A disappointing State of the Union address - an editorial the day after
PRESIDENT OBAMA entered office promising to be a different kind of politician - one who would speak honestly with the American people about the hard choices they face and would help make those hard calls. Tuesday night's State of the Union Address would have been the moment to make good on that promise. He disappointed.
Obama's economic proposals: Okay, as far as they go
an editorial by Harold Meyerson
America, President Obama emphasized in his State of the Union address, must really be open for business. It must create growing markets for the alternative energy industry. It must generate more scientists and engineers. It must build high-speed rail and Internet to compete with other nations'. It must adjust corporate taxes so they're more in line with our global competitors'.
Mr. Obama's missed opportunity on gun control an editorial
THE FAMILY of Christina Taylor Green, the 9-year-old murdered during the Tucson rampage this month, sat elbow-to-elbow with the first lady during the State of the Union address Tuesday night. Also guests of honor were Daniel Hernandez, the intern who assisted Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) immediately after she was shot, and Dr. Peter Rhee, who was in charge of caring for the shooting victims.
But conspicuously missing during the president's hour-long speech was any mention of the kind of gun control laws that might have saved the little girl and made unnecessary the heroic acts of Mr. Hernandez and Dr. Rhee.
Obama finds a new angle to reach old goals
editorial by E. J. Dionne
The era of no politicking is over. Tuesday's State of the Union speech laid out a rationale for the Obama presidency that stands a chance of enduring through Election Day 2012. The choice is between backward-looking Republicans who talk grumpily about government spending and "Obamacare," and forward-looking Obama Democrats who would use government - carefully and efficiently, of course - to restore American leadership and a humming, innovative economy.
In fact, what Americans must be ready for now is the paradoxical phase of Barack Obama's presidency. Many things will not be exactly as they appear.
Paradox No. 1: Because over the next two years he can't get far-reaching, progressive legislation through the Republican-led House, Obama will be doing far more to make the core progressive case that energetic government is essential to prosperity, growth and equity.
Paradox No. 2: His talk about the new, the bold and the innovative is in the oldest of political traditions. The Obama of Tuesday night represented not the rambunctious liberalism of the late 1960s but the unifying, John Kennedy-style liberalism of that decade's beginning - with a dash of Dwight Eisenhower moderation. Obama also sounded like a Whig, the insufficiently appreciated 19th-century American political party that proudly included Henry Clay and Abraham Lincoln.
Paradox No. 3: Obama used a conciliatory speech to pick some carefully chosen fights. It will be amusing to watch Republicans defend the oil companies' tax loopholes that Obama would like to scrap.
Paradox No. 4: It may never be clear if American business is co-opting Obama or if Obama is co-opting business.
The greatest shortcoming of Obama's first two years in office was his failure to take Americans back to first principles and tell a credible story about how his approach to governing would move the country forward. The administration's alibi was that it had too much to do to waste time on what the president dismissed as "politicking." No longer.
How Obama's speech muddied the budget debate
opinion by Robert J. Samuelson
It was a teachable moment - and Barack Obama didn't teach. Unless public opinion changes, we won't end our budget deadlock. As is well-known, Americans want budget deficits curbed. In a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll, 54 percent urge Congress and the president to "act quickly" and 57 percent prefer spending cuts to tax increases. But there's little support for cuts in Social Security (64 percent opposed), Medicare (56 percent) and Medicaid (47 percent), which together approach half of federal spending. The State of the Union gave Obama the opportunity to confront the contradictions and educate Americans in the unpleasant realities of uncontrolled government. He declined.
What we got were empty platitudes. We won't be "buried under a mountain of debt," Obama declared. Heck, we're already buried. We will "win the future." Not by deluding ourselves, we won't. Americans think deficits are someone else's problem that can be cured by taxing the rich (say liberals) or ending wasteful spending (conservatives). Obama indulged these fantasies.
by Michael Gerson
We've now had several tests of President Obama's ideological flexibility, proving him as supple and pliant as a hard pretzel. Following the elections of Republican Govs. Chris Christie and Bob McDonnell in 2009, the president was dismissive. Following the election of Scott Brown to Ted Kennedy's Massachusetts Senate seat in 2010, Obama was defiant. Following the largest pickups for Republicans in the House since 1938, Obama has remained in character.
The 2011 State of the Union address was tonally accommodating and ideologically unbending.
There were, in fairness, some concessions to reality. Obama, by conspicuous omission, recognized that there will be no cap-and-trade system to regulate carbon emissions and no quick closing of the Guantanamo Bay prison (where the administration now seems resigned to resuming military tribunals). But other elements of his outreach - promoting teacher quality or reviewing federal regulations - were both minor and predictable.
And when it came to his governing philosophy, Obama shifted arguments without retreating an ideological inch.
These are all from The Washington Post online, I have put only the leading paragraphs up. To read the whole thing click on the headlines.