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What Obama needs to say in the State of the Union

Next Wednesday's State of the Union address couldn't come at a better time. President Obama will report, as required by the constitution, on the country's condition, and he will, as expected, outline his administration's agenda for the coming year. But Obama's first State of the Union speech to should go beyond the traditional offerings.

The last twelve months have been marked by enormous economic and political turbulence, with wide swings in the nation's mood: From the giddiness of Inauguration Day and the first 100 days to the anger and disaffection on display in town hall meetings, culminating in rejection at the polls this week in Massachusetts.

The country also needs a report on the state of the Obama presidency, on what he has learned after one year on the job and how that experience will inform his presidency. He has to explain to the joint session of Congress and to the American public what happened to his inaugural proclamation to bring "an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics." The political climate is worse than ever. Are we in for three more years of political strangulation?

He needs to respond to those who questioned a year ago the scale of his ambitions, who suggested that the American political system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Obama labeled them cynics, accusing them of failing "to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them."

The ground has indeed shifted. But who is off balance? The cynics or this young administration?

We need to see if Obama can recapture the magic that made the nation believe, if only for a little while, that it could come together to achieve great things. Is he, one year later, up to the bold words he spoke at the Capitol: "Let it be said…when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back, nor did we falter…" Or will he treat us to a plan B?

The State of the Union is a good time to find out.

By Colbert King  | January 20, 2010; 5:55 PM ET
Categories:  King  | Tags:  Colbert King  
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Next: John Edwards's continuing, self-serving smarminess

Comments

One is baffled with such articles as Prez. Obama was having a cake walk. He inherited the worst economy where Billions disappeared in name of Iraq War but no one said anything while for past one year every right radio station has blamed Obama for all the ills.
Have not seen a single article or editorial where anyone has given any solace to him but criticism. I also feel that a color question
also brings up ugly head.
The readers would like to hear even on Monday quarter backing by writers what would you suggest.Criticism is easy and one swallow does not make return of spring.

Posted by: shadikatyal | January 20, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse

In California, a Citizens Redistricting Commission is about to come forward....

If we are in need of plan B. Shame on us.

Shame on Congress, for the American people are out of jobs, children waiting to be taught, men and women looking for leadership that take bold moves. I don't care what party it is, take care of one party, the people, who are waiting. Thats plan B.
LMW
Napa County

Posted by: LMW11 | January 20, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Recapture the "Obama magic"? Will you guys never learn? It was all rhetorical lies, smoke, mirrors, and deceit. It meant nothing. He meant none of it. He snookered all of you with smooth talk and you are still looking to get snookered again with more meaningless, deceitful rhetoric.
Wake up, King!!

Posted by: kfstewart | January 20, 2010 11:02 PM | Report abuse

I think he should stand all tall, telegenic and proud, as he always does, before his mighty teleprompter, replete with the silly, trite slogans and sayings that his swift sword Axelrod so readily supplies and proclaim "I AM." Then, after one of his trademark, pseudo profound pregnant pauses continue, in his basso profundo, to simply say, "Change You Can Believe In. We are the ones we have been waiting for. Yes we can." Then close with, "good night and God Bless America."

Posted by: djo4 | January 21, 2010 2:24 AM | Report abuse

When Obama becomes the one-term president that he is destined to be in 2012, it will be in no small part the fault of useful idiots for the Republicans like Colbert King and Bob Herbert who have been a constant negative drumbeat.

They're dissatisfied with Obama, and helping to turn the reins of power back to folks far worse---who have far less desire to achieve the goals King and Herbert desire for America.

But they spoke their minds, and that's whats really important. Isn't it?

Posted by: secretaryofspite | January 21, 2010 2:32 AM | Report abuse

He could say,...

"My fellow Americans: I came to office under false pretenses, a fact which is widely seen now.

"I said I would govern from the center. But I went far to the left.

"I said I would control spending. But I have quadrupled the federal deficit in a single year and plan to double the national debt in eight.

"I said I would rally the world and restore America's image. But after a year of trying, Russian and China still laugh at me when it comes to Iran's nuclear threat. And I could not even deliver the Olympic games.

"I rejected Hillary Clinton's 2008 suggestion that people be forced to buy health insurance. But then I decided to support a bill that does just that.

"I promised, on eight separate videotaped occasions to make sure the health care debate was conducted live in full view on C-SPAN. But I have let my pals Pelosi and Reid conduct those negotiations by stealth and by transactions that amount to bribery.

"I stocked my White House with leftist hacks, radicals, arrogant snobs, tax cheats, and Chicago backroom dealers. This despite my pledge to change the way politics are done in this town. In a way, of course, I did change it. I made it much worse.

"I promised to be a uniter, but, as you know now, I am not that. Rather, I am a left-wing ideologue and have been one since college. I chose my church for that reason. I have suppressed evidence in my academic life for that reason. The reason I have had and continue to have so many friends from the Marxist left is not a coincidence.

"I will continue to work with left-wing Democrats to ram my policies down your throats. I won in 2008 and it is my destiny to change this nation to my vision. I don't care what you think. If tomorrow's polls show 90-percent disapproval, I will say it is Bush's fault and not care.

"And if I encounter any opposition, I will kneecap it with high taxes and regulations and threats of legal action, while at the same time I shall reward my friends with tax subsidies and movements of billions of dollars from your pockets to theirs.

"I will continue to treat the news media as my PR firm, and they will comply because they seek favors from the government. And I am the government.

"Democracy is a useful stepping stone to power, but it should not stand in the way of progress.

"Now, it's time to end this silly resistance and fall in line."

This would be the most honest imaginable speech from Barack Obama.

Posted by: SARileyMan | January 21, 2010 3:19 AM | Report abuse

Mr. King, the process of getting this Healthcare legislation passed was a return to the old ways of Washington, D.C. Disturbed me to hear the Whitehouse itself admit things were done to accommodate leverages gained by certain duly elected. Some of the duly elected went back to their old ways claiming what was being done was not right but as usual they had no better plan to offer. Stuck in stolid ideologies based on political planks of yesterday, the entire process stunk. So through self admission, the Whitehouse verified that maybe there is only one game in town, the old way.

Excuse me, but the American People are not clueless. When things are getting worse and not better, we know the entire whole of Washington, D.C. is not doing its job. Is the party over yet ?

In tough times, people come together which is why Washington, D.C. looks very dysfunctional right now. Certain voices louder than most witness a hypocritical radical zeal that is shameful. But you know what ? No one has the intestinal fortitude down there to tell them to shut up.

Disunity which has been created over the past decade has some really paranoid people believing a true revolution is about to occur in America. One may ask of the paranoid delusional if violent revolution is eminent then who provoked such conditions ? How was the nation polarized and do not certain deviants really get off on that polarization ?

There is a gentleman's ways to end disputes and then there is street smarts and gangsta politics. I suggest that everyone really knows the deal and the choice is on those acting badly.

In the meanwhile Mr. King, I have already decided that whatever happens, happens. I'll be with those who continue to walk on.

R u feelin it, feelin it, feelin it ? Good fo u, now then, les walk on...

Posted by: truthhurts | January 21, 2010 3:49 AM | Report abuse

Political hacks don't have a Plan B.

They barely have a Plan A, past "Get elected."

.

Posted by: gitarre | January 21, 2010 5:34 AM | Report abuse

Obama needs to stand up, admit that he wrongly blames Bush for everything, admit that he gave his Presidency over to Reid and Pelosi, admit that his on-the-job training is going poorly, admit that his focus on health care has been misplaced, admit that his counter-terrorism bureaucracy is broken, and then maybe he can start anew.

Posted by: delusional1 | January 21, 2010 6:20 AM | Report abuse

Obama can report on how his on-the-job training is going. Not good from my standpoint.

Posted by: hz9604 | January 21, 2010 7:13 AM | Report abuse

Come now, can't we let the faux idealism die? Obama and his handlers are greasing the way for a golden parachute ending for all of them. They'll be more than content to deal with a GOP Congress and accept a single term in office. Congressional Democrats are either retiring to take lobbyist jobs or gritting their teeth in anticipation of returning to minority status in Congress. The American people are the losers in all of this.

Posted by: Puller58 | January 21, 2010 7:15 AM | Report abuse

The extreme partisan lens through which the public seems to typically view our country has led us to believe childish either/or nonsense. Few things are purely black or white. Mr.Obama's presidency is neither a success nor a failure at this point. The economy has not completely collapsed. I have not forgot who the competition was and I do believe things would have been far, far worse with more Republican mismanagement.

But, Mr.Obama, I begin to need something tangible in the way of affordable health care legislation.

Congressional members should not accept anything in the way of health care perks until they get this done. It is shameful and unconscionable that they take their
own sweet time while others die, lose homes, or go bankrupt. These people can't afford to wait any longer.

My fear is that "moderate" Democrats in Congress, who could not accept Obama's decisive election victory as a mandate for real change, will now somehow imagine Brown's victory in Massachusetts to be decisive. That would be a huge mistake. Republicans won, not because they had converts, but because Democrats are discouraged and disaffected.

So they may loudly gloat over Massachusetts, but they are not the people who voted for Mr.Obama, even though many of them will post on line saying they did.

Instead of listening to those who never would vote for him, Mr.Obama should be listening to the disaffected Democrats who might choose to stay home next time.

Our frustration is NOT because the Dems have done too much about health care, but because they have done to little, lollygagged, frittered away the mandate that WE worked damn hard to provide something we desperately need. We are very angry, too. This may be a partisan game for you guys in Washington, but it is real life to us. We are real, we work, we need health care even as we taxpayers foot the bill for you dithering blabbermouths.

The Obama successes so far are notable more for what did not happen than what did. The economy did not collapse. Things are quite probably not as bad as they could have been.

Don't listen to Republican threats and operatives. Do what you did to win this election: Mobilize your true constituency.
The way to mobilize us is to give us what we voted for.

PS And stop sending me e-mail solicitations for money. If I had that kind of dough I wouldn't be worried about health care and wouldn't have voted for you in the first place.

Posted by: martymar123 | January 21, 2010 7:20 AM | Report abuse

in other words...
obama has to lie...
because obama does not listen...

Posted by: DwightCollins | January 21, 2010 7:28 AM | Report abuse

The best thing he can say is "I resign effective immediately."

Posted by: jpost1 | January 21, 2010 7:49 AM | Report abuse

P.T. Barnum said, "no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American People". The Republican Mantra is sure we left the country broke and in two wars with escalating Health Care Cost, but in one year Obama has failed to fix what it took us 8 years to do. The Republicans left this man two Wars with no exit strategy and Tax Cuts tilted toward the Rich and a financial system that was totally broken and the country was on the brink of a great depression. Through all of the Republican shrill cries about jobs not be restored fast enough, have you heard one viable solution from their entire ranks. They hypocritically rail about spending, no Republican President has ever left a balanced budget and the conservate President that they deify, Ronald Reagan increased the deficit more than any President. These people are lying hypocrites and they play to the worst in people: 1) They play to the selfishness within people. In other words they want bridges, policeman, a strong military, but they want to pay no taxes to pay for them. 2) They play on the bigotry within the American People. Thus, the tea party sign waving movement or the so called "Bubba" vote. 3)They play on the fears of the American People. We have a monopoly on keeping you safe and people like Guilani and Cheney can keep you safe even though they were the idiots in charge during 911. These people think that we are so stupid as to think that Sarah Palin, a woman who is totally inarticulate and unlearned, can solve the complex problems that this nation has. The Republican strategy from day one has been that they know that jobs take time to return from the biggest recession in 70 years and that all that had to do was oppose, oppose and oppose and they could blame the joblessness on Obama who has only had one year to try and fix it.

Posted by: impartial1 | January 21, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

OH PLEASE! The LAST thing we need is ANOTHER speech from Obama. We need to see some concrete deeds, some accomplishments, some wrongs righted, some guilty parties hanged, some economic advisors let go!

Enough flowery speeches!

Posted by: barrylarryandtimmy | January 21, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Petty grievances... like Obama's attitude toward Fox News? Hmmm. No one is arguing that the previous administration made mistakes. But no one is under the illusion that Obama's preferred fixes will actually do any fixing, either.

I'm tired of the government trying to take care of us all. I'd rather stand on my own two feet, and I wish all the slackers out there would decide to stand on their own two feet also.

This health care thing should be no more than a simple inexpensive basic package that even low income families can afford. Insurers could offer options to be purchased by each person according to their needs. No more and no less. Tort reform can go a long way toward reducing the costs, because it would reduce the costs attributed to malpractice insurance - individual insureds could buy tort insurance if they prefer to have something to make a claim against.

And the only things in life that should be mandatory are birth and death. Even taxes aren't mandatory if you're homeless.

Posted by: whisperonthewind | January 21, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

King and the Dems dont get it...its not the scope of his plans, its not lack of communication by the pres or that the voters dont "understand". They see Obama's plans, his "change washington" yet payoff Ben Nelson and the Unions and they DONT WANT IT.They dont want massive spending based on "projections" that are flacky at best. They remember Obama saying unemployment would be 8% and it is clearly not, yet they should trust him to saddle a trillion dollar program on future generations based "again" on his "projections" for the next 10-20 years???He cant project unemployment for even 1 year.The electorate is not dumb, they "get it" and dont want it Hope the dems never get it till after Nov 2010.They are truly tone deaf.

Posted by: snapplecat07 | January 21, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure that could have been said any better. Obama needs to once again look and sound Presidential and dispel the prevailing opinion that he's basically just a puppet.

Posted by: dmedman50 | January 21, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

That's where President Obama, like his teacher President Bush, tells his biggest lies.

Like the 'small business banning together for health-care' lies that Bush told for eight years and Obama told in last year's State-of-the-Union.

Obama disregards small businesses, minorities and minority business. Now he wants to stand up there and talk, using black people as props behind him - shameless.

Posted by: question-guy | January 21, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

"shadikatyal: The readers would like to hear even on Monday quarter backing by writers what would you suggest.Criticism is easy and one swallow does not make return of spring."

You are correct ... it is easy to complain but hard to suggest workable alternatives. That is what Obama is finding out. He has yet to come up with any alternatives other than spend more money.

Posted by: usr105 | January 21, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Thanks to the Democratic Leadership we have a President flailing, instead we could have had Hillary moving this country forward!

Posted by: paris1969 | January 21, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Answer to the "question" posed in the column headline..... "I resign."
Our long national nightmare will be over.

Posted by: Shrimper | January 21, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

I agree that Obama should make his state-of-the-union message different and unique. Since our entire nation America is rapidly crashing into oblivion because of him, his message should simply be "After due consideration, I have decided to resign!"
This is all we really need to hear this mystery man with no birth certificate say. Goodbye!

Posted by: churchlionjudah | January 21, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

President Obama should rally the country to urgently achieve redistricting reform and public campaign finance. These are two reforms with genuine and justified populist appeal which also have the benefit of fixing what is wrong with the federal government: the strangle-hold of moneyed special interests on elected officials, and near-certain reelections for incumbents.

Posted by: Rethinking | January 21, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

SARileyMan - your post of what Obama's speeck should be is brilliant - simply outstanding. Thanks for a good laugh and more than a little truth.

Posted by: hill_marty | January 21, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Thanks to the Democratic Leadership we have a President flailing, instead we could have had Hillary moving this country forward!

Posted by: paris1969

----------------------------------------------------

The very hand of god could not move our Congress to work for anyone other than themselves. Obama ought to come out and directly say it. Call out the various Senators who were more interested in padding their re-election coffers than legislating in good faith.

Demand a proposal from the Republican party (with budget numbers) to reconcile with Democrats. if they can't put it out within a month move forward with what the House has proposed......piece by piece. No more hiding on page 1250; it's time to address each issue as stand alone so the votes are done in the light and not under the shadows of some hidden amendment.

Posted by: theobserver4 | January 21, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

SARileyMan - went a little further than I would at the end, but very well said. THAT is why Coakley lost the election; the cherry on top was the Nebraska/union bribery.

Posted by: 1ofamillion | January 21, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

He needs to admit that Joe Wilson was right.

Posted by: richardch_2 | January 21, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

To SARileyMan:

Spot on! Great speech! Love it!

Posted by: janet8 | January 21, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

President Obama is what's called an `opening act' in show business, someone who bounds on the stage, get's the audience warmed up and cooking, fired up and ready to go, and then the main attraction comes on.

The trouble is-- there is no main attraction, just endless warm-ups and expectations.

Americans need to get over the `American Idol' syndrome and vote reality next time in the polls.

Posted by: AlongTheWatchTowers | January 21, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

He was mislead by the far left of the Democratic Party that think health care and eco stuff is best for us. They ignored the economy and unemployment. So the middle class is revolting

Posted by: FLvet | January 21, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

"The ground has indeed shifted. But who is off balance? The cynics or this young administration?"

After Tuesday's election, it is the Obama administration that is off balance. Wednesday's speech could be an opportunity to right the ship but I don't think this president has the proper view of the limitations of government to do that. It is unfortunate.

Posted by: edbyronadams | January 21, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

We know what to expect from Obama in the State of the Union address.
The Obama in speeches and interviews is like a movie where OBAMA IS A SKILLED ACTOR with a great script to read. The script typically has all the nice sound bites and slogans like: transparency, bipartisanship, no earmarks, smaller government, post racial, reduce deficits, no lobbyists in government, no special interests, no increase in taxes for 95%, reduce health care costs and on and on.
The script always alludes to somebody else being responsible for all problems and lack of progress. "We inherited etc.etc." and identifies the "evil" forces he is combatting (like big insurance)
EVERYONE BY NOW HAS SEEN THE ENTIRE MOVIE.
where Obama sounds and appears very presidential with all these nice words.
BUT IT"S AN ILLUSION, IT'S PHONY, JUST LIKE A MOVIE.

The REAL OBAMA IS REVEALED AFTER ONE YEAR as: inexperienced, naive in foreign affairs, incompetent, comes with no past accomplishments, extremely partisan, always blaming someone else (Bush is his favorite) and has achieved nothing positive as president .
OBAMA'S PHILOSOPHY and POLICIES ARE HIGHLY LEFTIST as:stated clearly in his two books, revealed by his associates from college to early in his presidential campaign (when he made believe he didn't really have such associates), his actions as a Community Organizer, his highly partisan and most liberal voting records in Illinois and the U.S. Senate, many of his appointments and his "Chicago style" backroom politics throughout his career.
THIS IS THE REAL OBAMA NOT THE MOVIE.
The nation has caught on to the difference.
IN THE STATE OF THE UNION, WE CAN EXPECT TO SEE THE MOVIE AGAIN!

Posted by: mindsweeper01 | January 21, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Obama should apologize:
What have I got to do to make you love me
What have I got to do to make you care
What do I do when lightning strikes me
And I wake to find that you're not there
What do I do to make you want me
What have I got to do to be heard
What do I say when it's all over
And sorry seems to be the hardest word
It's sad, so sad
It's a sad, sad situation
And it's getting more and more absurd
It's sad, so sad
Why can't we talk it over
Oh it seems to me
That sorry seems to be the hardest word
What do I do to make you love me
What have I got to do to be heard
What do I do when lightning strikes me
What have I got to do
What have I got to do
When sorry seems to be the hardest word

Posted by: mharwick | January 21, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

I am not going to try to be piffy as all of you as you blame one man for the ills of this nation. Ills that has been brewing for years pass. Its so easy to blame this President as you have closed your eyes to the truth. One man can not change a nation of greed, selfishness, and the inability of delayed gratification. All I ever hear are cries of "I want it now"!! Where were all your criticism when Bush and his neo con pigs were robbing this country? Now that the Supreme Court has ordered us into slavery by give the corporation free reign to buy politicians and erase the balance of power, I dont see anyone make mentioned of it. Where is the hollaring about that. Color is the code of the day. You are only fooling yourselves to blame one man for the fall of this country which has been brewing for 8 years and now you all expect change to be completed in 1 year. Please!! Your true colors is showing. I am ashame of this country and I proudly say it!! Read your Bible for your judgment shall be upon you as you have all ignored the filth for 8 years and now blame this President only because of his color.

Posted by: Deni1 | January 21, 2010 11:20 PM | Report abuse

Obama needs to be forthrigh about how he has failed to improve the economy and generate jobs. He needs to speak the truth, and if he doesn't there should be more than one congressman calling him out as a liar. He should explain what his secret band of czars are doing. He should explain his special relationships with ACORN/SEIU and the big unions and why they get special deals. He should explain why Eric Holder still has his job after deciding to prosecute the 9/11 terrorists in New York and the underwear bomber in civil court. He could do the decent thing and offer his resignation.

Posted by: DrPepper1 | January 21, 2010 11:20 PM | Report abuse

Most Americans no longer hear Obama .
77 % Say OBAMA does not like the investor class and Capitalism .. That is a first for any President ever .. It had to include dems and Liberals .
The Bloom is off the false and Phony Rose quicker than Jimmy Carter imploded our economy .

Justice will be served when the former great one is impeached . We can't stand 3 more years of his total insanity or his leftist Hacks and have a Nation not totally Impoverished bring back the same FDR moronic politics of the 30.s lasting until WW 2 Started or 15 years of depression .

The Govt. not only didn't "Fix " anything back then it pro longed and made matters worse since FDR Taxed the wealthy 101 % above $ 100.00.00 . Hence the market place stopped dead and only FDR's close Rich friends prospered like Al Gore , George Soros today and GE Chairman who sits on Obama council and is many Billions on carbon credits and green light worthless .... bulbs .

Why is the number so amazingly great at 77 % ? 23-24 % of Americans are not Investors . That also means Liberals see him as anti Investors and Business as well ... Duh !

Making these Amazing number close to 98 % who don't trust the former Messiah of a few screwballs .

America is really saying stick your radical Socialism , Love of Unions , ACORN ,Collectivism and Carbon Credit taxes along with more taxes where the sun does not shine Mr What your name ....

We are Capitalist ! Adjust to us or hit the street back in Chicago .

This just in : Ms Obama is now back to not liking America as if she ever did .

Americans want our pies we made back since we stopped making pies because of your hands in both our pockets and on our death bed Taxes as well you renewed .

I'd like to say its been nice but in truth it has been a total disaster from the day you became our couch , couch , hack , hack new President in a very low sad voice .

Posted by: same15259 | January 22, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

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