Thursday, January 28, 2010

Stating His Case

So Barack Obama's been in office for one year and he's already promising us that he won't quit.

Not sure if that's a good thing or not---that he has to remind us of that, I mean.

Obama's State of the Union Address Wednesday night ended with an almost Richard Nixon-like line---but of course delivered with a lot more pizazz and confidence.

"I don't quit!"

Neither did Tricky Dick, until the goods were too much on him to overcome.

I'm not comparing Obama to Nixon---well, not really. But it just goes to show you the different reactions that can be drummed up by different speakers delivering pretty much the same message.

Obama was at his best Wednesday night---pointedly glaring at the Republicans as he used his bully pulpit to call them out and place them into a tidy box. He also winked at them and joked, so that no one could accuse him of being a sourpuss or petulant.

He even derided the Supreme Court, who was sitting perhaps 30 feet in front of him. I don't recall any president doing THAT during a SOTU address.

MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews, I think, summed up the president's speech best.

"This one was to 'get the audience back' as they say."

Obama, essentially, was boldly and proudly putting himself up against his detractors and the other party, side by side, and asking the American people to pick a side. At least, that's what I got out of it.




"The 'Just Say No' party was sitting on its hands and smirking," Matthews went on. "That, unfortunately, might be good politics...We'll see."

Jobs was a hot button topic, and was placed toward the front of the speech. After reciting some "feel good" stories, vis a vis letters he's received, Obama acknowledged that for every success story, there are many others that are far less so. People still not working, still not sure WHEN they'll be working again.

But the underlying theme seemed to be Washington and its partisanship.

"Everyday is Election Day," he said.

Then he challenged both parties to, in essence, get stuff done.

I liked this line: "We not only have a budget deficit, we have a trust deficit."

He's right; I don't have statistics to back this up, but I would submit that trust and faith in the federal government is at or near an all-time low.

Obama's numbers have been sinking, which isn't terribly surprising, considering where he started out a year ago. But it has been 12 months, and the bleeding needs to be clotted, so the SOTU address was designed to do just that. It's not often that you can have 75 minutes of national TV time, unabated.

You give Obama that kind of face time and a TelePrompTer and if you're on the other side, you're going to take some hits. No question.

But I recall something an old football coach once said.

Bum Phillips, who coached the Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints in the NFL, was talking about halftime pep talks.

"I don't give speeches," Bum drawled. "Because no matter how good a speech is, the first time a player gets the stuffing beat out of him, he forgets that speech."

That would seem to suit Washington just fine. Unfortunately.

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