I had low expectations of our President going into the State of the Union. I admit this openly and freely. I do not think that our President is post-partisan — “I won” anybody? — and I don’t think that he’s pro-business as everyone claims.
So, with that said, how did he do?
Well, nothing he said fell short of my expectations. I was anticipating class warfare, I was anticipating environmental crusading, I was expecting “blame Bush.” And he delivered.
However, he DID make the case in a number of examples where I found myself agreeing with him, if only his words, but still….
I find that Obama has a very well developed skill at gaining an initial consensus in his audience. Very early on in the address Obama coalesces us with concepts that are indeed noble and agreeable to all:
“Hard work pays off. Personal responsibility pays off.”
“A place where everyone can raise a family, own a home, send their kids to college and maybe put a little away for retirement.”
“Everyone gets a fair shot. Everyone does their fair share. Everyone plays by the same rules.”
Who can deny that we don’t everyone deserves a fair shot? That hard work pays off? That we be able to raise a family? No one, and he knows that. These are throw away concepts. But then he gets into it. He begins going down that whole path that leads to:
Folks at the top saw their incomes rise like never before. But most hard working Americans struggled with costs that were growing, paychecks that weren’t and personal debt that kept piling up.
He’s back to his old tricks. He’s back to suggesting that the “rest of us” aren’t living a life that’s better than the one we grew up in. And it simply isn’t true. Certainly the rich are doing well; good on ’em. But we’re doing pretty damn well too!
I was struck several times in his address at how he acknowledged that traditional conservative concepts were either working or were required in order that things would improve. For example, his recollection of Master Locks:
The CEO of Mater Locks now says it makes business sense to bring jobs back home.
This, of course, is what we have been saying the whole time. Make the environment friendly to the corporation and the corporation will respond.
If you are an American manufacturer, you should get a tax cut. If you are a technology company, you should double that tax cut.
Yes! Yes for the sake of all that’s Holy! We should reduce our tax rate to the point that industry wants to move here. In fact, we should do everything we can to make sure it makes business sense to work here.
On a personal note, his story about Jackie Bray, the out of work woman who received technical training from Cray(?) was great. She was clearly moved and touched and it was a fascinating look into Michele Obama’s personal side as she watched in appreciation of this woman’s moment in the sun. Really great!
After that, Obama moved into a series of points that really scored with me. He spoke about:
- Mandatory graduation
I thought all three were spot on.
It’s no secret that we all love great teachers. That we wanna pay great teachers more money. This is widely accepted. However, when he mentioned that we should remove the poor teachers – I think he lied. He doesn’t think that poor teachers should be fired. He’s too union for that.
I like mandatory school. If we pay for the kids to go to school, they have to uphold their end of the bargain.
And immigration is spot on.
In the end, he delivered what I mostly thought he would. A speech that divided the haves from the have nots. He spoke about fairness and equal opportunity, which I think is code for equal results. He spoke about green jobs and climate change. He spoke about a chasm in DC that he said he wants to cure, but doesn’t really.
He had some good moments. And we should acknowledge that. But in the end, this is an ideological man who thinks that the only reason I don’t agree with him is that I haven’t listened to him talk enough.