The State of the Union speech by President Obama was a success. He hit all the right themes during this important address: winning the future, we do big things, investing in tomorrow. The speech was a positive, upbeat look at the direction in which he wants to lead the country. Yes, it was a little short on specific proposals but given the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, a thematic speech was the proper speech.
Some progressives have criticized the President for not forcefully defending Social Security benefits and for not stating his support for new gun laws being proposed in the wake of the
shooting. If he would have made those types of statements during the speech, the story would be about those comments instead of the way to win the future. The media wants to cover controversy and progressives should look back to what happened during a prime time news conference Obama did on health care. Tucson
You may recall that Obama spent over an hour answering question from the press about health care and then Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times asked about the
police arresting Professor Gates. Obama answered directly about how the Cambridge police acted stupidly and that was all the media could talk about for several days culminating in the “beer summit”. That is how the media would have covered the State of the Union address if the President had made forceful statements about policy. Cambridge
Contrast the President’s address with the official Republican response given by Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI). The contrast couldn’t have been more striking. The President painted a positive picture for the future and Ryan painted a picture of gloom and doom. Ryan took a page directly from the Republican playbook of 2002 and 2004 that believes electoral success comes from scaring the American people. Saying we are going to be like Greece or Ireland if we don’t get a handle on our debt demonstrates Ryan’s ignorance about the historical size and strength of the American economy and the huge differences between the US and those European countries. Once Ryan offers specifics from his “roadmap” like his plan to eliminate Social Security and Medicare, the American people will truly be scared, scared of Republicans.
As an added benefit of such a forward looking speech by the President, it can be contrasted to the rebuttal given by the self-proclaimed Tea Party leader, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN). Her speech was filled with false statements that have been thoroughly debunked by groups like FactCheck.org and Politifact. If this is the best the Tea Party has to offer, then President Obama has nothing to worry about.
The President went a long way last evening in solidifying support from independents. When his speech is contrasted with the Republican rebuttals, most American will be happy that Barack Obama is their president. Progressive should remember what the alternative will be like if they fail to rally around President Obama.