State of the Union: A Republican Response

6 Nov

The President is a powerful public speaker, and last nights State of the Union was a prime time of refresher for the nation on what got him elected in the first place. But it’s a year later, and for all the President’s oratorical prowess unemployment remains at over 10%, the 2009 deficit is a staggering $1.4 trillion and health care reform is lost in a legislative quagmire.

But it’s okay because we got a really good speech.

To the Presidents credit he struck a resilient tone, promising to aggressively pursue his ambitious his agenda despite his political struggles. But at the same time he acknowledged that some of his political setbacks, “were deserved”, a head fake towards admitting some of his administrations missteps, it was the first step in rebranding the President as a humbled, but resilient warrior, who was still not a Washington insider. A contradictory position for the singular embodiment of our nations capital to take, but a popular one these days.

This was a speech crafted to remind the American people that the President is on their side and still worthy of their confidence and support.  It was part summary of last year’s “accomplishments”, part position paper and part pep rally.“To Democrats, I would remind you that we still have the largest majority in decades, and the people expect us to solve some problems, not run for the hills”, the President said last night, calling on his Congressional colleagues to get there heads out of their collective asses, I’m paraphrasing there. But for all his empowering phrases, folksy antidotes, and relaxed joking persona, it’s difficult to say that the President’s administration has accomplished much of anything to this point.

The lack of accomplishment over the past year was simply staggering, considering the President’s initial popularity at the polls and the strangle hold Democrats had in Congress.  But with all that the President’s administration accomplished one thing, the mostly ineffective federal reinvestment and recovery act, which did little more than build a bridge half way over the canyon that was the economic recession. Once that was accomplished, the President turned his gaze towards health care.

Half a year of political capitol was spent on the health care debate that the President, with all his communications skill, could not control. From death panels to claims of socializing medicine Republican’s controlled the health care debate forcing the President to play more defense than offense.  But it shouldn’t have mattered, Democrat’s had boardwalk and park place the game should have been over.

The President should have been able to herald the passage of health care reform as proof of his administrations effectiveness in his first state of the union. What more could a President need to push through his health care legislation or any other piece of his first year agenda? President Bush seemed to be able to do just about whatever he wanted over his 8 years and he didn’t have close to this many political tools to use.

The problem the President has to face now is that we’ve heard it all before. But now we are a year older and we’re still waiting for the hope and change to actually happen. Yesterdays state of the union was the half time speech for a game that isn’t going to well. All it could have done was re-start and re-focus the President’s administration headed into 2010, and that was artfully accomplished.

But as the saying goes, talk is cheap.


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