On One Hand

January 28, 2010

Obama’s First State of the Union Address: A Great Start for 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 1:13 am
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If you are viewing this entry from Facebook, click “view original post” at bottom of the page to see the poll as it is included on livejournal.

It’s late and I won’t say much about the State of the Union right now, but my first impression is that I’m pretty pleased with President Obama’s performance, and eager to see how it will play out in the polls over the next few weeks. The president sounded conciliatory but tough – a good balance for the public to see, but the president will have to be willing to play hardball with recalcitrant Democrats behind closed doors if he wants to get anything done in 2010. He’ll have to completely ignore Republicans and move on without them, which is, ironically, the best way to get them to turn around and cooperate when they see they have suddenly become irrelevant. A good resource for specific themes in this address is Tom Shaller on fivethirtyeight.com.

I think my favorite lines in the whole address were President Obama’s chastisement of Congress – he spoke of the Senate in particular, and he did not spare Democrats his frustration, which is good when the American public is similarly frustrated with Democrats. He repeatedly pointed out that the House already passed items on his agenda, but the Senate – where Democratic majorities are stronger – has failed to move on practically anything, which is partially due to Republican obstructionism and more to do with Democrats being hesitant and ineffective.

But President Obama directly addressed Republicans, too, by mentioning that if they are going to use their meager 40 seats in the Senate as some kind of mandate, then they are part of the government too and need to take ownership of the country. By this point Republicans had already heckled the president – condescendingly and, in my opinon, in a way that was not fitting of the event – and needed to be told off. He could have been harsher in those cases, but I think he shamed them in a smooth way, and in any case maybe their rudeness will embolden President Obama into being less concilliatory himself.

I’ll be interested to see how the snickering and pouty faces Republicans made through most of the speech play in the media over the next few news cycles – they were so out-of-it that they didn’t even stand and clap when President Obama first mentioned cutting the capital gains tax for small businesses, which has been a Republican issue for ages.

Even moreso, I’ll be interested to see just how many points President Obama upticks in the polls after this – I expect it to be more than a couple but less than a complete game-changer (I expect to see him around 53 – he’ll get back the people who voted for him). I’m very pleased to see him taking ownership of the way the last year has gone and pleased to see exactly how he expresses his view of his mistakes and others’. Here’s to hoping the next few weeks are full of action and that a forceful White House can light a fire under congress to do something meaningful in 2010.



  1. I was feeling really upset about the democrats for whining so much about losing in Mass. so I was really happy that Obama called them out specifically on it, and talked so much about actual leadership. I’m so sick of leadership that doesn’t lead. Hopefully the Dems will grow a spine.

    Comment by 477150n — January 28, 2010 @ 1:31 pm | Reply

  2. I wasn’t necessarily more interested in this address, but it was fun to be able to watch a State of the Union without becoming inhumanly angry.

    As for the “How did this year’s State of the Union influence your opinion of the President?” question, I picked the “Obama is the awesomest” answer, but it’s sort of a cross between that and the next answer. I do think Obama is awesome, but I’ve always been skeptical of his ability to do everything he said he would do, for two reasons. First, he’s not aggressive enough to just completely bypass Congress (or lie to them) Bush-style, and Congress is sort of conservative right now, and second, Bush left this country so fucked up and that’s hard to deal with. So I guess the most accurate answer is that I was disappointed by 2009, but the address made me more optimistic (albeit cautiously) about 2010.

    Comment by music_stops — January 28, 2010 @ 2:14 pm | Reply

  3. Firefox uberfailed after I did the poll.

    I liked the speech a lot, and I am still hopeful, but not expecting much beyond Republicans doing nothing and saying everything’s wrong.
    All the people that think the president is the only one who’s supposed to fix all that ails us…

    I want something done, too. Congress should get involved.

    Comment by firemaplesong — January 30, 2010 @ 10:02 am | Reply

  4. I was enthused by the speech, then watched the Republican Response and felt a bit sick. They copied all his good parts (even down to the phrasing in some areas: “common sense litigation”). But the whole bit about leaning on Thomas Jefferson for “less federal government regulation”, encouraging offshore drilling (ergo without gov. oversight), the implication that we should allow torture for non-US citizens who might be terrorists, and the bit about how we should just expect people to give out of the goodness of their hearts…bullshit. There was even more that I can’t think of right now, I’m just hoping that more people watched Obama than that response. Plus, Obama may be a Democratic president, but I still think he should be separated from his party to the extent that there is a Democratic response…

    Comment by cobracabra — February 3, 2010 @ 6:33 pm | Reply

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