Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Post-Game Analysis [UPDATED]

Reaction to the Obama speech and the Jindal trainwreck [updates at top]...

The most striking part of the speech was its sheer – dare I say – audacity. Make no mistake – this speech was an unapologetic, undefensive, and full-bodied embrace of progressive policies. Obama walked up there tonight in front of the entire country and endorsed the most liberal legislative agenda since LBJ. I loved it.

In front of everyone, he stated that he would pursue major legislative efforts on energy, national health care, and education. Then he said he would raise taxes on rich people. Then he said he would cut spending on bloated defense and agribusiness subsidies. Then he reaffirmed that we would withdraw combat troops from Iraq. Then he reminded the country that he is closing Gitmo – and explained the national security rationale for doing so.

Say what you will about this speech, but there was nothing meek or defensive about it. It was a big speech about big things in historic times.

And it’s hard to translate into words how refreshing – how deeply satisfying – it was to see a President stand up and openly embrace such a progressive platform. Having watched the defensiveness of Clinton, Daschle, and John Kerry over the years, it’s just cathartic to see it on a national stage.

Nate Silver:
If it sounds like Jindal is targeting his speech to a room full of fourth graders, that's because he is. They might be the next people to actually vote for Republicans again.

Obama was fantastic - worlds better than his inaugural. He laid out the most ambitious and expensive domestic agenda of any Democratic President since LBJ, and did it so smoothly that you'd think he was just selling an incremental center-left pragmatism. I think that he has an acute sense - more acute than most people in Washington, probably - of just how much running room is open in front of him at the moment, and he intends to make the absolute most of it.

Awesome comment at Daniel Larison's:
Obama’s effort wasn’t great oratory. Certainly no shades of Lincoln or Churchill but that wasn’t the role he was playing last night. He was the family lawyer explaining to the feckless family members (think of the WSJ Bancrofts) that because of their overspending, incompetent management and investment choices the family firm was on the rocks. He’d got a plan to get it off, it was going to cost a lot, it was going to involve some leaps of faith with new products, he’d hired new managers, it wasn’t going to be easy but he thought it had a good chance of success. And the family bought it both because of the superb poise and confidence he brought to explaining it but also because on the whole it sounded adult and grounded in reality. The subsequent carping by a rather geeky family nephew was dismissed as essentially silly and juvenile. I’ve been saying here for months as has Daniel that the GOP has no idea what they are dealing with in Obama and shows no signs of wanting to learn. Their only policy seems to placing a bet against the American people which I think they are going to lose.


Toast said...

the GOP has no idea what they are dealing with in Obama and shows no signs of wanting to learn

In their defense, neither did Hillary or Bill or much of the Democratic establishment.

Smitty said...

Great oratory or not, it was a pleasure listening to a President speak to Congress and those of us in TV land like adults, using well-constructed thoughts. Moreover, his vocal inflections and expressions showed that he actually believes in what he is saying, and not just reading words off of a teleprompter.

I still contend that Jindahl spoke to us in the same tone of voice I use for my 3-year-old.

Mike said...

Did I miss something last night, because I feel like you're all talking about a different speech than I saw.

It was solid, to be sure, but you don't really believe he can do everything he promised, so you? And even if he could, you don't believe he can simultaneously decrease the deficit, do you?

I mean, it's nice to see him talk to his constituency and not pander to the GOPers, but in the end words don't mean shit.

Actions do.

And he can't -- literally cannot -- do all that he promised last night. It defies mathematics, it defies reality. The campaign's over, it's time to explain details, lay out the real plan.

I only heard rhetoric.

Mr Furious said...

Mike, You're reading this post wrong. It's got nothing to do with the content of his speech as fiscal reality or policy detail, but is a snapshot of the state of politics.

A Democrat is finally seizing control of the debate and setting the frames. Once again, I was having my doubts about how Obama was playing the game and again he is a move ahead of me—and a couple games ahead of the GOP.

He stood up and, unlike any other Dem I can think of in my lifetime, successfully sold the country on a decidedly progressive agenda. He shoved it right in the Republican's faces and had them completely off their game—they stood up and applauded "We DO NOT torture!" and "health care reform will nor wait" fer crissakes.

Nobody here, or at any of the sites I read, actually believes he can pull ALL of this stuff off, but he has the right reeling and is grabbing back territory by the mile.

Last night wasn't about details, it was reminding everyone exactly what happened in November. He told a country wobbling on the edge, looking for some kind of assurance from someone that "These fucknuts over here and their trickle-down horseshit, tax cuts and deregulation got us in this mess, and now a fucking grownup is here to clean things up."

The Republicans countered with their supposed best and brightest and the best he could come up with is volcano-pork and a "Oh, did I mention we have some tax cuts and a plan to get the government of your back?"

Obama = The Roadrunner
GOP = Wile E. Coyote

Mike, you're trying to argue, "Wait! Doesn't the Roadrunner need to eat and sleep?"

Of Course, but this is about watching the right crush itself with its own anvils and Obama sidestepping them at the canyon rim.

Mr Furious said...


Also, watch the desperate scrambling on the talk radio front. They expected a big doom and gloom, nanny-state speech and the glorious debut of the GOP's Great Brown Hope.

Instead, Obama was steady and reassuring—even encouraging—and Jindal is a national laughingstock. But Limbaugh bet the house on that guy and spent the day yesterday screaming "Trust me! This guy's a genius!" Even the dittoheads must be catching a whiff.

Mike said...

I hear you. And if the political arena is the point, I can't argue. Obama's a kick-ass politician, no doubt.

But, in the end, he's winning a battle about words, about positioning, about which party stands tallest.

Things I don't care about.

I care about implemented policy. And so far, I don't see that much has changed. He says "America doesn't torture," but he hasn't rolled back the policy of extraordinary rendition.

He says we'll end the war in Iraq, but the defense portion of his budget is HIGHER than it was under Bush.

And he says we'll hold the banks accountable, but his guy Geithner fights like a junkyard dog to remove provisions to cap executive bonuses from legislation.

It's all rhetoric.