic...Among his fellow patricians, Mitt is so out of touch he makes George H.W. Bush look like a man who really did eat pork rinds and knew what it was like to stand on supermarket checkout lines."

Chris Yates in the National Journal weighs in on Gingrich's Freddie Mac connection in a piece called "Latest Freddie Mac Contract Describes Gingrich as a Hired Gun": "A contract released by Gingrich's former consulting firm shows that while he may not have been a lobbyist by Washington's definition, he was getting paid to be a political and policy heavy on the mortgage giant's behalf. The contract paid The Gingrich Group $25,000 a month and ran between May 1999 and December 2000. And Gingrich answered to Freddie Mac's senior vice president of government relations Mitchell Delk, himself a registered lobbyist. "


Garth Vader said...

"Somalians"? "Unflappableness"? Have the budget cuts at the Observer forced you to sell your Style Guide?

Garth Vader said...

Since the Observer won't even acknowledge his existence, I present Ron Paul's response to the SOTU:

"Tonight, President Obama once again showed that he does not represent the fundamental change this country needs. Instead of offering solutions to the problems our country faces, the President was intent on delivering a campaign speech, further dealing in the typical Washington political gamesmanship that has gotten us exactly nowhere close to improving the lives of the American people.

"In a speech where much of the rhetoric was devoted to job creation, it was strange that President Obama would brag about his job-destroying national health care plan, Obamacare, and the Dodd-Frank bill, which, contrary to the President's claims, guarantees future taxpayer bailouts of large institutions. Unfortunately, President Obama's 'job creation' policies amount to little more than continuing to allow government bureaucrats to pick winners and losers, which is a recipe for continued economic stagnation.

"President Obama claims to want an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. Yet he remains committed to the same old system of debt, deficits, bailouts, and cronyism that created our economic problems. The President speaks of giving us energy independence from unstable nations, yet he refuses to allow the type of development needed to achieve this goal, while at the same time his administration hands out favors to the politically connected - those given to the likes of Solyndra, who fail to produce jobs or energy but succeed in ripping off the taxpayers.

"Of course, President Obama refuses to even mention the role the Federal Reserve plays in creating an economic system where some are denied a fair shot or even to support my efforts at bringing transparency to the Federal Reserve. Also not mentioned by President Obama is the very crucial need for reining in spending and balancing the federal budget. What is called by some 'the greatest threat to our national security' seems not to be of great importance to this President, although I, like many Americans, believe it to be cause for immediate measures, like the $1 trillion in spending cuts that would take place in my first year as President under my Plan to Restore America.

"In the area of foreign policy and civil liberties, President Obama's rhetoric may be different, but the substance of his polices - as shown by his administration's defense of the TSA's treatment of my son, Senator Rand Paul, is hardly 'change we can believe in.' No wonder more and more Americans, especially young people, are rejecting the phony alternatives of Obama and establishment Republicans and embracing my campaign to Restore America Now."

Anonymous said...

I didn't watch the address live, but I did watch it this morning. I was not impressed. Why? The faulty reasoning behind "tax the rich more and all problems will be solved" is so elementary and obvious, it makes me ill to hear Democrats continue to parrot it.

The fault behind this reasoning is that total income earned and total taxes received are NOT zero-sum games. Late in the address, the President said of tax breaks for the wealthy, "when I get tax breaks I don’t need and the country can’t afford, it either adds to the deficit, or somebody else has to make up the difference – like a senior on a fixed income; or a student trying to get through school; or a family trying to make ends meet." In order for this statement to be true, you must accept the assumption that the total dollar amount of taxes the government receives is finite, that the tax revenue pie can only be one size. Only then is it true that every dollar a rich man doesn't pay is paid by someone on the other end of the economic scale.

But that number is not finite, which makes the President's statement false. We conservatives think the answer is to bake a bigger pie. How do you do that? You lower taxes for EVERY tax bracket, especially corporate income taxes (and stop the asinine practice of taxing income earned by companies in other countries a second time in the USA while we're at it; that's why all those trillions of dollars are sitting in offshore accounts because they have already been taxed by the country they were earned in). The more money people and companies make, the more they will carry on the behaviors that led them to earn money in the first place. If, the more money you earn, the less of it you get to keep, there will come an income level where you say, "I will stop earning here to avoid higher tax rates." That is why tax increases decrease tax revenue, and tax decreases increase tax revenue. Even the quite liberal JFK understood this and oversaw a great tax cut while he was President.

So I am tired of hearing "tax breaks for the wealthy," the rich "aren't paying their fair share," "greed" and the like from Democrats who are determined to foster a class hatred culture and further divide the country. I want to hear about tax cuts for everyone, scaling back some of these ridiculous regulations like ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank, and thus putting more money in everyone's hands, lowering the cost of doing business and turning this thing around.

I will give the President props for the "crying over spilled milk" joke. Not quite as good as last year's "I hear it's even worse if they're smoked" salmon joke, but good nonetheless.

Garth Vader said...

Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss

Linda said...

It is true that the wealthy have privileges like lower tax rates. It is not "class warfare" to notice this and want to do something about it. The GOP is so stuck in hating Obama that they won't even consider what's good for America if they'd have to cooperate with Obama to get it. I watched their sour faces during his speech. Ugly, sour, hate-filled ...