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Breaking down President Obama's state of the union speech (VIDEO)

The Fix and Post senior political reporter Dan Balz sat down following President Barack Obama's state of the union speech to analyze what he said, what he didn't and what it all means.

Our conversation is below.

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 28, 2010; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  White House  
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Next: Obama sends a message to Congressional Dems: Stand and fight


He went to the 'lion's den' and listened to the RNC, this may not have made Nancy/Reid happy, but after the slam to the Supreme Court, a dramatic action was necessary.

Posted by: RayOne | January 31, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse


Does anyone believe that Obama feels any obligation to abide by his own words ?

It's as if Obama is willing to say anything to get through an election - or through a speech - and those words and commitments MEAN NOTHING to his future actions.

The nation really have a situation on their hands.


Posted by: 37thand0street | January 28, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Overall, Obama's speech was unfocused and full of contradictions which conflicted his words with his own actions.


Posted by: 37thand0street | January 28, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Yawn -- it's the inevitable bloviating bore.

Posted by: drindl | January 28, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

End the influence of lobbyists -

Obama said that tonight but isn't that a bit of a joke after all the deals Obama made for his health care bill ???

He made a deal with the pharmaceutical industry

He made a deal on the "doctor's fix"

He made deals with lobbyists from health care industry groups so they would not run tv commercials against his health care plan.

He made deals with the lobbyists from the labor unions on the taxes on the health care plans.

All these negotiations were the polar opposite from what Obama promised during his campaign - and the complete opposite from what he said tonight.

Then tonight - he said he wanted a freeze on spending - then he proposed more spending.

If it wasn't so crazy and reflective of multiple personalities, then it would be comical.

Does Obama have multiple personalities?

Is that it???

Whenever Obama comes out with an issue, Obama's own actions make his position a FRAUD.

Obama has caused his own credibility to significantly diminish - same with his stance on bipartisanship - and then Obama slams the Republicans in the same speech - it just does not work that way.


Posted by: 37thand0street | January 28, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Glenn Greenwald thought the reaction to Congressman Joe Wilson's childish antics during President Obama's health care speech was overstated. Greenwald pointed out that the speech was political, and the reaction was political, from an opposition politician. Not that Wilson's behavior was okay, but that it wasn't as condemnable as some were making it out to be. So, Greenwald's reaction to Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, at last night's State of the Union Address, is all the more salient:

Turkana's diary :: ::
By contrast, the behavior of Justice Alito at last night's State of the Union address -- visibly shaking his head and mouthing the words "not true" when Obama warned of the dangers of the Court's Citizens United ruling -- was a serious and substantive breach of protocol that reflects very poorly on Alito and only further undermines the credibility of the Court. It has nothing to do with etiquette and everything to do with the Court's ability to adhere to its intended function,

Greenwald emphasizes the importance of the Court's remaining above the political fray, precisely because its rulings often have such profound political impact. And he makes the obvious reference to Bush v. Gore, which so damaged the Court's credibility, with the majority ruling outside what had been the tenor of its previous judicial philosophy. And Greenwald notes that the Citizens United ruling also undermines the purported conservative judicial philosophy, because its broad scope was a consummate example of the judicial activism conservatives, now exposed as patently dishonest, usually deplore. Greenwald bluntly states that Alito's behavior, last night, further undermines the Court's critical credibility.

On a night when both tradition and the Court's role dictate that he sit silent and inexpressive, he instead turned himself into a partisan sideshow -- a conservative Republican judge departing from protocol to openly criticize a Democratic President -- with Republicans predictably defending him and Democrats doing the opposite.

Posted by: drindl | January 28, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Congressional Republicans will make opposition to President Barack Obama’s 2009 stimulus plan a centerpiece of their 2010 campaign.

They’re plying reporters with polls raising doubts about the stimulus, demanding that Democrats say whether they still support the stimulus and declaring, as Minority Whip Eric Cantor did on the “Today” show Wednesday, that “the stimulus hasn’t worked.”

There’s just one catch: According to a tally kept by the White House, at least 65 congressional Republicans have touted the stimulus dollars that have flowed into their own states.

Georgia Rep. Phil Gingrey is one of them.

Gingrey calls the stimulus a “boondoggle” and a “dismal failure” — and like all House Republicans, he voted against it last year. But when Cedartown, Ga., got $625,000 in stimulus funds to help build new sidewalks, Gingrey made sure he was on hand to present the city with an oversize check signed by “Uncle Sam.”

How does he explain the disconnect?

“The money’s going to be spent — if not in Georgia ... in Massachusetts, California and New Jersey,” Gingrey told POLITICO. “It would be unconscionable for me to stand in the way of that money.”

Posted by: drindl | January 28, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

In Florida, the Club for Growth is backing former state Speaker Marco Rubio over Florida Gov. Charlie Crist in the Republican Senate primary — and the stimulus is an issue in the race. Rubio attacked Crist on Wednesday for supporting the stimulus when it was being debated in Congress, saying that he’d “cut the legs out from under” the GOP by doing so.

But Rubio has said that he also would have accepted whatever stimulus funds would have helped Florida. And indeed, despite some early rumblings, every governor — Republican and Democrat — ultimately accepted stimulus funds.

Posted by: drindl | January 28, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

We also heard many of Obama’s familiar rhetorical devices:

1) He trotted out the usual straw men: “I was told by some,” “Washington has been telling us,” etc. And once these awful straw men are set up, our hero Obama answers defiantly, “I don’t settle for second place!” The straw-man ploy is now stale.

2) The “I didn’t ask for” trope: Obama acts as if he bravely endures persecution on our behalf, rejects the easy path, and presses ahead on the difficult path.

3) The “they did it” trope: So when Obama talks of “lobbying” and “horse trading” on health care, apparently some right-wing nut in the Senate started buying votes at $300 million a clip? The Washington insider who has the White House and Congress blames . . . Washington!

4) The “Bush did it” trope: So Obama’s deficits are the result of Bush’s spending and weak economy — but is a relatively quiet Iraq due to Bush’s successful surge? No. Obama himself will bring the war in Iraq to a close. He did not offer one word of praise for Bush in a speech calling for unity.

5) The meaningless token: So after piling up the two largest budget deficits in U.S. history, Obama promises fiscal sobriety and spending freezes — but only in 2011, after we pile up yet another year of trillion-dollar-plus red ink.

6) The above-it-all lecturing: After blaming Bush for 30 minutes and castigating the Republicans for “just saying no to everything,” Obama lectures on Washington’s partisan bickering. And after a year of hardball Chicago politicking, a politically weakened Obama calls for bipartisanship and a new tone. That will go over really well.

7) The meaningless deadlines and promises: No speechwriter should invoke Iran and a deadline to comply on nonproliferation; no one believes Obama after the past four failed deadlines, and he should give it all a break.

8) The final hope-and-change flourishes: The emotional end of the speech, which used to set crowds afire in 2008, seemed more rote.

All in all, this was a nonchalant performance that ran for well over an hour. The president’s above-it-all cynicism, mocking, and dry humor didn’t work. The whole thing reminded me of a flat grad-school seminar with a snickering prof talking down to clueless students.

Posted by: drivl | January 28, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Move along folks, nothing to see in this thread other than gibberish, crap, garbage, and nonsense.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | January 28, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

What's the point of breaking down Barack Obama's stand up comedy act,when we all know that whatever he said, can't be believed anyway? This incompetent do-do has always said things that he thinks people want to hear, and made promises he never keeps. Face it, he's just a con-artist!

Posted by: armpeg | January 28, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Tonight the president engaged in demogoguery of the worst kind, when he claimed that last week's Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC, "open[ed] the floodgates for special interests - including foreign corporations - to spend without limit in our elections. Well I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities."

The president's statement is false.

The Court held that 2 U.S.C. Section 441a, which prohibits all corporate political spending, is unconstitutional. Foreign nationals, specifically defined to include foreign corporations, are prohibiting from making "a contribution or donation of money or ather thing of value, or to make an express or implied promise to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a Federal, State or local election" under 2 U.S.C. Section 441e, which was not at issue in the case. Foreign corporations are also prohibited, under 2 U.S.C. 441e, from making any contribution or donation to any committee of any political party, and they prohibited from making any "expenditure, independent expenditure, or disbursement for an electioneering communication... ."

This is either blithering ignorance of the law, or demogoguery of the worst kind.

Posted by: drivl | January 28, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

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