Frank Rich: The State of the Union week was another salutary one for Obama

This is a good one from Rich:

Obama’s rhetorical Morning in America is exquisitely timed to coincide with the Gipper’s centennial — and, of course, the unacknowledged start of his own 2012 re-election campaign. It’s remarkable how completely the G.O.P. has ceded the optimism of its patron saint to the president just as the country prepares for a deluge of Reaganiana. Obama’s post-New Year’s surge past a 50 percent approval rating — well ahead of both Reagan’s and Bill Clinton’s comeback trajectories after their respective midterm shellackings — may have only just begun.

There was no drama to Obama’s address — just a unifying theme, at long last, as he reasserted the role of government in rebooting and rebuilding the country for a new century and putting Americans back to work. The president wisely left any theatrics to his adversaries, and, as always, they were happy to oblige.


Obama must be laughing about how the party that spent a year hammering him for focusing on health care over jobs is now committing the same supposed sin. And one can only imagine his astonishment on Tuesday night, when the G.O.P. respondents to his speech each played Jimmy Carter to his Reagan by offering a grim double-feature of malaise and American decline.


Ryan, who has the television manner of a solicitous funeral home director, was darkly warning that America could be the next Greece. Bachmann channeled Glenn Beck to argue that we are living in a nascent police state where government “tells us which light bulbs to buy” (G.E.’s, presumably).

The most revealing moment in either Republican response, though, came from Ryan, who, as chairman of the House Budget Committee, implicitly threatened another government shutdown, or catastrophic fiscal meltdown, if the House majority doesn’t get its way. “The president is now urging Congress to increase the debt limit,” he said with distaste, referring to the vote required possibly as soon as March to allow the Treasury to keep paying its bills. Should the House majority hold that vote hostage to its vision of the budget, it will throw the markets into turmoil and upend our still-embryonic recovery.

It tells you all you need to know about Ryan’s tilt to the right that, for all his professed disapproval of increasing the debt limit during an Obama administration, he voted to do so twice himself during the gushing deficits of the Bush years. Funny he didn’t mention that Tuesday night. It tells you all you need to know about the G.O.P.’s overall tilt to the right that not just the Tea Party is making barely veiled threats to play dangerous political games with the debt limit. Mitch McConnell and Cantor did so last weekend, as have a plethora of potential 2012 presidential candidates, from Tim Pawlenty to Gingrich. The Bachmann-Beck-Palin tail is now firmly wagging the Republican dog.

Like virtually every other week since the shellacking, the State of the Union week was another salutary one for Obama. But the state of the union itself could yet be in the hands of radicals whose eagerness to see the president fail is outstripped only by their zeal to make an ideological point, even if it forces America into default.


140 thoughts on “Frank Rich: The State of the Union week was another salutary one for Obama

  1. This made me laugh:

    “Ryan, who has the television manner of a solicitous funeral home director”


  2. And here’s an important point he makes – why sometimes it just seems so INSANE out there:

    “But the state of the union itself could yet be in the hands of radicals whose eagerness to see the president fail is outstripped only by their zeal to make an ideological point, even if it forces America into default.”

    I see those with an eagerness to see this particular President fail, on both sides. In some ways, they’ve just lost their minds, and they want to take the whole country with them.

  3. Thanks coolegans, I really enjoyed the story. Then I started reading the comments and had to stop, so many angry people.

    Thank goodness for this blog, optimism and enthusasm flow off these pages.

    Hope and encouragement are my motto. In fact yesterday I made the first of what I hope will be a series of videos that focus on how business, government, and communities can work together to make things better.

    Working Together to Improve Health Services

  4. Frank Rich, who spent the months prior to the midterm elections disparaging Pres. Obama and spreading the self-defeatism of the P.L. to his readers, now realizes how dangerous, myopic, and stupid the GOP is. Now he realizes that they pose a threat to the fragile recovery. This is what “progressives” should have been shouting from the rooftops PRIOR to the midterm elections, instead of attempting to sabotage Obama’s Presidency. With friends like these….

  5. Yes, Yes he can please let’s stay focus, and
    ignore the naysayers PBO is the best just love him and BWD what a great site this is.

  6. I’d like to have a serious discussion here about Democratic talking points. This was a key area of discussion at our SOTU watch party that we didn’t have time to explore. Basically people want easy talking points to take to the water-cooler and barbecue and Sunday dinner that resonate. Easily digested concepts that don’t sound preachy and maybe even don’t lead to complex discussions or debate, but that linger like a commercial jingle long after a topic is brought up. I’d like this place to be a hatchery and proving ground for Dem talking points that can be used to get people thinking about something other than the Regressive’s talking points.

    For instance, casually dropped lines like, “We need to invest in our infrastructure,” or “Corporations need to pay their fair share of taxes in this country.”

    I think we also need to learn how to deliver talking points so they don’t lead to conflict or arguments. As Democrats we tend to want to explain things in great detail. I say we practice just dropping one-liners into conversations and then just listen to the results. The results might surprise us.

  7. You’re right, the comments are awful. But someone alluded to some ‘trolls’ being paid operatives of the far Right. I can imagine that.
    Or is that too ‘conspiracy theory’ crazy? When I read these comments, and see how fast and furious their posts are, I wonder. I personally don’t have time to engage more than one go round, but there they are, posting like there’s no tomorrow, the same old diatribes: raising taxes, spending our future, not fixing unemployment… like a broken record, no evidence of a thought behind the comment.

  8. Great line in this article: “He made the Democrats the party of optimism and the Republicans the party of root canal.”

  9. I agree with you; if there is one thing that Republicans do well, it’s talking points. I think part of the problem is that Democrats constantly debate among themselves about what those talking points should be, instead of actually cohering around some. (The left is often criticized for this, but it’s not just them).

  10. Then Senator Obama voted against raising the debt ceiling in 2006, it will be interesting to see how that is used. The GOP could use it against him saying “he did it before, so can’t slam us for doing it now”, but President Obama could use it to show how seriously he takes the debt and how he is very focused on lowering the deficit and debt, but also how we need to make smart cuts while still investing in America to keep it competitive in the future.

    Speaker Boehner doesn’t seem at all interested in doing anything crazy, but is trying to negotiate off of it. I don’t think he has any real leverage there though because everybody knows how catastrophic it would be, including the business community – big and small, who would lose potentially everything if the Government was forced to default.

    Boehner will be looking for coverage from the Obama Administration so he can take something back to the teabaggers who they’ve ginned up into thinking this is what they’re going to make their stand on. For that reason I think there is an opportunity to win some concessions actually, give Boehner something to save face and he’ll give up a lot more in hidden benefits.

    I don’t really believe the Obama Administration expects the simple freeze for five years, but that was their starting negotiation point, earlier that day the GOP voted in the House to set any budget at 2008 levels. So that seems to be both starting points, but the fact that the freeze didn’t get attacked and piled on by all sides should give the Administration further solid footing as people seem to accept the idea. Sure they’ll have to give some, but it will be above 2008 levels. Not to mention the GOP whining about the deficit reaching $1.5T, they seem to be walking into the trap of the fact the deficit rose because of the Bush extra tax cut negotiation – they held out to add the tax cuts for millionaires to the deficit and now want to cut education spending?

  11. No that is not a “crazy conspiracy theory”. During the Bush years, the GOP paid reporters to spread its propaganda (Armstrong Williams was caught with his hand in the cookie jar). Judith Miller at the NYT, was a Bush propagandist who was instrumental in getting us into the Iraq war. It is not far fetched at all that the GOP would finance people to fill comment boards with anti-Obama drivel. They are ruthless in their pursuit of power, I would not put anything past them.

  12. I agree. That’s certainly a picture that summarizes Rich’s 1000 words perfectly.

    I’d like that one framed. Does the Times sell its cartoons like the New Yorker does. Hmmm I wonder …

  13. Steve Benen had an excellent post about this very issue last week. The GOP repeats and repeats and repeats lies and distortions until they become the conventional wisdom. They have extraordinary message discipline. And the lazy media stenographers are too happy to provide the echo chamber.

    It really is frustrating that the Democrats have not been able to find a way to circumvent the media firewall and get the FACTS out to the American people.

    Al Franken said something very funny during the HCR debate that crystalizes the problem perfectly. He said:

    “The opponents of reform have found their bumper sticker, their slogan, their rallying cry, it’s one word: No. You can read that on a bumper,” said Franken. “Our bumper sticker has — it’s just way too many words. And it says, ‘Continued on next bumper sticker.'”

  14. wIw…I am such a fan of what you’re doing on your site. Wow. That video rocks! Please keep promoting your site and doing all the wonderful work. You are making a difference, even if you don’t see the impact in hit counts. It’s a great place to showcase the strength and determination of everyday Americans.

    This is me cheerleading…What IS Working WORKS.

  15. I have saved your site to circle back with some talking points. I’ve had to put a so-called libertarian in his place for sending me Fox News talking points featuring Huckabee. I told him never send me anything regarding Fox talking points ever again. I told him how the SCOTUS gave them the ok to lie to the public. He claims to want “smaller” government. I told him we have a president who is working so we have smarter, leaner and accountable government. Smaller government only gives corporations an opportunity to steal and does nothing to counter our current, lazy, greedy, and dishonest government.

  16. And this is why President Obama’s approvals are going up. People are beginning to realize that he isn’t the bad guy. The bad guys are the House Tea Bags who want to repeal everything Obama has done and accomplished in the past two years, without any counter proposals.

    Of course, the unprofessional left continues to see Obama as tilting to the far right and see Obama’s approvals as a nefarious sign that Obama is picking up Republican support, even though Obama’s poll numbers with Republicans are as low as they ever were. Obama’s approvals are climbing because he’s picking up independent support, these are the folks that Obama needs to win re election in 2012.

    Constructive criticism is what we need. I read Meghan McCain’s column on the Daily Beast and wasn’t that offended, she criticized Obama for failing to get specific… her criticism is mild as compared to the hyperbole masquerading as criticism from the far left and far right. Meghan McCain wants Obama to get more aggressive with his goals, which I agree with. Obama needs to hold more town hall meetings and talk to we the people, that is being aggressive.

    All in all, it’s great seeing the far left and far right talking heads continuing to have egg on their faces. Heck, I believe I read a poster on Huff and Puff post who pointed out on a thread about Obama’s approvals going up that it was Obama’s adult in the room strategy that is paying off… folks are beginning to notice how much of a leader he’s been and are not falling for the repetitive talking points of the cable media.

  17. I agree. As a general rule, Republicans campaign better than they govern and Democrats govern better than they campaign. Thankfully, President Obama is able to defy this axiom, but he cannot do it alone. Since the MSM is comprised mainly of Fox and assorted Fox-lites, we must rely on word of mouth, personal conversations, and sites like this to get the truth out. President Obama seems to have a somewhat solid political base of about 42% of voters. Once he gets into campaign mode, which will be easier since little will be done legislatively, I believe he will persuade enough Independents to accept his vision of our nations future. Some people, on the left and right, are not reachable.

  18. “Republicans, the party of root canal…”

    That line totally made me spew coffee. I’ve had three root canals. Now I know just why I truly despise the Repugnants! ROTFLMAO!!!

  19. David Gregory is a REAL tool, he’ll definitely try to put words in Dems mouths, but he’ll let Repubs say whatever the heck they want to say.

  20. I posted this on the earlier thread, but I think it bears repeating here.

    Re: Boehner, the Tea Party, and the debt ceiling.

    I’ve felt this ever since the midterms: this is the GOP’s swansong. Boehner has two choices: govern, or cater to the teabaggers. If he thinks they’ll be satisfied by the bones he’s throwing them in the first few weeks on the 112th Congress, he is sadly mistaken. The teabaggers want the US gov’t to become a mirror of their values. They don’t understand that not raising the debt ceiling will lead to a Depression the likes of which the world has never seen. They’ve just latched onto the meme that debt = bad, and are against anything that allows debt.

    Boehner will have to make a deal with Pres. Obama, and in this case PBO has all the cards. The deal will be anathema to the Tea Party wing of the House GOP, so the Speaker will have to rely on Dem votes to pass the budget and raise the debt ceiling. That will cause a permanent rupture between the Tea Party and the more corporate GOP. It will probably lead to the Speaker having to cobble a coalition of the Dem caucus and the non-Tea Party GOP caucus to get anything done. Which will lead to another sea-change election in 2012, with PBO on top of the Dem ticket.

    By relying on the Tea Party, the mainstream GOP has signed its own death warrant. This past election was its last gasp.

  21. Is there any place that is keeping track of what the 112th Congress has actually done since being sworn in and comparing it to what the 111th Congress did during the same time period?

  22. Wow, Rich really nailed it here. The dynamic of Obama offering optimism and a plan for America’s future vs. the GOP’s double message of doom and gloom really reminds me of the contrast between the Democratic Convention and the Republican Convention in 2008. That is when the tide turned in my opinion. The GOP seemed angry, mean and small, while the Democrats were optimistic and wanted big things for America.

    I am not sure there is anyone on the GOP side that can match Obama’s optimism for the U.S.

  23. Talking point (sort of buttons and bumper stickers):
    America, where Optimism is spreading.

  24. I’m so tempted to tell Megan McCain to shut up – that some hackneyed, spoiled, silver spoon in her mouth, blogger has no standing or qualification to even tell the President how to do his job.

    But what can you do, that is the freedom of speech that is so precious in this country, that even an dumb ass idiot like Megan McCain has the right to spout off nonsense. Is this a great country or what??

  25. You can use to search for bills passed by each House. It’s kind of a pain to use, but probably the best tool to find what you are looking for.

  26. Well Meghan McCain has been going after the fringe right most of the time… and from what I’ve read, her criticism is actually mild compared to say, Keith Olbermann.

    And it seems the more Meghan McCain speaks up, the more the far right wants her to shut up. They want her to be a sheeple follower and repeat the same old right wing lies, she thinks for herself and I respect that.

    As I posted, we need constructive criticism in order to move forward. Sure, I don’t like the “Obama is a right wing DLC Republican Wall Street sell-out!” hyperbole masquerading as criticism, but at least Ms. McCain offered a rough idea on how Obama should improve: get more aggressive. She isn’t taking the far right opinion of “Let’s repeal and undo everything Obama has done the past couple of years.”

    I agree that Obama needs to get more aggressive: not yell and pout a la Olbermann, but get out to we the people and hold more town hall meetings to get our input. Hold the House Tea Bags accountable by threatening a veto of their political stunts, and daring them to pass their Obama Care repeal etc etc etc. He doesn’t need to be a bully, but he needs to show a sharp contrast between his leadership and what the House Tea Bags consider leadership.

  27. hehe..

    RT @BorowitzReport: Michele Bachmann: “#Mubarak should look slightly to the right of the Egyptian people’s eyes and resign.” #Egypt #Jan25

  28. And republicans are so afraid, that POTUS is taking reagans optimism about america, that they are all on message saying the SOTU was flat! Everyone of them say the same thing! Desperate!

  29. Also, noone,(in the history if US presidents has done more town halls or backyard get togethers than this President), thus, he communciates, but the republicans own the msm!
    The PUBS constant FEAR and doom and gloom worked for them last election, However, I think it is getting stale!
    Also, David Plouffe is in charge of messaging, and I can already tell!

  30. I have always wondered why Armstrong Williams always appears in my rw Middle GA rag. Thanks for the info, EF. Now, I know. He is most likely being rewarded handsomely for his opposition to PBO. I’ve never seen any journalist who doesn’t at some point give credit where credit is due. Even Krauthammer has done this on occasion, but Williams bashes the president every chance he gets.

  31. I remember reading how conservatives invaded a left-leaning site and manipulated the content a couple months ago. They fixed it so that anyone who visited the site would find the rw articles listed first on the results list for a particular topic. I also recall that in GWB’s press conferences, everything was tightly managed. So, yes, some on the right cannot be trusted.

  32. War planes flying low overhead in Cairo.

    Leading Egyptian opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei has joined thousands of protesters in Cairo defying a curfew to demand President Mubarak stand down.

    In a tense sixth day of protests, the army sent tanks into the Tahrir (Liberation) Square in Cairo only to see them blocked by demonstrators.

    Air force jets and a helicopter repeatedly flew low over the square.

    With video.

  33. Paul Krugman also recently called the speech “ho hum.” Maybe we all saw a different speech lol!

  34. I will try to be a bit more open to him, but he has sliced and diced PBO to pieces. My feeling it that this “kindness” on his part will not be long lived.

  35. Krugman is just another disgruntled Hillary Democrat still living in primary season 2008, so no surprise he’d call it “ho hum.”

  36. or to quote Bruce Willis from the first Die Hard movie, “Welcome to the party pal!”

  37. Key Republicans are embracing a major spending initiative outlined in President Obama’s State of the Union address.

    Two top members of the House Transportation Committee said they will push the president’s initiative seeking to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail over te course of the next 25 years.

    “I believe it’s good for America to develop a high-speed rail corridor in the Northeast corridor,” Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), the chairman of the railroad subcommittee, said according to the Connecticut Post. “It’s a place we have to start, we have to accomplish it, because then I believe all of America, in the various corridors around the country, will want high-speed rail if they see success here.”

    Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), the chairman of the whole committee, also said Friday he was “pleased that President Obama has helped to launch a system for improved passenger rail service for our nation.”

  38. LOL @ this BBC live feed post

    “The only Egyptian citizen obeying the curfew is Hosni Mubarak.”

  39. If we’re going to quote Die Hard we have to mention the one that goes “Yippie Ki Yay…”

  40. From BBC live feed

    “As we’ve heard all day there’s constant diplomatic chatter running in parallel to the protests in Egypt. US Defence Secretary Robert Gates spoke to his Egyptian and Israeli counterparts earlier on Sunday, it’s been announced. In addition, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague spoke to Hillary Clinton on Sunday and plans talks with EU foreign ministers on Monday.”

  41. The fact that there were 10 times as many question submitted to you tube this year as compared to last,(140,000 quiestions) just reinforces my belief that we need to use this blog as a hub for using social networking to spread optimism and accomplishments of Obama.

  42. BBC live post

    Khaled Said tweets: “Mubarak’s plan now is to depend on Egyptians getting tired and hungry for food and security. Our plan is to survive. We’re younger.”

  43. Young Munster – I was thinking exactly the same thing – pale skin, dark hair, widow’s peak.

  44. I liked the article but I have to disagree that Obama hasn’t been telling stories all along – I have listened to countless speeches and public appearances and it seems like he is always talking about someone’s personal experience. Like many journalists, Joe Klein just wrote that part off the cuff.

  45. Excellent idea and I look forward to people’s ideas. But I will add this: sometimes you don’t have the one-liners available. In that case, if someone says something critical of PBO or anything else you don’t like, you can just pipe up and say “Well I just disagree with you.” You can say it pleasantly. You don’t have to explain yourself, if you want to embellish it you can just say it’s your gut instinct, whatever. But put your marker down, that’s better than just letting it go without a comment. And sometimes it’s even better than getting into a tit-for-tat with someone.

  46. When it’s largely peaceful resistance it does allow the Government to try to wait it out; to wait for the fever to break.

    I mean the protesters keep on gathering – but then what? They try to cripple the economy (further) and then they’ll be blamed by Mubarak. He could go the “Look, I’m willing to work with them, but they’re not willing to negotiate and as a result all of Egypt is being held captive by them” route and turn Egyptians on each other.

    Maybe a mass hungerstrike could be one protester option, but it would need to be carried through.

  47. Support for high speed rail from Repubs surprised and pleased me, after the several current/incoming Repub. governors who nixed projects (NJ, Ohio, Wisconsin, I think).

  48. So a group of American professors have written a letter urging President Obama to “oust” Mubarak. This is ridiculous. These folks would be the first to scream if another country meddled and tried to kick out our leader.

    I wish they’d all just shut up. President Obama knows exactly what he’s doing. This brilliant president has been studying international politics all his adult life. I believe it was his undergraduate major.

    I wish all the pundits and other know-it-alls would be quiet.

    One thing I noticed is that most of the repubs have been strangely silent. It’s because — as we know — they don’t know beans about foreign policy.

    Sending up many prayers for our president and his foreign policy team.

  49. No, and bomb, bomb, bomb, Egypt is neither here not there.

    Professors?? They know their TEXTBOOKS!

    At least former sports announcers won’t be able to weight in.

    Cheney will be headed to a bunker, just in case.

    And I doubt Sarah can see Egypt from her porch.

    So, the Peanut Gallery is CLOSED.

  50. ‘Tis a good one from Rich.

    I disagree on at least two points:

    There was no drama to Obama’s address — just a unifying theme, at long last

    At long last? Did Rich not listen to the Inaugural Address?

    And, comparing Carter’s “Malaise Speech” to Ryan, imo, is not a good analogy. Yes, Carter’s speech was a bit dreary, but there was truth to what he said. Link, if anyone is interested in reading that particular speech.

  51. Oh, good grief, “help oust” the president of Egypt. In what way, good professors? In the invade Iraq and hang Saddam kind of way?!

    Just got to love the armchair-quarterbacks.

  52. yeah, just what we need… more saber rattling and warmongering from the MSM for ratings.

  53. Okay, I’ve been through the first 300 bills introduced in the House from Jan 6th-8th of 2009.

    So this time in the first 25 days of the 111th Congress, this is what they accomplished:
    Jan 2009
    H.R. 2:
    Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009
    Passed House Jan 14, 2009…signed into law Feb 4 2009

    H.R. 1:
    American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
    Passed House Jan 28, 2009 signed into law Feb 17, 2009

    H.R. 11
    Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009
    signed into law Jan 29, 2009 (wikipedia)

    Passed House but not signed into Law
    H.R. 36:
    Presidential Library Donation Reform Act of 2009
    Passed House Jan 7th 2009

    Anyone know what the 112th has passed besides H.R. 2 Health Care Reform repeal?

    Regarding all the crazy laws the 112th has proposed, well, of the first 300 laws I’ve looked at that were introduced in the 111th in 2009
    Of the first 300 Bills introduced Jan 6-8th 2009
    Passed house: 15
    Signed into law: 6

    15 bills out of 300 passed…only 6 signed into law. A whole whole lot of those 300 bills were from Democrats. I guess I’m not all that worried about most of those 112th bills making it out of committee.

  54. “I have listened to countless speeches and public appearances and it seems like he is always talking about someone’s personal experience. Like many journalists, Joe Klein just wrote that part off the cuff.”

    Yep. One of the first things that teach you at Organizing for America training sessions is to discover and tell your personal narrative. Humans don’t respond as deeply to talking points and white papers. It’s funny that Democrats are the ones that get now and the Republicans are the ones that peddling fear and graphs.

  55. Tigerfists…luv ya, buddy, but remember there are a lot of little ole ladies on this blog who aren’t always crazy about the swearing.

  56. Professor Juan Cole of Informed Comment provides an independent and informed perspective on Middle Eastern and American politics. He has a post today entitled “Egypt’s Class Conflict”. The following excerpts just seems to capture the current state of affairs perfectly:

    Why has the Egyptian state lost its legitimacy? Max Weber distinguished between power and authority. Power flows from the barrel of a gun, and the Egyptian state still has plenty of those. But Weber defines authority as the likelihood that a command will be obeyed. Leaders who have authority do not have to shoot people. The Mubarak regime has had to shoot over 100 people in the past few days, and wound more. Literally hundreds of thousands of people have ignored Mubarak’s command that they observe night time curfews. He has lost his authority.

    Authority is rooted in legitimacy. Leaders are acknowledged because the people agree that there is some legitimate basis for their authority and power. In democratic countries, that legitimacy comes from the ballot box.

  57. Hi Tien le,
    Like you, I’m having difficulty coming up with a comparable list of bills passed (and signed into law) for the the 112th congress:)

  58. At this point, mubarak doesn’t have power even to make his dog listen to him. Since the army is the one that Egyptians still seem to like and since the opposition hasn’t really gelled around one candidate, despite ElBaradei, I think the interim government would likely be led by the army.

  59. Al J – A smart observation by a Syrian.

    “”The most important message is that people can make the change. Before it was always army officers that lead a coup,” said Mazen Darwich, whose Syrian Centre for Media, which campaigns for press freedoms in Syria, was closed by authorities soon after opening.

    “It may not be tomorrow or a few months but I’m sure it is like dominoes. Before there was always an ideology – pan-Arabism or being an enemy of Israel. But now people are simply looking for their personal freedom, for food, education, a good life. The days of ideology are over.”

  60. I know we are watching and having much discussion about Egypt, which is very serious. But today I’ve been taking a stroll down campaign 08 memory lane and I listened to my favorite PBO speech which he gave after winning the Iowa caucus. Electrifying! And when you listen, it’s the exact same message he gave at this year’s SOTU. He has not changed. His goals for this country have not changed. What a president. We are so blessed to have him.

    I hope you don’t mind my posting this.

  61. I’m really kind of “huh” in terms of all of these new-found interventionists. My take on this situation based on such limited understanding is that the real issue here is one of succession, in that the military and the demonstrators don’t want Mubarak’s potential line of succession (his son), and want better leadership to improve conditions in the country. This is an Egyptian issue and has been raised by Egyptians and will be solved by Egyptians.

    The *worst* thing that President Obama could do would be to vigorously pick a side and commit our military to install a regime of any type. That is such a bad idea, and I wish that people would take a second to look at this issue from an outcomes-based viewpoint. I have zero expertise or knowledge in this regard, but from what I have seen of the WH’s leadership, it has hit the right note. People need to calm down; the US is not always the center of everything.

  62. “It may not be tomorrow or a few months but I’m sure it is like dominoes. Before there was always an ideology – pan-Arabism or being an enemy of Israel. But now people are simply looking for their personal freedom, for food, education, a good life. The days of ideology are over.”

    I like this alot.

    Solidarity solely based on despising Israel or America is not going to fix economic, educational and societal inequality. For years, leaders like Ahmadinejad been able to deflect attention from their own shortcoming by pointing to Israel and America.

    Fortunately, our current President consistently undermines that tactic by not being a reliable, meddling boogeyman. If this trend of self-examination and self-determination continues across the Middle East, then the focus would stay on the despots at home rather than the made up boogeymen abroad.

    That is where the focus should be: on self-determination, restoring dignity, promoting economic and social equality at home.

  63. I’ve seen that termed “outcome based viewpoint” used before. I have no idea what it means with respect to politics. Please explain the concept. Thx.

  64. Netanyahu has been completely silent and ordered his government not to say a word. President Obama hasn’t picked sides, just calling for no violence – leaving it up to the Egyptians. This is their time.

    You’re completely right – Give’em no chance to use the deflection of blaming the West. The focus is on Mubarak and the Egyptians.

    If Mubarak some how keeps control, America will be blamed, President Obama will be blamed. But in reality what can he do – there is no Government violence. If he came out in complete support of the protesters and Mubarak used the military in a violent crackdown – what would that mean for America? Would Obama have to send in troops? Or just stand idly by as the uprising he publicly backed was crushed with lives lost and many tortured? Is that what these clowns calling for Obama to do more want? It’s easy to risk others lives from the comfy couch in their mansions.

  65. Makes me wonder if these same people were clamoring for the President to oust Mubarak a month ago before all this happened. Or a year ago? I would bet not. Seems kind of pompous to me.

  66. That’s why I find all this hagiography about Reagan so amusing. The party of Reagan is no more. In their place is a Tea Party that applies evengelical literal interpretation principles to the Constitution, damn the consequences and the rest of the party, reeling from 8 years of failed Bush policies, desperate to have power regardless of their ineptness and watching their party become consumed by this Tea Party nonsense.

    Boehner has one option. Cut a deal with Blue Dogs and make it look like he is “converting” them, while tossing overboard the most rabid of his Teabaggers. We’ll see how he manages this, but the movement away from Tea Party rhetoric in just the first weeks of this Congress speaks volumes.

  67. Krugman knows his time has just passed. We aren’t nationalizing the banks any time soon and he can go back to malpracticing in the classroom.

  68. New Pork tastes better than Old Pork. Politicians can always criticize old tired spending that is falling in popularity if they can embrace new shiny spending.

  69. We will find after this is all over that Obama played a key role in moving Mubarak out of office. He is privy to much more than any pundit will ever know. Yet, they continue to lecture him on “what he should do”.

  70. I mean looking at the measures which they are advocating from the vantage point of a likely outcome, not just what feels good or ego-satisfying. So it’s not just about sending daddy in the WH to straighten out a situation, it’s about taking the time to think about what could happen if the WH took a strong stand one way or another or God forbid committed the US military one way or the other. What might “feel good” could create a negative and counterproductive result. From what I’ve read and my limited knowledge, Egyptians don’t want us involved, and that’s something we should respect instead of feeling as if we have to be in the middle of things which only tangentially concern us.

    Other people might mean something different, but this is what I was thinking with my use of this phrase.

  71. Yup. For too long america had made itself a convenient whipping boy for ME regimes all supposedly in the interest of Israel. Time to let these regimes stand or fall on their own performances.

    Netanyahu staying silent is troubling. What are the Israelis planning ?

  72. People who believe we live in a dictatorship of the wealthy classes believe they can petition that dictatorship to bend to their wishes. Since we don’t live in such a dictatorship they look like fools, regardless of their education.

    What they demonstrate is that they feel powerless over their own lives and rather than consider it a moment for self examination they want to find someone to blame.

    The need to pin blame is the greatest waste of time we as a people, and as a democracy, engage in. I greatly admire Obama for refusing to play that game and understand he pays a political price for it.

  73. I wouldn’t be as strong in my criticism of Meghan McCain as you, but I wondered where the press comes off as giving Meghan McCain credit as a political expert based on being the daughter of a politician. I do not believe that experience just rubs off. It was my same complaint when HRC was given credit for having WH experience as the wife of the President. Not saying there isn’t some knowledge based on living with someone that has a political job. Just saying that same level of experience is not there. For the record being a Senator (HRC) is political experience and she is doing well at her current job. I felt similarly when Tim Russert’s son was given a job at MSNBC however I do think he may have had a college degree in journalism so he did have experience.

  74. Proud of Obama…thanks for the trip down memory lane. Goose bumps. It was this night that I got totally hooked and have been having the ride of my life ever since. Still wake up with a smile and hope everyday knowing he is our PRESIDENT.

    What a gift from the Almighty.

    Thanks again.

  75. If I’m understanding you correctly, then let’s say some armchair quarterback wants some generalized outcome: Get rid of Mubarak. They don’t think about the steps to get to that point, or the unintended consequences of that action, they just want the outcome, no matter what. And by god, Obama better do it now or else.

  76. Here’s what fascinates me. After the watershed victory in Iowa, I was certain that he was going to easily win New Hampshire because it also was having people turn out to vote in unprecedented numbers.

    Then the results came in and I was not a hampy camper. The hope hit a serious setback.

    I needed to hear anything other than the pundits and the opponent that night, especially have the historic high from Iowa.

    So then-Senator Obama gave a concession speech.

    By the end of it, I felt as good as I did when he said those immortal words: “They said this day would never come.”

    I knew I liked the speech. I had no idea felt it as deeply as I did. Well after that speech, people who had been sleepwalking through the historical 2008 campaign starting emailing this speech–a concession speech. By then it was starting to become globally viral.

    How is it that a concession speech can inspire the world? How is it that profound midterm defeat and a lame duck session, set in motion a popularity trajectory that the GOP is hard-pressed to either explain or surpress.

    Every time he’s down for the count and everyone is saying his entire future rests on the words he utters next, he amazes even his most ardent admirers–like me.

    I will always be in awe of his ability not just to get back up, but soar so high he takes everyone else with him.

  77. that is some comment Fired-up- man you speak for me on that night: I called my family while he was giving his ‘concession’ speech that night and said OMG- have you ever heard anyone ‘lose’ so inspiringly? Your comment is so vivid that it took me right back to the many moments he has “soared and taken us all with him”. Thank you~

  78. I disagree, our President has always taken his messgae to the people…the MSM works overtime to ignore, underreport or diminish the message he is delivering. I don’t fully understand their impulses/intentions but they are not functioning as a neutral perspective.

    I don’t want our President to adjust to Republican rules of the game. He has been his own person, his conduct reflects a very high, and responsible standard. He should not lower himself to Republican standards. Increasingly Americans are recognizing the contrast, and appreciating the difference. Additionally, the Republicans need to own their own devices. I think our President’s example goes a long way to impacting what the public deems to be acceptable conduct by our elected representatives, hopefully we will see them holding them more accountable.

    I’ld like Meghan McCain to clarify what exactly being a Republican means to her. Especially, as someone who can be considered wealthy.
    So many people have attached themselves to a label, I find frequently that their reasons for attachment are incongruent with reality. I like to let other people do the talking, I ask leading questions, exposing the incongruities, and hoping that they become food for thought. I try really hard not to participate in arguments, because my emotions will end up getting the best of me.

    I don’t know how I feel about talking points…I think they can do a lot of damage…and Americans in general need to be better informed, not less, and need to exercise their intellect more concerning matters of government. Things are so complex, resolving them is far from simple, talking points imply simple solutions…I know, personally I can’t stand hearing them repeated, and feel as if their purpose is to avoid giving a direct answer.

  79. Thank you rritz for pinpointing the idiocy of those who are so bent on seeing that President Obama fails. They have absolutely no qualms of taking “the whole country” down so long as they reap the benefit of defeating the President. I am glad that sane people are beginning to wake up to the insanity of those who constantly bash and demean President Obama, in spite of many of his positive achievements.

  80. I am with you Elly in MD. What continues to baffle me about the MSM pundits are the claims that somehow we are witnessing a new Obama. Like you, I have been listening to almost every speech the President has made since he took office. You are absolutely right that “he is always talking about someone’s personal experience.” Moreover, he always conveys a sense of optimism about the future. Obviously, many journalists either stopped listening to the President, or bought into the meme, manufactured by the bashers of Obama who were ready to tell us what the President said, without allowing us to hear what the President actually said, that the President was aloof and did not communicate with the average people. The beauty of the SOTU is that the media was forced to broadcast the entire speech without cutting and splicing and proffering their own interpretations. I think the overwhelming positive response to the President’s speech, by those Americans who viewed/ listened to the speech, without the media filters, forced these media pundits to pose and listen to what he said. I am happy that pundits like Joe Klein, who for the most part has been quite balanced in his assessment of the President, are finally highlighting the positive qualities of President Obama.

  81. Remember the story anout Asley Baia at the end of his speech on race? Our president is a storyteller and is able to illustrate a point through capturing a unique but common human experience. The Tucson speech was so moving and tear-inducing because he brought the victims to life, portrayed the magic of Christina Green, the spontaneous bravery of the rescuers and the grief of all trying to cope with such an outburst of insane hatred.
    Remember the little lady in South Carolina with her church hats and her chants: fired up! Ready to go! And we all started saying,
    started feeling fired up,fired up and ready to go. We see ourselves in others, that out of many we are lone, that while we breathe we hooe, while we hooe we change, and there is nothing that a people fired up cannot do. YES WE CAN,
    And of course there is the NH speech, stories that confirm that we will overcome (yes we can)Check out this video on YouTube: the story of yes we can set to music. (can’t figure out how to embed so just click on the link).
    Anyone who thinks are president is too cold and professiorial should listen to his narration of Dreams of My Father. He has a sympathy for his characters and is able to capture their humanity. Such ability comes from a love and appreciation of others, from the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

    Sent from my iPad

  82. He seems to be very like our president on two other respects: organized, careful, no-drama guy, family-centered, and good sense of how to make things happen.

  83. I have to disagree with you about Ms. McCain. I’ve watched her, and I don’t think she really knows what she’s talking about. She’s a favorite with the MSNBC crowd, because she’s pro-gay rights and seems hip and moderate. But, she’s essentially a Republican debutante, who declared that she would team up with any Republican nominee to kick the President’s butt out of the White House.

    The fact is, the President held almost weekly town halls during the November election. He was in multiple backyards, having very effective meetings with neighborhood people – and I found those intimate sessions really informative and open. I think the President has been doing a lot of the “aggressive” things that people are crying for, but the problem is that people haven’t been paying attention. We need to get more curious and more engaged, and more interested in our own futures. We need to be involved and aware and start paying more attention.

  84. If you read the campaign books Plouffe got back from the speech and money was just pouring in over the Internet. You were not the only ones so moved.
    Yes We Can!

  85. You may want to dig dipper to find out why “Williams bashes the president every chance he gets.” Based on his past history, It would not surprise me to learn that may be he is being paid large sums of money to bash the president. People like Armstrong Williams, Allen West, Alan Keys, and Michael Steele, are invaluable to the right wing Republicans. They can relentlessly attack, and denigrate, the President, using erroneous and manufactured facts, while hiding behind their blackness. For students of history – and especially the history of the Civil Rights Movement- Armstrong Williams’ behavior has historical precedent. A good example of that precedent is J. Edgar Hoover ‘s obsession with trying to bring down Dr. King. Hoover used two prongs in his attacks on Dr. King. First, he embarked on manufacturing negative information to use in undermining the moral stature of Dr. King. Second, and equally important, he tried to groom conservative “Black leaders” to be used in a propaganda scheme to de-legitimatize Dr. King-especially in the Black community. The question is: Are people, like Armstrong Williams, being groomed to undermine President Obama, the same way Hoover used conservative “Black leaders to undermine Dr. King? I hope that vigilant people, like all of us in blackwaterdog’s community, will do every thing in our power to defeat these manipulators. In my book, Armstrong Williams, who was paid thousands of dollars to promote fake facts, about Bush’s educational policy, has absolutely no credibility. Although I don’t know the real motive of Mr. Williams relentless attacks on the President, I am inclined to believe that he is being paid very well for his service bashing the President.

  86. How about this story from the first State of the Union:

    “And I think about Ty’Sheoma Bethea, the young girl from that school I visited in Dillon, South Carolina – a place where the ceilings leak, the paint peels off the walls, and they have to stop teaching six times a day because the train barrels by their classroom. She has been told that her school is hopeless, but the other day after class she went to the public library and typed up a letter to the people sitting in this room. She even asked her principal for the money to buy a stamp. The letter asks us for help, and says, “We are just students trying to become lawyers, doctors, congressmen like yourself and one day president, so we can make a change to not just the state of South Carolina but also the world. We are not quitters.”

    We are not quitters.

    These words and these stories tell us something about the spirit of the people who sent us here. They tell us that even in the most trying times, amid the most difficult circumstances, there is a generosity, a resilience, a decency, and a determination that perseveres; a willingness to take responsibility for our future and for posterity.”

    Or this story from the Oval Office National Address on the BP Oil Spill:

    “Each year, at the beginning of shrimping season, the region’s fishermen take part in a tradition that was brought to America long ago by fishing immigrants from Europe. It’s called “The Blessing of the Fleet,” and today it’s a celebration where clergy from different religions gather to say a prayer for the safety and success of the men and women who will soon head out to sea -– some for weeks at a time.
    The ceremony goes on in good times and in bad. It took place after Katrina, and it took place a few weeks ago –- at the beginning of the most difficult season these fishermen have ever faced.

    And still, they came and they prayed. For as a priest and former fisherman once said of the tradition, “The blessing is not that God has promised to remove all obstacles and dangers. The blessing is that He is with us always,” a blessing that’s granted “even in the midst of the storm.”

    The thing about fact-checking is that it always gets in the way of the media narrative. They have a self-imposed burden of filling up a 24 hour news cycle, so they lard it with punditry, Balloon Boys and conflict-mongering.

    It would be nice if one day they filled it with factual reporting.

  87. Someone posted at the end of the last thread that the Israelis have been caught completely off guard – with “their pants down”, as they put it. Of course, the MSM are silent about this, and prefer to focus on the Administration’s “failings”.

    I think the Israelis are just trying to get their bearings, because this wave of change is sweeping the Arab countries, and they are losing their leverage that allowed them to play with the Palestinians in the peace talks. It’s a very interesting time, that’s for sure.

  88. Sometimes a swear word is the only and best way to express an emotion. Best thing to do if it bothers you is just to turn down the sound on your pc 😉

  89. I think PBO has picked a side and he is firmly on the side of democracy and whomever wants to bring that to Egypt.


    Joining the Egyptian army is one of the few jobs that allow Egyptian men to earn enough to get married and start their own families. They are likely to hold the same aspirations as the average Egyptian. “My impression is that these are not politically polarized people,” Cordesman said. Much like the U.S. Army, the Egyptian army is deeply woven into narrative of both Egypt’s history and its national pride. The modern Egyptian army was founded by in the 1800s by a revolutionist, Mohammed Ali, who wanted Egypt to have a strong national defense so that it could split off from the Ottoman Empire. Egypt’s independence in 1952 was a result of an army coup. Its first president as an independent state, Gamel Abdel Nasser, was part of that revolt and became the face of Arab nationalism. Over the past week of protests, Nasser’s photo could often be seen held aloft by protesters. And Egyptians still voice pride at how the army handled itself in the 1973 Yom Kippur War against Israel. It performed far better than the Israelis expected in the early days of the war, and although it lost the final battle, the army earned Egypt respectability and the return of the Sinai. The Egyptian army has even avoided charges of being too close to the Americans, though it accepts $1.3 billion in military aid annually and enjoys extraordinarily close ties to the Pentagon.

    My further reading reveals that the Army also secured Egypt’s independence. Nasser was a colonel, and he broke up the great estates and redistributed land, build the Aswan Dam and other public projects, and practically modernized Egypt and presided over a boom time there.

  91. Please don’t insult smart, thinking supporters of our brilliant and exquisite President, by ever quoting of all people, Megan Mccain!!

    In what universe does a simpleton like Megan Mccain get to give any sort of “advice” to a man of President Obama’s intelligence and stature??


  92. I haven’t read his book yet.. its next on my list though. Also I believe the night Palin spoke at the republican convention was a HUGE night for donations.. we went pretty crazy that night on the OFA site.

  93. Linda, I wanted to tell you how great your site is looking these days. Good job. Great info.

  94. Ninten, I was sick to my stomach when they gave that ashat the job. God. Russert could be a
    jerk too. Remember the debate when Russett made (practically forced) Obama to denounce and repudiate Farakan?

    So, I guess they always want some jerk to fill the job.

  95. theo, I want to repeat everything you said.
    She is just tooo cute by half for me. Every time Rachel has her I wonder, WHY?

  96. It is interesting that this young woman is treated so seriously. I remember she was on Bill M. last year. Celebrity? Why?

    It makes no difference to me that she is McShames daughter. Listing to her snippy little chatter is unbearable.

    And, I agree that she needs to go away.

  97. Like so many people as they get older, they stop moving forward in terms of their beliefs. (By the way, I am older than him so I am not putting down older people.) He got his Nobel Peace Prize which made him famous, and now he needs to defend his ideas so that he can continue to draw attention. He is stuck in a rut.

    When I get really upset with him is when he tries to pretend he is an expert on everything that Obama does. He is not a sociologist nor a psychologist, so stick to your field of experience you freeper.

  98. Are we not become greater than elemetary rylings? Is our intellect still pre-adolecent?
    Gosh, I figured we as a people would back something helping us instead of helping themself too us. This saddens my heart, I believed in us.
    Are we afraid because he is black??? Disgusting…

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