San Diego — I love my friends, especially the ones who can engage in serious discussions even when we disagree. So of course, the sounds from the State of the Union Speech last night as well as the response had not died away before I got messages asking what I thought. I am blessed with acquaintances and friends, some of whom agree with me and some of whom don’t but all of whom can join in a spirited, even passionate discussion and yet never once devolve into the sad state i see on Facebook where bumper sticker/cartoon humor is passed off as intelligent comment and where labeling, disingenuous assertions and illustrations, and outright historically inaccurate quotes or events are passed off as anything other than the petty and often vile propoganda that it really is.
I made the mistake with one person that I other wise like but who insists on posting the silliest, most misleading and often openly inaccurate things he has found somewhere else in the pages of his own side’s choir book as if they were valid and insightful comments or “gotcha” comments. i researched and responded with the facts that countered the ridiculous assertions. THe result? Nothing. He first tried to use the old debating ploy of diverting the subject to some ancillary point or when that failed, excusing one wrong with another wrong as if that made it all right. So i gave up and decided the general tone of the material there is so consummately infantile that all it did was raise my blood pressure for nothing. So i quit and now just skim on by such things. In all fairness i have to tell you i do get the same level of claptrap from those on a side much closer to my own beliefs and the same technique as above was just as ineffectual.
So I’ll stick to my more seriously disposed and far less intellectually challenged friends and here try to answer the questions as well as possible given the short amount of time to try to digest it. I downloaded a copy but have not had the time to really go over it carefully so please be aware that i am here speaking from memory and notes taken during the speech.
First of all, I am sure Obama’s speech will leave most of his disciples in a state of abject euphoria; God knows the man can give a speech. if I were grading his presentation skills in a speech class he would certainly be given an “A.” But content is often a completely different matter. Among the rhetorical flourishes designed so that everyone seemed to have gotten a little of what they wanted there were some “tells” that let slip what he really thinks as well as some items that I believe research will reveal took a most cavalier approach to the truth.
First I must tell you, I do believe the man is sincere in his beliefs and that those beliefs are set forth clearly in his book. They just do not coincide with mine at least vis-a-vis what is good for the country.
He avoided, in the speech, some of the really hot issues like health care except tangentially and served up more platitude than policy… but overall I think he did it really well. And in fact there were a few things i agreed with such as a bill to prohibit insider trading by congress (or, i would add, any governmental official). I wanted him to go further and request a bill to make sure no laws from congress could be made to apply to everyone BUT congress. That would have been a great line and a great position and an absolutely safe one since congress would never agree to it. it would give him a major point in debates and publicity without having the slightest chance of actually happening. I think he missed a chance at a safe line that would have been so powerful that even his opponents would have been taken off guard and perhaps overlooked the rest of it. Everyone in congress would probably have applauded knowing they could then ignore it. And with that no one could question that he really did want to change the way the government did business in a good way. I think he want to do that too but not in a way that for me is a good one.
For example he said a couple of scary things that brought my red flags to full attention. He made it clear that the Constitutional division of powers was a constraint he no longer felt it necessary to observe. We had a previous “tell” of that when the Chinese Premier (or Prime minister, i forget his title) was here during a wrangle over some policy or another and Obama said that his (meaning the Chinese official’s) system was so much easier for getting things done. Whoa…
Well last night he has obviously decided to adopt that approach to simply bypass congress. Of course with his cadre of Czars he has already done that to a very large extent. I would be opposing it no matter who was in office because it flatly tosses out checks and balances as set forth in the constitution and sets incredibly dangerous precedents for those who follow. But it clearly tells how he thinks government should operate: and that is certainly not like a republic
He also made it clear he believes in equality of outcome AS WELL AS equality of opportunity; and that is something I also oppose. He spoke of immigration reform, some of which I agree with and some of which I do not. I agree with a person being able to earn their citizenship but we already have the rules for that laid out on the books. THe first step to citizenship needs to be obeying the laws not breaking them as a first act. For those here legally already then i would certainly entertain discussions on means for them to earn their citizenship. But i have several friends here who were foreign nationals that while here as a student earned their citizenship the prescribed way. I do not see a reason to change that until i hear something better… he did not provide that in the speech but I am open to hearing it. What i do know is that the so-called “DREAM ACT” contains so much in it that I vehemently oppose that the few areas i could accept are so utterly corrupted by the other that I do not support it in its present form. But I am willing to talk about how to make it work.
He spoke several times about “investments for the future” as if he, BHO, knew the future better than those who make a living doing investments and studying such things. I actually believe he thinks he does. And in someways he actually does: he has a future ideal, the same one as his father and his former pastor. He sees it clearly and wants to make it come true. He sees it somewhat uniquely because it is alien to most people who are willing to take him at his word; it leads to a state very different than where we are now, but more importantly, very different than the one put in place by the Constitution. Therefore i am opposed to it.
He outright lied about some of the energy things but that is old news. His platitude about doing EVERYTHING to increase domestic energy was a great line, but i do not believe that he believes it and his actions thus far make that clear.
And finally he had a throw away line that got scant applause because i think it took the audience by surprise and they were not quite sure what to make of it. I asked congress to send him a bill to give him — HIM — the power to “root our corruption in the judiciary branch.” WHAT???!!! He already has basically described a path to circumvent the congress and now wants the power to basically control the judiciary.
Wow! Does no one else see the dangers in that? Even the people who would like to see his policies made law are ignoring the dangers of what then happens when power changes to the other team. And what about that nagging little thing called the Constitution? Will those of you in favor of that do this simple bit of research? Check on the nations and societies that presently or historically have a system in which the leader (whatever he or she may be called) has the power to control the other branches of government and tell me if those are what you want? It is what our president wants. How do i know that? He has said so.
Taken together those philosophical positions overrode any of the more specific policy claims or proposals, even the good ones, since they are directly contradictory and I believe in the power of his philosophical beliefs in which which he has never wavered before can I believe in his policy assertions which he has already backed off or modified.
The Response? I thought the response was a nice essay; I agreed with many of its points. At a spot or two I thought it rose to being a rallying call behind a position and philosophy I liked and wished the candidates were openly supporting them or saying the same things. But in total, it was, to my ears, more a speech in a vacuum and not really a response to the State of the Union. it did not address point by point what was contained in the SOTU speech, showing what could and should be supported and what could and should be opposed and, in both cases, why. So i think it generally fell on deaf ears already calloused by the endless so-called debates.
So, there are my responses so far. I reserve the right to alter some of them after I’ve had a chance to read the transcript of the speech and do some research and fact checking on its various points.