I have said multiple times that I felt that the 2012 reelection strategy for president Obama would be a class warfare battle. To be more precise, he would take essentially the occupy movement’s stance on things – Republicans are wall street, they are rich and thus terrible, they don’t care about anybody and are heartless, and just want to be big ol’ meanies and hoard their money while they -take- all your benefits away.
More after the jump.
Those of you who glance by tonight (1/24/12) — Have drunkblog of the speech from PJMedia
This story has reconvinced me to do the paragraph by paragraph breakdown of Obama’s New Nationalism Speech that I teased last month. I had dropped it for reasons of sanity and time, but now? It’s simply too important. I need to make a good strong easy case as to the president’s mindset and philosophy, as I feel it clashes with the core values this country was founded on.
First, though, it’s likely I’ll tackle the president’s address he will make tonight. You folks will be getting a lot of politician speak translation in the coming weeks!
The State of the Union Address is traditionally the president’s opportunity to discuss the state of the nation and to present his legislative priorities for the coming year. It’s a formal affair, a bit over-hyped, but all news stations cover it and it gets a lot of attention. Powerful presidents use this address to try to set a legislative tone and to try to wield their influence as the technical leader of their party. It doesn’t always work.
You have to remember – in American politics, the president can’t just make legislation. That’s in the hands of congress. It’s a question of how effectively he can wield his influence, how seriously he will be taken by others, etc. etc.
It’s unusual for a president to turn this address into a what amounts to a campaign speech – this is supposed to be the president talking to congress and pumping up the country more then anything else. Obama has in the past used the speech for more overt political purposes and nudging, such as when he criticized members of the supreme court sitting not far away from him on an issue where he was arguably incorrect.
Will he repeat this attitude? Forecasts call, as stated above, for the president to hand wring and chide a ‘do nothing’ congress and Republicans for messing up everything. This is a false argument, especially when one notes that congress has not passed a budget in 1000 days (yes, today is the 1,000th day! Good timing, Mr. President) and was in democratic hands until 2011. Democracts right now are making a political calculation that they can get everyone all worked up over semantics and ‘big bad greedy Republicans!!’ so that the democrats can quietly tip toe away.
Republicans are hardly innocent. The power brokers of the party have made it very clear that they reeaaally don’t want to let go of the old political ball game and refuse to let go of progressive conservatism (we’ll talk about this later). There have been games played in congress, stances taken and then undermined, and a lot of drama done to satisfy some but in the end..all to make political deals requiring compromises on principals.
But Democrats have had the trigger to make hard policy in congress for years and never exercised it. I’m not saying they should have- I’m very glad they didn’t, because I think their policies are wrong headed! But I am attempting to show the largest, glaring weakness in Obama’s statement. He wants to blame congress. He wants to blame others. He wants everybody to blame everyone except for him.
The President almost seems to want to declare congress worthless and just move around them in a serious way. He’s flirted with the idea, toyed with it multiple times in speeches, and has demonstrably had the executive branch do it as a matter of policy. If he wants to play that game he needs to take accountability for his actions and stop constantly passing the buck.
There’s also the grating tripe that is populist class warfare that almost amounts to an attack on the very idea of capitalism. If he gets into that angle hard in this speech, I’ll probably be bellowing my rage to the heavens and tearing out my hair. Well – not really, but. I’d want to.
What would I like to see?
I would much rather see the president present a plan, SOME plan, that didn’t have as it’s main supporting argument “Congress is evil republicans are evil vote for me”. I would like to see him address the very real problems in this country, to pledge to stop blaming bush and just move forwards, and to make real pledges on an actual transparent government. I want to hear him encourage both parties to listen to their constituents with the goal of making progress. It would be AMAZING if he actually took entitlements seriously and expressed to Americans the true magnitude of our debt problem. I would LOVE to hear him mention things like ‘single issue bills’! And I would really love to hear a thoughtful, heartfelt speech that didn’t make me think it was just another stump speech on the campaign trail.
There are things in there any partisan can like. It wouldn’t be that hard to do it. It won’t happen – but we’ll see.
I’d encourage any of you with the means to watch the speech yourself. It airs 6pm Eastern Time and is very likely available on the interwebz. Once it airs, I’ll start a posting series on the speech, taking it apart piece by piece, along with a nice reference to the video of the speech as well as the transcript. It’ll be a -lovely- exercise in translating politician speak. Probably a painful one too.
TheDougem in the past has shared some thoughts on Obama’s speaking. There was an address the president gave way back when he was inaugurated that actually was not a bad speech – but the context, of course, was that this was a guy with great speaking skills and little else substantive to his record. (we never have seen his law school transcripts, have very few written works by him. He was a senator for a grand total of one month. His past is shrouded in fog). Obama the newbie is a guy a lot of people miss.