Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Obama speech 'hollow'? - and that's from a liberal

Wednesday morning quarterbacking is all over the place on President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech Tuesday night. Here are a few interesting ones.

We journalists always love fact-checking. Here's an assessment from the Washington Post's Glenn Kessler. A sample?

From Obama: "After years of grueling recession, our businesses have created over 6 million new jobs."
Kessler's assessment: "The president is cherry-picking a number that puts the improvement in the best possible light. The low point in jobs was reached in February 2010, and the there has indeed been a gain of about 6 million jobs since then... But the data also show that since the start of the presidencey, about 1.2 million have been created - and the number of jobs in the economy is about 3.2 million fewer than when the recession began in December 2007."

A quick hit of takeaways from the speech comes from columnist Chris Cillizza: His five? Obama goes big on guns, Obama expresses his vision of government - not bigger government but smarter government, Obama makes a major play for climate change, Obama gives voting rights advocates a victory and Obama talks about the economy, "kind of." What were your takeaways?

The speech got good marks, according to polling, from most viewers. The CNN/ORC poll released after Obama's address on Tuesday found that 53 percent of viewers said they had a "very positive" reaction. The poll also found that 24 percent of viewers said they had a "somewhat positive" response to Obama's speech and 22 percent said they had a negative response to the speech.

But it got whacked by conservative and liberal columnists.

 On the liberal side, Matt Miller called it "Obama's hollow speech."  He said "Obama’s framework was exactly right...  But when you look at the details the White House put out on the president’s proposals, it’s less clear that he’s offering real answers...  Even if Obama’s agenda becomes law, after eight years of the most progressive president in memory, America will still be a country in which work is less well-rewarded, college is far costlier, and poor children’s life chances more limited by accident of birth than in virtually every other wealthy nation. American exceptionalism indeed."

On the conservative side, Jennifer Rubin had this to say:  "If you were expecting a speech with no connection to the real economic problems we face and no concern about our crippling debt, then President Obama’s State of the Union did not disappoint...  Like his inaugural speech, Tuesday’s address has no bearing on the real legislative agenda nor on our economic situation. The debt is crushing the economy, yet the president spends with abandon. Growth remains anemic, yet he raises taxes and labor costs. We are flush with energy, yet he strangles the economy with uber-regulation. And we face a world of threats, yet he hollows out the military. It was a standard issue wish list, with little poetry or uplift, and even less smart policy."

By the way, Obama wasn't the only one with guests at Tuesday's speech. North Carolina's Sen. Kay Hagan said that she "was honored to have Terry Marquez of Aberdeen" as her  guest. "Terry’s presence reminds us that we cannot forget the sacrifices her son, Sgt. Justin Marquez, and so many brave Americans and their families have made protecting our country." 

North Carolina is the first stop for Obama as he tries to sell the initiatives he outlined in the State of the Union speech. He's already in Asheville for a speech.


Skippy said...

Hollow, vapid, arrogant, condescending, straw men, no details, no specfics, just hit repeat. And he is going to focus on jobs, 4 years later 2 months after disbanding this "Jobs Council" that he never met with.

We just doubled down on stupid.

John said...

The problem with it "polling well among viewers..." is that most of us have heard the same things over and over so much, that we didn't even bother to watch. That being the case, a lot more than 53% of the people who tuned in were probably already on the Obama bandwagon!

rb said...

until "journalism" is somehow revived in the USA and the obvious left-leaning print & tv media bias is lessened somewhat, media events such as SOTU will be meaningless crap.

Archiguy said...

The President keeps saying these things because the Republicans keep saying the opposite.

The fact is that Obama understands history, he understands economics, he understands the Constitution, and he understands what it's going to take to make sure America keeps its preeminence in the modern world.

That would be expanded educational opportunities for everyone, better health care for that segment of the population that is currently uninsured, and a focus on research, development, attention paid to the very real risks of accelerating climate change, and repair of vital infrastructure. The government is a necessary participant in all of those things, something the GOP is loath to acknowledge.

In contrast, all the Republicans want to do is what they ALWAYS do - cut taxes on the rich, abolish regulations and eliminate cops on the economic beat, and watch the prosperity just happen. Except it never quite works out that way, does it?

The only time we've had uniform economic growth across all sectors of the population was during the Clinton administration - another Democratic president with much the same agenda as this one.

John said...

Archiguy... you'd make a great comedian!

BTW... Clinton had a Republican House and Senate and realized he needed to work WITH them instead of bypass them to get things done.

Archiguy said...

John, Obama has certainly tried to work with the Republicans, and he's been rebuffed at every turn. He offered compromises heavily tilted in their favor - 10 to 1 spending cuts to tax increases - when proposing budgets during his first term. They had and have no intention of working with him.

When the GOP leaders of the Senate and House both say their primary job is simply to oppose everything the President is trying to do and make him a "one term president", that means THEY, not he, are the obstructionists. This is something that is readily apparent to that segment of the population that has actually been paying attention.

Wiley Coyote said...


You and the rest of your fellow Ed Schultzes conveniently forget Obama/Democrats had the House, Senate and White House for two years and did NOTHING.
The "Republicans won't play fair" is worn out.

Oh, when did you say the Senate was going to pass a budget?

I thought so....

Willy Loman said...

Archiguy, exactly what did Obama do while he had the house and senate? Answer: paraded around the world and blamed Bush while receiving kudos for being the first (half) black president, played hoops and golf non-stop, all while smoking cigarettes......that = NOTHING. If only he would've paid attention to what was actually happening. Too late now. Damage done. Maybe he can run for community officer in 4 years and his platform will be "America needs more jobs...and I will bring that to the table." Ummmmmm, what? You already had 8 years....YOU'VE DONE NOTHING!

Archiguy said...

WC - How do you figure threatening a filibuster to block even DEBATE on a bill, much less passing it, requiring 60 votes to get ANYTHING done in the Senate, is somehow the fault of the Democrats? Have you been asleep for the last four years?

The fact is that the Republicans have raised obstructionism - like the above mentioned filibuster - to a dizzying height never before seen. They have paralyzed government, refused to compromise, and only retained control of the House because of extreme gerrymandering - again, to an extent never before seen.

The Democrats aren't perfect, but at least they go to Washington with the intent of doing the people's business. Republicans seem to have other priorities.

Aubrey Moore said...

Went 8 years and never listened to a Bush speech because I had rather die that have to endure the monotone, simple minded stuff that came out of his mouth. However, I did vote for him, twice. At his best, Obama can make you want to listen, and he was on his game for about half of the speech last night. The rest, I forget because he had little interest in what he was saying, why should I?

Wiley Coyote said...

and all the while Aubrey, he was picking your pocket.

The sad state of affairs these days is whether you like the guy or not and not for beliefs and policy.

Obama has flipped & flopped more than a crappie just landed on a dock.

Jim said...

Opinions are a cinch when you know ahead of time what yours will be.

Wiley Coyote said...


From July 2011:

Senate Republicans want a 60-vote threshold for a debt-limit bill to pass the chamber, but it’s actually Democrats who are enforcing the filibuster on their own legislation, insisting on delaying a vote until 1 a.m. Sunday morning.

Under the rules, to end a filibuster usually requires a vote be delayed until two days after the parliamentary motion is made. But the Senate this year has repeatedly set 60-vote thresholds and held the votes without the two-day delay.

Democrats have the majority in the Senate yet they can't even muster votes.

The Senate filibuster is a longstanding parliamentary tactic, not mandated by the Constitution but used since 1837, to stop overzealous Senate majorities from doing things like nationalizing our healthcare system. Both Democrats and Republicans have relied on it when they were the minority party. Republican Senators used it to block President Wilson from arming merchant ships during World War I. Left-wing populist Huey Long used it repeatedly during the Great Depression to push his redistributionist legislation. Former Democratic Senator Strom Thurmond filibustered the 1957 Civil Rights Act for 24 straight hours, and a group of Democratic senators including Robert Byrd filibustered the 1964 Civil Rights Act for 57 days.

More recently Democrats used the filibuster threat in 2005 to block several of President George W. Bush’s Appeals Court nominees. So Democrats aren’t exactly strangers to relying on the filibuster to get their way.

Democrats have taken the title of Hypocrite Party away from the Republicans. Good job.

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