GOP gets two for the price of one
Tea Party Congressional darling Michelle Bachmann (R-Mn.), is taking liberties tonight that I've never seen a phantom American Socialist, Communist, or even a real Greenie take. She's an official Republican, not a (TP-Mn.) and yet she gets to deliver the two in the one-two punch from Republicans as the minority response to President Obama's 2011 State of the Union address, Tea Party style.
Isn't this delicious. "I'm a Republican yet I'm speaking for a wholly different party altogether."
As Scooby-Do would say, "Rrrr-rrr-rrrr-wha?"
While Bachmann has done a lovely job of pinning joblessness on government, she ought to look to not only her own backers, and the muddled Tea Party's own moneybag funders to pinpoint that place where joblessness is most culpable: big business. Big business is wholly beholden to quarterly shareholders. That's why our big business leaders have stripped ordinary Americans of jobs and shipped them offshore to workers who will schlepp round the clock for pennies on the dollars.
Don't get me started on Bachmann pointing to the government as the bulwark against energy in America.
If Bachmann really wants progress in the country, she'll begin with a stone cold hard look in the mirror, asking herself if she would recognize honesty if it landed on her lap. Her particular brand of schizophrenic party allegiance and a kind of double-speak to rival George Orwell's 1984 lexicon is something to behold. It's like a televised version of Hieronymous Bosch's "The Garden of Earthly Delights" but without the millennial context. In a tweet its: #bunk.
The Bachmann Response
I don't think the kindergarten teacher, talk-down accusatory tone with exclamation points!! will contrast well with Obama's international, statesmen, future-focused speech. Bachmann throws lots of data out there; unfortunately most of it is fictional and Fox-framed, but her soundbites will probably carry further than Ryan's Eeyore-tone. 'Exceptionalism' again thrown out there as red meat for her base in contrast to Obama's effort to pitch a big inclusive tent. However she spins out from the serious to the bizaare, pivoting from kindergarten teacher to Sunday School teacher, with Iwo Jima flag waiving and Declaration of Independence stuck up behind her, just spun her right over the edge of statespersonship. Clearly playing to the Tea Party base, and ignoring all others. Substantively she didn't have anything different from Representative Ryan ("we're doomed! We won't see the light of tomorrow!!) although she did more directly accuse Obama of lying and tyranny. Boehner has a lot of work to do to keep the GOP together...
Fear from Ryan
Paul Ryan's delivery is smooth. But his message is one of fear. He does not inspire and when compared to the president's he falls short in comforting a worried nation.
But he delivered an ideological treatise, which can serve him and his party well. What Democrats lack is a coherent set of principles that inform their policies. Ideology is a dirty word, but it is what many voters look for. They want a moral anchor. Republicans are much better at throwing people one.
Nice response by Paul Ryan, delivery much better than Bobby Jindal and much lower key than Bob McDonnell in the House of Delegates Chamber last year.
Ryan gave a mature and adult like talk to the American people.
He stuck to a few simple themes. Mentioning exclusions of union leaders and companies from the healthcare program was a great point.
I think he did a good job with tone and stayed on a topic that he knows well: the Budget.
He also did a good job sticking to the message of the election and really put the President and Democrats on the spot for the stimulus and other spending.
Linking the 09' stimulus and subsequent budgets to investment cuts the legs out from under his newest initiatives.
Using the words like "obligation" and "responsibly" is great.
Talking about principles, the Declaration, founders and the Constitution certainly will play well.
Nice to hear limited government and individual liberty mentioned.
This is a great quote to end this post: "We need to reclaim our American system of limited government, low taxes, reasonable regulations, and sound money, which has blessed us with unprecedented prosperity. And it has done more to help the poor than any other economic system ever designed.
Speech -- Wrap
I thought the speech worked well rhetorically but all the work is to-be-done. I was glad that Obama defended his initiatives without grandstanding. I thought the Udall sit-together initiative worked wonderfully in making the other branches look appropriately serious and focused on getting work done. I didn't hear anything from a policy perspective that was terribly bold or surprising --- which meant that there wasn't much to oppose (how can you oppose 10 and 25 year goals? General bipartisan work on reform). I suppose that a focus on schools, energy, and deficit reduction is a reasonable troika for this year. I believe the speech will help Obama in the polls, and depending on the GOP response, may lift the legislature in general too.
But what will really happen over the next three months? Will the Tea Party shut down the government over the debt ceiling? How will their promise to cut $100 bill per year be reconciled with Obama's agreement to cut $400 billion over ten years as long as it's coupled with key investments for America's future? More generally, has the GOP pivoted from 'just say no' with the only objective to unseat Obama in 2012 to something else? How will the GOP reconcile the Tea Party?
On to Congressman Ryan representing the GOP ... interesting that he's about the most inside-Beltway career politican among the newer GOP members ... Fact that Bachmann gets equal time on CNN is itself a substantial commentary on the GOP today...
Simple question how does the President claim to want to cut the deficit but then follows up with a litany of programs and initiatives that will all require money.
The president still has the downward inflection that gives his speeches a certain monotony. But there were times that he revealed a passion, usually at the beginning of sentences. But better than not there at all.
The message seemed to garner more bipartisan approval. Was that a function of the mixed seating that makes it harder to see the divide? I can't tell.
Overall, he tried to be conciliatory. Which will not likely please progressives.
There were not many calls for sacrifice. It would have been smarter to frame the "tax cuts for the rich" as a call to sacrifice. Instead of "we should ask millionaires to give up their tax break," he would have been better served to ask them for sacrifice.
It was a nice nod to John Boehner. And a nice finish to Brandon's drilling company. "But we do big things," delivered with passion.
I didn't hear any memorable lines. It was, as is his custom, to be cautious. He didn't seem to move the needle.
If we do big things, we need big leaders. I'm not sure we saw one tonight. That said, he may have positioned himself as the center.
The question is whether we can dig ourselves out of the hole we're in by being cautious.
Speech was full of familiar rhetoric. I don't think he said a lot. Seemed to include many platitudes, emanations and penumbras but not a lot of meat.
He has made great speeches in the past, this was not one of them. The speech was flat and failed to address the major issues that defined the election.
I though the plan was this speech to be uplifting. I did not see it.
The bottom line is each of these initiatives will require a new government program, it looks to me like he has not abandoned the interventionist tendencies that have defined his administration.
His remarks on foreign policy sounded like an addendum as if it was a formality.
From the sound of his remarks, his tone has not changed.
Nice to see him socializing with the pages at the back of the chamber.
Waiting for Paul Ryan . . .
We want to be recognized for our goodness
As cynical as I felt about the prospect of reminding us of the Cold War at the beginning of this speech, I am practically in tears watching the cameras showing Brandon Fisher turning beet red and getting a bit choked up for being internationally recognized in this speech. His innovation and his ability to connect the dots that he might be just the person to help save the Chilean miners are worthy of this praise. It is a recognition that he lives as a person who develops new technologies for so much more than simpe profit. He was praised for being a good citizen of the world. We want to be told that we are good. We want to be recognized for our goodness.
This is a nice message for the end of the speech after the past few weeks discussing tamping down violent rhetoric. This reminds me that we do so much more by lifting others than we will ever do trying to tear one another down. That was my only emotional moment in the speech. I hope the methodology of his speech serves to further inspire. Actions and changes to our own behavior show more than words alone can ever do.
Closet Republican ?
Let's be honest: The talk is better than any Republican. Let's see how he does with the walk.
The contributors to "Post Forum" are Washington Post readers. They are responsible for the accuracy of their posts, and expected to adhere to The Post's user submission guidelines.