Friday question answered
A number of readers came up with excellent advice in response to my question about what the president should say and not to say in his State of the Union address. The single best suggestion came from stevendufresne, who urged Obama to "put Iran on notice that the U.S. under his leadership will not permit a nuclear weapon and that all options are on the table to stop Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons." Our Iran policy is adrift, as sanctions pinch the Iranian economy but fail to bring about a change of heart in a regime bent on becoming a nuclear power. Unless Obama does more than mouth platitudes ("sanctions are working") he will face a horrible decision before the end of his term: use military force or accept a revolutionary Islamic state armed with nukes.
But for purposes of discussion let's take a look at StatistQuo's recommendation:
The SOTU has already been undermined by the new round of recess of appointments. Nevertheless, Obama will probably give rhetorical support for budget cuts, but will keep it vague to draw flak later to Republican-specific reductions. He will exaggerate any sliver of silver lining in the economy (stock market, slight improvement in GDP growth, and saved/created jobs mythology). He may throw a sop at Tea Party types with some boilerplate about no more bailouts and a swipe at Wall Street. He could tout the bi-partisan support for the war on terror, but he'll probably be too squeamish to do so, given fellow Democrats' objections to the war effort.
His "hostage taker" moment would be a riff on immigration reform. That could undermine, if not destroy the bi-partisan template. Self-congratulations regarding Obamacare will put the ol' kibosh on the festivities leading both Democrats and Republicans at each others throats, where we started.
Bonus: four SCOTUS Justices attend: Kagan, Sotomayor, Ginsburg and Breyer.
I agree with the reader that Obama is likely to employ more moderate rhetoric, but do as little as possible to alter the trajectory of his policies. He, like many liberal pundits, will try to transmute the actual message of the midterm voters (Stop big-government liberalism!) into a mushy message (Let's all get along!) that will bolster his defense of ObamaCare, financial regulation and other liberal wins. Obama will no doubt seek to paint Republicans as "obstructionist" for wanting to "relitigate" ObamaCare or undertake significant cuts in entitlement programs and domestic discretionary spending. He will, as he did with his recess appointments, pledge to his liberal base to consider his left-leaning agenda through regulatory means. If there is a significant policy announcement, it could well be on the issue of tax reform.
As for immigration, Obama's approach has been to stoke the flames on this controversial issue but not to risk any political capital on a comprehensive immigration plan. He's not about to pursue another non-economic issue (as he did with ObamaCare), which will only give credence to his opponents' claims that he is insufficiently focused on the economic issues voters care most about.
With regard to the Supreme Court justices, we'd be much better off if they'd all stay home. The SOTU has devolved into a partisan event, a sort of political boo and cheer event that federal judges should avoid. Unfortunately, I suspect all but one or two of the justices will attend. And once again, Obama will make some jibe about the danger to our democracy from "corporate money" (not George Soros's or labor unions' loot, however).
When the final line has been uttered, there will not have been a single memorable phrase. For in his two years as president can anyone recall any compelling phrase?
Posted by: K2K2 | January 3, 2011 8:59 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: engdre | January 3, 2011 9:28 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: johnnyramone | January 3, 2011 9:31 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Kinesics | January 3, 2011 9:48 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: 54465446 | January 3, 2011 10:56 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Stacyx | January 3, 2011 11:34 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: rgray | January 3, 2011 1:17 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: stevendufresne | January 3, 2011 8:38 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: johnnyramone | January 4, 2011 7:28 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.