Archive for Sunday, January 24, 2010

Obama’s State of the Union agenda: Yes, I get it

January 24, 2010


— Seizing a chance to reconnect, President Barack Obama will use his first State of the Union address to try to persuade the people of a frustrated nation that he’s on their side, with a familiar sounding agenda recast to relate better to everyday struggles.

In a time of deep economic insecurity, Obama will use this stage on Wednesday to offer hope after a grueling, grinding first year of his presidency, aides say. For the many who think the United States is still on the wrong track, Obama will attempt to present a clearer sense of how everything he’s pursuing fits together to help.

And for jittery Democrats facing re-election this fall, Obama will seek to give them an agenda they can sell to voters.

Obama will propose ways to help the middle class. But any new ideas probably will play a supporting role to the plainspoken narrative he wants to tell, that his agenda works for people despite their growing doubts.

“Obviously you want to write a speech in a way that is interesting enough that people want to listen, and that leaves them feeling a sense of momentum and progress,” senior Obama adviser David Axelrod told The Associated Press. “But these are serious times. I don’t think this is a time for rhetorical flights of fancy.”

What to expect in the speech, which comes during a rocky period for Obama?

Heavy does of health care, despite the setbacks of the past week, and job creation. Obama will address the budget deficit, his bid to take on the financial industry, energy, education and immigration. All those issue, he says, fit into his plan to rebuild the economy.

On national security, he will address terrorist threats, the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan and nuclear disputes with Iran and North Korea.

Recent big events won’t escape notice, such as Haiti’s humanitarian crisis and the Supreme Court ruling allowing businesses and labor unions more power to influence elections. Obama will directly confront a seething frustration with Washington, evident in Republican Scott Brown’s stunning Senate victory in Massachusetts that rattled Democrats and cost Obama the voting bloc he needed in the Senate.

It all points to the message Obama wants to convey: Yes, I get it.

Obama is emerging from a year in Washington that, he now says, has left the public with a sense of “remoteness and detachment” from what he’s been trying to do.

The president says his agenda is not about him. But in important ways, this speech will be.

Moments like this are opportunities for presidents to take or lose command. Obama’s poll numbers on how he handles major issues have been dropping; less than half the people support his management of the economy, taxes and other issues. Unemployment is in double digits and terrorism fears are rising.

To regain his footing, Obama is putting himself on the side of the people. He’s challenging special interests on health care and banking. He’s reminding people that while he got an economic stimulus plan through, he bailed out Wall Street and the auto industry only by necessity.

Expect plenty of looking back, too. Obama wants people who may tune in only occasionally to what happens in Washington to know, as he sees it, that he got some things done this year, particularly on the economy.

Aides say the speech also will feature promises that Obama wants to return to — changing Washington and restoring trust in it. That case looks much more difficult than when Obama was sworn in, as partisanship is as entrenched as ever, and backroom side deals remain a messy part of legislation.

What the speech won’t do is reshape Obama’s agenda. He ran on it and will defend it anew.

“I didn’t run to kick these challenges down the road,” Obama told an audience in Ohio on Friday, seeming to find a campaign voice that had not appeared in so many of his remarks this year. “I ran for president to confront them — once and for all.”


Centerville 8 years, 2 months ago

Note this week's press template (thank you DNC): Obama really got hammered this week, and he does have some mild (but endearly) faults, so now he'll change.

Scott Drummond 8 years, 2 months ago

Take the fight to those who are working against the interests of the shrinking middle class. Name names, explain tactics and turn the fury against those who are truly to blame for the messes we have. Obama's trouble all arise from the fact that he spent the whole first year courting and playing footsie with the right wingers who have no interest in the preservation of an American middle class (the business interests they represent want us desperate and willing to compete for wages against the entire world,) no interest in his success and no interest in improving economic conditions (hurts their upcoming election prospects.) Go to war, Mr. President.

Godot 8 years, 2 months ago

Obama succeeded in winning another award: He is on the Judicial Watch list of 10 Most Wanted corrupt politicians for 2009. So are his treasury secretary, his attorney general, and the democrat leadership in Congress:

  1. Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT):
  2. Senator John Ensign (R-NV):
  3. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA):
  4. Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner:
  5. Attorney General Eric Holder:
  6. President Barack Obama:
  7. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA):
  8. Rep. John Murtha (D-PA)
  9. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY):

I wonder if Obama "gets that," too.

labmonkey 8 years, 2 months ago

Obama doesn't get it. If he could, he would still shove healthcare and cap and trade down our throats. He will still apologize for America when he is traveling around the world. He would take from what he calls the rich (which in reality is mid-to upper middle class) and give to the deadbeats...except of course when it comes to those who donated money to him then he will give money to the ultra-rich.

The United States needs true leadership. Aim that oratory toward convincing people to buy American....that will help gain the manufacturing jobs that are the basis of any stable economy.

labmonkey 8 years, 2 months ago


Although I don't disagree with that list....the fact there are no Republicans on the list makes me wonder about the source.

monkeyhawk 8 years, 2 months ago

"And for jittery Democrats facing re-election this fall, Obama will seek to give them an agenda they can sell to voters."

2 bits says it is the same old "blame Bush" routine, with a little "anger" thrown in.

Remember this thing from last year?

"NEW YORK -- MSNBC's Chris Matthews quietly uttered "Oh God" as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal prepared to give the Republican Party response to President Barack Obama's speech to Congress."

Every time Mrs. Obama pops on to my screen appealing for money, I have that same reaction.

Scott Drummond 8 years, 2 months ago

From the Judicial Watch self description: "Judicial Watch, Inc., a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation...." it was founded by conservative attorney and gets a great deal of money from conservative Richard Mellon Scaife. It is hardly surprising that their focus is on Democrats. They've done some interesting things, however. Their investigation in to george bush's involvement in securing the departure of Saudis (including bin laden family members) immediately after 9-11 is certainly thought provoking.

Godot 8 years, 2 months ago

The "mess" that Obama inherited came to head and burst the day that Lehman Bros filed for bankruptcy. Two days later, the money markets dried up, causing the financial crisis that birthed the TARP. Timothy Geithner was chairman of the New York Federal Reserve at the time. His phone logs from that week have been released.

Here is the list from the day Lehman filed for bankruptcy. It is in reverse order, last to first.

•9:05 pm - Tony Ryan & Don Kohn •8:18 pm - Michelle Smith •7:56 pm - Hank Paulson •7:15 pm - Governor Shirakawa, Bank of Japan •6:34 pm - Hillary Clinton •6:20 pm - Hank Paulson •6:20 pm - Don Kohn •6:16 pm - Paulson •6:07 pm - Bob Kelly •5:52 pm - Dan Jester •5:38 pm - Peter Fischer, Blackrock •5:32 pm - Lloyd Blankfein •5:04 pm - Dan Jester •4:58 pm - David Patterson •4:23 pm - Peter Kraus •4:04 pm - Bernanke •3:58 pm - Brady Dougan/CS •3:57 pm - Dan Jester •3:52 pm - Bob Diamond •3:49 pm - John Thain •3:40 pm - Jeff Immelt •3:36 pm - Hank Greenberg •3:31 pm - Meg Mcdonnell •3:27 pm - Meg Mcdonnell •3:23 pm - Larry Fink •3:05 pm - Lee Sachs •2:52 pm - Bernanke •2:37 pm - Paulson •2:34 pm - Vik Pandit •12:10 pm - Bernanke •1:45 am - Calum McCarthy •1:42 am - Barry Zubrow •1:28 am - Jamie Dimon •12:43 pm - Jeff Lacker •12:38 pm - Hildebrand •12:30 pm - Paul Volcker •11:50 am - Chris Cox •11:27 am - Peter Petterson •11:21 am - Charles O'Byrne •10:59 am - Jerry Corrigan •10:50 am - Michael Bloomberg •10:36 am - Eric Dinallo •10:30 am - Hank Paulson •10:25 am - Chuck Schumer •10:19 am - Bob Willumstad •9:56 am - Jerry Corrigan •8:51 am - Shirakawa •8:05 am - Paulson •7:38 am - Jean-Claude Trichet •7:30 am - Dan Jester/Hank Paulson

This is a who's who of Obama's economic team. Note that senators Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer received calls, but the president, GW Bush, did not. I would think that Paulson would have informed Bush, but that is not known.

Note, also, who Geithner called before he called his own boss, Ben Bernanke

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 2 months ago

The many disasters we are now enduring were created by Republicans and Democrats acting like Republicans.

Obama has run his administration as one of those Democrats, and it has gained him no friends among Republicans, whose only interest is raw power and the service of the top 1% of wealth holders, which not surprisingly includes themselves.

So, Obama, are you going to continue trying to be popular with Republicans (and blue dogs) who will demagogue you no matter what you do? Or will you have the courage to do what really needs to be done?

That will almost certainly require some compromises along the way, but compromise is a two-way street, and if the Republicans refuse to go along, pin their stubborn corruption and dishonesty on them like the badge of dishonor that it is, and make them run their fall campaigns with it in full display.

verity 8 years, 2 months ago

Well said Scott and Bozo. Like Jon Stewart said the other night, nothing Obama does will ever change the minds of the kneejerk haters. Time to start playing hardball.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 2 months ago

"Note, also, who Geithner called before he called his own boss, Ben Bernanke"

One of Obama's first moves should be to fire Bernanke, Geithner and Larry Summers.

Some good replacements would be Joe Stiglitz, Dean Baker, Paul Krugman, William Black.

Godot 8 years, 2 months ago

Check the amount of campaign contributions Obama received from the same people on that call list.

Godot 8 years, 2 months ago

You progressives are so desperate that you are blaming the catastrophic damage done to our economy on Democrats acting like Republicans? You think Chuck Schumer, Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi, Charlie Rangel, Hillary Clinton, Timothy Geithner, Barack Obama and Harry Reid act like Republicans only when they do something you do not like? Take off your partisan blinders and see the truth - we have been and are now being robbed of our future and our freedoms by frauds, cheats and kleptocrats from Wallstreet to K Street, regardless of which party is "in power." That is because the parties do not matter. And neither one of them is ever "in power." The people who control the money are the ones in power.

Scott Drummond 8 years, 2 months ago

"A member of the House Democratic Caucus goes to the doctor. The doctor says, "I have bad news and good news. The bad news is you have a broken foot. The good news is, you're a congressman, which means you have health insurance, which means you'll be able to get treatment without going totally bankrupt, unlike many of your constituents, who you are actively betraying by thinking only of your electoral prospects. And also," the doctor continued, "I can't believe you actually broke your foot by jumping off a bridge just because a Republican told you to. What kind of spineless loser are you? Get out of my office. I can't stand to look at you."

From author David Rees. Pretty good comment on the Mass. result.

Godot 8 years, 2 months ago

Yes, Democrats are always victims. They must blame everything, even their own poor decisions and lack of leadership, on Republicans.

Sign on Obama's desk: "Bush made me do it."

beatrice 8 years, 2 months ago

Godot, do you really believe that Obama inherited a stellar economy or that the actions of the previous administration didn't help push us into a major economic spiral before Obama took office? You can't think the economy was sound when Obama took office. You just can't. Agree or disagree with Obama's policies for improving the economy, but you can't be serious in acting like he came into office with a completely clean slate. Call it "blaming Bush" if you like, but you can't pretend that the previous administration had nothing to do with our current situation. That is just disingenious.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 2 months ago

"They must blame everything, even their own poor decisions and lack of leadership, on Republicans."

Who has done that? Certainly not me.

"Take off your partisan blinders and see the truth - we have been and are now being robbed of our future and our freedoms by frauds, cheats and kleptocrats from Wallstreet to K Street, regardless of which party is “in power.”"

There is much truth here. However, the carte blanche ability of Wall Street and K Street to rip us all off began primarily in the Reagan Administration, and the trickle-down nonsense has been Republican/conservative gospel ever since.

Unfortunately, many Democrats, namely DLC/Clintonite/Blue Dog Dems, saw how lucrative following the Republican lead could be.

While the corruption has become all-pervasive among Republicans (is Ron Paul the ONLY exception?) such is not the case among Democrats, even though the majority of Dem officeholders does seem to be at least partially afflicted.

labmonkey 8 years, 2 months ago


For the hundreth was when the Republicans acted like Democrats is when the country started going downhill. It is the Democratic party who spends, spends, spends. The Republicans acted like Democrats....and the Democrats are acting even more like Democrats.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 2 months ago

Spending isn't really such a huge problem if you get something useful for the money spent. Republicans certainly have learned to spend, but the only ones who benefit are the wealthiest 1%.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 2 months ago

From Frank Rich--

"Obama’s plight has been unchanged for months. Neither in action nor in message is he in front of the anger roiling a country where high unemployment remains unchecked and spiraling foreclosures are demolishing the bedrock American dream of home ownership. The president is no longer seen as a savior but as a captive of the interests who ginned up the mess and still profit, hugely, from it.

That’s no place for any politician of any party or ideology to be. There’s a reason why the otherwise antithetical Leno and Conan camps are united in their derision of NBC’s titans. A TV network has become a handy proxy for every mismanaged, greedy, disloyal and unaccountable corporation in our dysfunctional economy. It’s a business culture where the rich and well-connected get richer while the employees, shareholders and customers get the shaft. And the conviction that the game is fixed is nonpartisan. If the tea party right and populist left agree on anything, it’s that big bailed-out banks have and will get away with murder while we pay the bill on credit cards — with ever-rising fees."

james bush 8 years, 2 months ago

It appears Obama's appeal of socialist utopia is weighing upon the progressive posters here at LJW.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 2 months ago

Squeak, squeak, another rat leaving the sinking ship.

"Arkansas Rep. Marion Berry is expected to announce his retirement tomorrow morning, according to three sources briefed on the decision.

Berry will become the sixth Democrat in a competitive seat to leave in the last two months but the first to announce his retirement since the party's special election loss in Massachusetts last Tuesday.

"The message coming out of the Massachusetts special election is clear: No Democrat is safe," said National Republican Congressional Committee communications director Ken Spain.

Berry, first elected in 1996, had been noncommittal about his re-election bid for months although, privately, his allies insisted he was planning to run for re-election.

While Berry had rarely been challenged in the 1st district over the past decade or so, the seat has a clear Republican tilt as Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) won it with 59 percent in 2008.

Arkansas will be a huge focus of Republican efforts in the fall with Berry and Rep. Vic Snyder (D) retiring and Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) in deep trouble as she seek re-election."

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