Besides Congressional “date night” probably the most interesting thing about President Barack Obama’s speech last night was his move from the far left to the center. He is up for re-election in 2012, so he needs the independent voters (Jon Tester is probably taking notes).
Another thing was the subdued nature of the members of Congress. The “date night” deal made a difference just like it does when elementary school teachers change their student’s seating arrangements in school.
The few jokes the President told fell flat, but a few friends gave him a courtesy laugh like you would just to be nice at Christmas dinner when your uncle told a zinger. Maybe Al Franken could have helped with this.
All in all it was a pretty bland speech, but I would give the President a seven out of 10. Here are my thoughts on the speech:
The President spoke of spending cuts, but then offered more spending. But he did address earmarks and one could almost hear a collective groan from all across Montana when the President said, “…both parties in Congress should know this: if a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it.”
As a constant follower of politics here in Montana (and no relatives of mine work for the congressional delegation) I know that Congressman Denny Rehberg agrees with that statement. It would be interesting for an aggressive Montana reporter to get Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester on camera addressing this President’s promise to veto earmarks. Readers may remember that Tester was against earmarks before he was for them (or before he was elected). Both Montana Senators have not been that thrifty in the spending of taxpayer money. Maybe they will now that their party’s President has made the promise to veto their earmarks. Senator Tester is the most vulnerable senator up for re-election in 2012, so look for him to follow Obama’s lead in moving to the center and in Tester’s case a little to the right.
The Montana Delegation:
Here is the response from Senator Max Baucus (his “creating jobs” line is in there). Here is the response from Congressman Denny Rehberg. A response from Senator Jon Tester could not be found on his website at the time of this posting (his press office must have gone to bed early and slept in).
One thing that worried me was the one cabinet member who did not attend (in order to provide continuity in the line of succession) was Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar. I was afraid I’d wake up this morning and find out he had designated the whole state of Montana as a wilderness area.
And then there was the “Sputnik” moment, which had some of the younger people scurrying to look it up on Google. The President said “This is our generation’s Sputnik moment. Two years ago, I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven’t seen since the height of the Space Race.”
The problem is that our “Sputnik moment” will cost money – lots of money – money that we cannot afford to spend at this time.
Teachers are cool:
I liked the President’s part about education. He said, “In South Korea, teachers are known as “nation builders.” Here in America, it’s time we treated the people who educate our children with the same level of respect. He went on to add, “In fact, to every young person listening tonight who’s contemplating their career choice: If you want to make a difference in the life of our nation; if you want to make a difference in the life of a child — become a teacher. Your country needs you.”
Teachers are underappreciated and underpaid in America.
Soon after the speech was completed, the President sent out an e-mail from his campaign with the subject, “We do big things.” In the e-mail you can click on a link (run by the Democratic National Committee) and add your name to a list to “Join the fight to make the President’s vision a reality” and to “Win the Future.” It was nothing but a fundraising tool. Soon after that, the new Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus sent out a statement.
I did not actually watch the Republican response by Congressman Paul Ryan or the Tea Party Response by Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. I did read and watch their remarks this morning. As readers may know, I am not a big fan of Bachmann. I respect her in many ways, but not as a Congresswoman. As for Ryan, I agree with many of his comments, but watching him reminds me of Eddie Munster.
Twitter was great last night. When the Speaker of the House shed a few tears, it went wild. Boehner needs to get a grip. It might be cool to cry on 60 Minutes, but during the SOTU it is not. We expect more from our leaders than to see them crying at the drop of a hat.
You can follow me on Twitter @TheWesternWord. I don’t cry as much as Boehner…