Tuesday, January 24, 2012

President Obama's 2012 State of the Union Address

Well, what'd ya think?

It seemed to me that the entire speech had a hard undertone. It wasn't overtly political. But while the President was speaking, it was hard to forget that this is an election year.

Just a few observations:
In 2008, the house of cards collapsed. We learned that mortgages had been sold to people who couldn’t afford or understand them. Banks had made huge bets and bonuses with other people’s money. Regulators had looked the other way, or didn’t have the authority to stop the bad behavior. 

It was wrong. It was irresponsible. And it plunged our economy into a crisis that put millions out of work, saddled us with more debt, and left innocent, hard-working Americans holding the bag. In the six months before I took office, we lost nearly four million jobs. And we lost another four million before our policies were in full effect.
As the President spoke these words, the cameras were trained on Treasury Secretary Geithner.  Kinda took all the air out of the room.
The state of our Union is getting stronger. And we’ve come too far to turn back now. As long as I’m President, I will work with anyone in this chamber to build on this momentum. But I intend to fight obstruction with action, and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place.
Maybe I'm delusional, but with the Republican party in such chaos right now, I believe there might be an opportunity for bipartisan cooperation.  With no clear leader, the GOP is jittery and adrift.  So-called "establishment" Republicans are panicked about next week's Florida primary.  If Newt Gingrich somehow manages to win it, Republicans everywhere will freak out! It will become imperative that they distance themselves from Gingrich and his supporters. They will take extreme measures up to and including cooperation with the Obama administration. (Senator Scott Brown is probably feeling a little tight around the collar, right now.)
The opponents of action are out of excuses. We should be working on comprehensive immigration reform right now. But if election-year politics keeps Congress from acting on a comprehensive plan, let’s at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses, and defend this country. Send me a law that gives them the chance to earn their citizenship. I will sign it right away.
Perilous ground for Republicans.  Immigration is a big red dividing line within their party.  A lot will depend on how the presidential race looks in a few months.  If Obama looks strong, there is a chance that an immigration package might make it through.
Of course, the easiest way to save money is to waste less energy. So here’s another proposal: Help manufacturers eliminate energy waste in their factories and give businesses incentives to upgrade their buildings. Their energy bills will be $100 billion lower over the next decade, and America will have less pollution, more manufacturing, and more jobs for construction workers who need them. Send me a bill that creates these jobs.
This sounds something like what Governor Kitzhaber proposed for Oregon schools in 2010.  It makes perfect sense and therefore has no chance in the US Congress.
Some of this has to do with the corrosive influence of money in politics. So together, let’s take some steps to fix that. Send me a bill that bans insider trading by Members of Congress, and I will sign it tomorrow. Let’s limit any elected official from owning stocks in industries they impact. Let’s make sure people who bundle campaign contributions for Congress can’t lobby Congress, and vice versa – an idea that has bipartisan support, at least outside of Washington.
That probably caused some butterflies in the audience.  Some of them have already signed the leases for their K Street office buildings.
So it is with America. Each time I look at that flag, I’m reminded that our destiny is stitched together like those fifty stars and those thirteen stripes. No one built this country on their own. This Nation is great because we built it together. This Nation is great because we worked as a team. This Nation is great because we get each other’s backs. And if we hold fast to that truth, in this moment of trial, there is no challenge too great; no mission too hard. As long as we’re joined in common purpose, as long as we maintain our common resolve, our journey moves forward, our future is hopeful, and the state of our Union will always be strong.
After all the ugly politics of the last 3 years, I'm deaf to these clarion calls.  I don't believe in them anymore.  I can't make up my mind about President Obama.  I'm still followed around by the ghosts of lost hope.  I remember what it was like to believe.  I miss that.

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