State Of The Union 2010

Thoughts as they occur to me:

  1. There are probably a lot of people out there more interested in the premiere of the iPad than in the President laying out his agenda for the next year.
  2. The whole Supreme Court is right there.  Alito looks so — small — compared to Obama.
  3. Obama’s Desire to associate with Lincoln continues.  Rhetorically compares our recession to the Civil War.  I don’t think it’s quite that bad.
  4. Joe Biden is a terrible actor.  He so clearly wants to be the one giving the speech, not sitting behind and watching it be given.  He doesn’t fool me with those frowning nods of agreement.  And he’s early on the applause.  Maybe he helped out with the rehearsals.  Or, more likely, he didn’t so he doesn’t know when the punctuations for applause are.
  5. Same for John Kerry as the camera pans over him.  McCain is harder to read. 
  6. Is John McCain really rocking the sweater vest during the State of the Union?  Maybe he doesn’t plan on running for re-election.  Oh, wait, he does.  (And a second pan reveals that it was whoever is sitting next to him who was rocking the sweater vest, someone who looks significantly older than McCain.  My apologies, Senator.)
  7. Dianne Feinstein not only applauds but stands up for “we all hated the bank bailout.”
  8. Tim Geithner needs to learn about collar stays.  Seriously, they’re not that expensive, Mr. Secretary.
  9. Populism!  Do I hear populism against banks from the President himself?  I think I may need to have a drink.  Actually, I already do.
  10. You cut taxes?  NOT MINE, YOU LIAR!  Sit down and quit applauding all you craven Congresscritters.
  11. Haven’t raised taxes on a single person?  That actually wasn’t what you promised to do, you know.
  12. Lieberman looks like he ate a lemon.
  13. Hmm.  Turns out everyone is in favor of jobs.  Republicans and Democrats stood up and applauded at that.  Oh, and everyone’s in favor of America’s businesses.  Especially small businesses.  Wow, maybe this government stuff is easier than it looks!
  14. Mervyn Dymally looks awful.  Is he sick?  Henry Waxman is showing his age but he looks healthy.
  15. Flooding the SBA with low-interest money.  Some Republicans look like they’ve just been asked to sacrifice their pet puppies on the altar of job creation.  Ah, but eliminate capital gains taxes and they know to applaud that.
  16. How much of this is just applause?  The speech would be fifteen minutes long if the President weren’t getting interrupted by his cheerleaders all the time.
  17. Rebates, tax credits, and tax rate cuts.  This sounds like the opposite of keeping the budget under control.
  18. Damn I’m glad I have some tequila handy.
  19. A lot of emphasis on competition with other countries.  Germany and Japan and China have lots of education, fast trains, and all this.  But President Obama “does not accept second place” for the USA.  You know, it doesn’t much matter.  Maybe I read James Fallows too recently.
  20. “I am not interested in punishing banks.”  Immediately the camera flashes to Chris Dodd.  Someone at CNN has a sense of humor.
  21. This is not all that different from a campaign speech.  It sounds like there are a lot of specifics and a lot of knowledge but it really isn’t all that detailed.  But it sure makes me feel good.  You know, on the other hand, that’s kind of what Democrats need to be doing and saying if they want to hold on to power in 2010.
  22. More nuclear power plants!  Hey, someone important is finally listening to me!
  23. More offshore oil and gas development — and Nancy Pelosi applauds?  I thought she was from San Francisco.
  24. There is no such thing as clean coal, Mr. President.
  25. Frankly, I question the value of reducing the trade deficit.  If we’re making money the trade deficit doesn’t matter.  Exports are great and manufacturing is great but again, the question is a low threshold that is above a critical mass.
  26. Free trade — Republicans support this and Democrats sit on their hands.  Same as expanding free trade zones into Chila, Panama, and Colombia.  Then on enforcing trade agreements, it’s the opposite.  Bipartisanship at last!  I wouldn’t have thought any of that was partisan.  Free trade makes good economic sense.
  27. He’s doing more of the hand-clasp thing.  Maybe that’s how he uses the podium.  But he always winds up resting with his fingers intertwined right in front of the mike.
  28. Tax credits for student loans, increased Pell Grants, caps on student loan payments in amount and time, forgiveness for old student loan debt.  Sounds great, but I thought we were looking at reducing the deficit, Mr. President.  Also sounds like a bank might not be able to make money on student loans.
  29. More home mortgage refis?  Who’s going to pay for that?
  30. Why on Earth are Republicans standing and applauding for the idea of health care reform?
  31. Starting to feel the tequila.
  32. You know, this isn’t the best Obama speech I’ve ever heard.  I think his acceptance speech was the best.  This is well below his inaugural address and his “speech on race” from the campaign.  There just isn’t a lot of inspiration here.  I’m not getting a lot of vision or emotion, especially as we’re delving deeper and deeper and deeper into a meta-discussion about the politics of health care reform.  There’s not even an explanation of why we need health care reform.
  33. Michelle Obama is a very good looking woman.
  34. Now at least we’re getting some emotional appeal for health care reform.  Took you long enough, Mr. President.
  35. The plan you’ve proposed?  You didn’t propose anything, Mr. President.  You called for health care reform, and then you picked and chose ideas from DLC Senators, Mr. President.  The “White House” proposal is a modified form of the pending Senate proposal.
  36. Neat rhetorical trick — health care reform is good for deficit reduction.  Doesn’t make it true.
  37. We inherited the bad economy.  Then the shot at McCain?  McCain was, and is, the biggest hawk the Republicans have.  Howsabout we cut to a remote shot of former President Bush the Younger watching from his home in Crawford?
  38. Top-down shot of Congress, as in professional football, reveals no useful information.
  39. You are not going to freeze spending for three years.  “National security, medicare, medicaid, and social security will not be affected.”  You just promised to control 23% of the budget, Mr. President.  Excuse me if I’m not as impressed as I ought to be.  An across-the-board freeze would make more sense as a starting point.
  40. This “Bipartisan Fiscal Commission” sounds exactly like one of those Washington gimmicks that pretends to solve problems.  I fail to see how a subdivision of Congress, which has proven itself to be wholly and totally incapable of cutting any spending whatsoever, will do any better than the whole.  So color me cynical.
  41. Damn.  CNN feed froze.
  42. Oh, I see.  Sun Microsystems chose right now to release a new update for Java which downloaded in the background while I’m watching streaming video and Windows Vista decided to use this exact moment to ask me for permission to update it.
  43. No, I do not want to install Octoshape Grid Delivery Enhancement on my computer.  I want to watch the State of the Union address.  He hadn’t even got to national security or war issues yet.  Reload, damnit!
  44. Sure, everyone’s in favor of earmark reform in theory.  Except John Kerry.
  45. Now he’s getting down in the trenches and taking on the filibuster rule and saying that Republicans now have a share of leadership.  Query if overt references to partisanship qualifies as “statesmanlike” or the way a President ought to address Congress.  Maybe it’s smart politics.  Maybe not.  It doesn’t seem Presidential, like he’s somehow elevated above it all.  I’ll have to think about that.
  46. “Reject the false choice between national security and our values.”  Now he’s actually speaking my language.  Because I’m right and I have been all along about this.  We don’t have to choose.
  47. Is he going to talk about Yemen?  Afghanistan?
  48. Lamar Alexander said on NPR that if Obama talked about jobs, debt, and terrorism, in that order, and then stopped, he would be satisfied.  In fact, Obama has talked about jobs, debt, health care reform, partisan politics, and terrorism in that order.  That’s pretty close to what Senator Alexander said.
  49. We will NOT be out of Iraq by August.  Oh, please.  This war is not ending and not all of our troops are coming home.  See, “we will continue to partner with the Iraqi people.”
  50. It’s been about an hour.  Time to start wrapping this up, Mr. President.  I’m thinking about another drink now that the margarita is long gone.  Two cheese enchiladas and a margarita isn’t quite enough to get me through this.
  51. Some Democrat failed to stand up and applaud during the obligatory tough talk on Iran.  He was too busy tweeting something from his cell phone — which I thought was not a device allowed on the floor of the House.
  52. I’m guessing the guy between the staff sergeant and the political flack, sitting behind the First Lady is the President of Haiti.  I’m glad he survived the earthquake.
  53. Human rights?  You were going to finish strong by asking for a commitment to veterans, Mr. President, and now we’re going to talk about international human rights?
  54. Yep, Biden is over-emoting.  He’s a ham.  The President talks about some Constitutional law and it looks like Biden is choking back tears.  Only I don’t believe it, he’s too cynical and over-experienced.
  55. “Repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and the Admirals and Generals sit there quietly.  Both parties applaud that.  Why hasn’t DADT not been repealed already?
  56. No one from the Supreme Court seems to be applauding about anything.  I guess that’s appropriate — indeed, why are they there at all?  Of all the high-ranking officers of the country, they are supposed to be the most removed from partisan and political struggles.
  57. “Democracy in a nation of 300,000,000 people can be noisy and messy.”  Is this the peroration?  Really, this is not his best speech.  I’m getting bored and I’m a political junkie.
  58. We’re going on five continuous minutes about nothing.  We’re done here, Mr. President, take us out.  Three examples of Americans doing and saying inspiring things.  
  59. “We don’t quit and I don’t quit!”  Yes, but you should leave the stage now.
  60. What about Yemen?  Hell, what about Afghanistan?
  61. Really very few calls to action, either for the people as a whole or for Congress specifically.  Certainly nothing memorable.
  62. My overall impression is that Obama is uncertain about his own political strength.  Not without good cause.  He had a throwaway line about setbacks within his own administration.  He took at least two swipes at Democrats in Congress for not being able to get their acts together and practically begged Republicans to start working with him.  There is certainly no sweeping White House agenda for Congress to react to — Obama does not seem to think himself capable of leading such an agenda.  Oh, sure, he’d say different if asked that question directly and in those terms, but the proof is in the pudding and this was a modest, tentative, and uninspiring speech from someone who has proven himself a master of rhetoric and oratorical emotion.

Full text here.  It’s longer than the posts where I take on Biblical apologists.  More cause for skepticism, and fact-checking suggesting that the much-ballyhooed spending freeze will reduce the growth of the deficit by less than one percent, brought to you by that well-known Republican news shill organization, the Associated Press.

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.


  1. The State of the Union is meaningless theatre, a point you prove by being the faggot who offers a take on it based on who you think has more or less crowfeet around their eyes. Our whole politcial systen is nonsense. We aint gonna be having a public hanging of all of the Trump progeny and we aint gonne be invading Canada for all of their natural resources. Fuck it, we aint even gonna be raising the minimum wage to eleven bucks or oulawring abortion. We aint doin NOTHING — which is why thge only sensible approach to the sonorous SOTU is your faggoty bleeding ass one that's nothing but gossip. Who looks fuckable and who doesn't. You're Perez Hiltopn without the haircut.

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