Thursday, January 28, 2010

SOTU Redux

First, KO’s best-ever comment:

Last night’s speech didn’t come close to this, but what speech could? This is, indeed, the Great Man’s template, a call to arms against those forces that threaten our democracy. Listening to FDR moves the soul and reminds us there are things worth fighting for. Thank you for this, Keith:

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President Obama had his moments last night. He could, and should have gone further, but his unprecedented scolding of the Supreme Court -- “With all due deference to separation of powers” -- was necessary (thanks for heeding the suggestion, Mr. President):

We see Justice Alito shaking his head and mouthing the word “no,” right wing Republican hack that he is, not an “impartial” Justice. This is simply the latest example of the other branch of government showing disrespect for the executive branch, in the person of President Obama. The first was Joe Wilson’s disrespect, speaking for the legislative branch. It seems the only thing that kept Alito from jumping to his feet, pointing a bony finger at the President, and screaming “YOU LIE!” was the hovering presence of our generally mild-mannered Senator Dick Durbin, clapping extra hard over the Justices’ heads, as if he was ready to smack down any black-robed hombre who tried the Wilson stunt.

Yeah, you actually do look like a “bump on a log,” Mr. Alito. (Former Chief Justice Rhenquist famously discouraged his crew showing up at the SOTU because they’d look like “bumps on a log.”)

The President lurched right while boxing in the Republicans and daring them to do something constructive instead of saying NO to everything. It played well in the hustings but the Republicans, as Harry Truman said, are not going to change their stripes. Not quite sure the President realizes this yet, which is worrisome. It’s fine to urge Congress to show leadership, but in the end, it’s the President who must lead.

Tactically, though, the President called their bluff and dared them to respond to the populist anger against Wall Street. The Republicans, who are in bed with the bankers, quite simply will not. At the same time, Mr. Obama mocked Democrats for having the largest majority in decades, with which people expect them to solve problems, not “run for the hills” -- another theme echoed in this blog. He held his ground on healthcare, trying to inject some backbone into the Democratic Party, telling them in effect to get it done. Obviously, the House needs to pass the Senate bill and fix it in reconciliation. (The President lavished praise on the House showing open admiration for Speaker Pelosi. And why not? Nancy Pelosi got his agenda passed in the House while the do-nothing Senate was seriously dysfunctional.)

Yet President Obama keeps throwing Republicans more red meat. It’s not going to work. Little was said by talking heads about the President's unsettling swing to the right on energy policy: a radical turnaround embracing new nuclear power plants, offshore drilling, and so-called "clean coal" as a trade-off to compel recalcitrant Republicans to support climate change legislation. Likewise, the spending freeze is a largely symbolic gimmick that is bad policy but good politics in terms of neutralizing a raise in the debt limit and Republican assaults on Social Security and Medicare.

Ultimately, President Obama was his most confusing counterintuitive self: partisan/nonpartisan; spending/freeze; jobs/teenie tiny $30 billion in 2010, NADA in 2011; healthcare/let's get it done with Republicans (?) -- best to wait till Hell freezes over. Everything so positively Clintonian triangulation. Clinton is the template. Nothing close to “I welcome their hatred,” unfortunately.

But that president had the American people -- and kept them -- with him from the start.


Anonymous said...

The outburst of that Rep. last time, and Alito now, look to me like tips of the iceberg of disrespect that most white people have for black people in general.

Ever heard anyone do stuff like this at any other State of the Union address?

Those are also signs that the Republicans, and behind them the most reactionary of the Holders of Capital, have come to believe that they have a RIGHT to rule. And Alito's decision insures that they will rule in future, barring another depression, which may convulse the political landscape.

The non-wealthy have been so thoroughly propogandized by vicious radio commentators, superficial pundits, and Faux News that they believe about what the reactionary Wealthy believe.

What we are seeing going on in this period, IMHO. is the early steps toward the US becoming frankly and unapologetically an oligarchy of the wealthy.

I've come to believe that against such a major historic drift there is really nothing Democrats can do.

I say this with great sadness.

Carlos said...

Maybe not the Democrats, but there's plenty the people can do. Great, tectonic shifts in our democracy have never occurred without the participation and mobilization of people at the grass(net)roots. This is one of the worst SCOTUS decisions in history, but they have been reversed in the past and/or neutralized with legislation.

If Democrats in Congress continue to waffle and wobble in Congress, the time may fast be approaching for a one-, or two-million or more person march on D.C.