Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Obama's Sputnik Moment sputters.

The day after President Obama gave his State of the Union speech, it seems to have crash landed like a 53 year old satellite called Sputnik. Obama used the reference in his speech as a rallying cry that has most people confused about what he was talking about.

Aside from his misfired Sputnik reference, Obama spent a good part of about an hour and ten minutes in his State of the Union message telling us what, for the last 235 years, the country has stood for. And tell us, and tell us and tell us again.The speech probably left some of them wondering why politics came to mind
when they were choosing a career. In between he gave us the usual politically hackneyed slice of life stories ( "like Marjorie Appleoil, a schoolteacher from Fargo North Dakota who ...") which is supposed to accomplish what, I don't know.

The one interesting anecdote came in talking about the small businessman who thought he had drill bits that could be used to save the Chilean miners and they worked. It was probably the only thing Obama had to say all night that was something I didn't know and was truly interesting.

It was a tepid speech that brought an uncharacteristically tepid response from those in attendance. No cheers, no big applause lines ( even though on a couple of occasions Obama paused, clearly expecting an ovation that never happened). Democrats and Republicans sat together to show unity and it was symbolic of most of the evening, which is to say it was phony and mostly for show. Which in many ways was appropriate to the entire speech.

What added to the phoniness was Obama introducing a new voice inflection, one that he used so often you just know he practiced it for days. For dramatic impact, he would recite the last few words of a sentence with a voice lowered to almost a forced stage whisper, an imploring voice, dripping with sincerity and earnestness as if hoping to cue members of congress to pounce on the applause lines.

It didn't work. There was none of the dog and pony show jumping up to applaud and cheer as if there was someone pushing a button sending ice picks up through the  chair cushions as we have seen in other State of the Union speeches. There wasn't even the enthusiasm you usually see from the president's own party. Which considering reality, was fairly predictable given that Democrats had seen Obama sell out their agenda over the last two years and is responsible for the Democrats suffering the worst political defeat of any political party in 80 years after losing 63 seats in the House. So in one sense Obama did bring both sides together but only in their mutual distrust of him.

Democrats mostly gritted their teeth and listened to Obama state his concerns that the tax burdens on large corporations were too much ( a moment when Obama paused expecting an ovation from Republicans that never came).The unemployed also must have found Obama's concerns for businesses and their tax burdens heartwarming. But Obama did actually put his foot down and took a firm stand,now that its too late to do anything about it, and said that he wouldnt support making the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% permanent. The sound you heard wasn't applause but the collective epiglottis flapping against the throats of Democrats as they started to gag.

It also didn't help the enthusiasm quotient for Democrats to hear Obama talk publicly about the flaws in his healthcare bill, a bill that he had 515 days to perfect but which didn't contain a public option something that not only made it a lousy bill that Democrats called "better than nothing",  but also cost the Democrats their majority.

Obama talked about education, a truly important subject since America is getting its bell rung by China and about 20 other countries in terms of how their children are performing compared to America. But he couldn't find a way to make that interesting either. In fact, if you wanted to see true bipartisanship all you had to do was look at Joe Biden and John Bohener sitting behind him to see that both were having a hard time staying awake.

He spoke to the Gabriella Giffords shooting and political rhetoric but instead of being inspiring, instead of finding a real point to make ( like maybe presenting the idea that in America those who disagree with us should be considered opponents not enemies) he was so boring no one was really moved.

But the main point Obama had to make had something to do with competitiveness, innovation, invention, and American leadership and that we are falling behind. He said " this is our generation's Sputnik moment" recalling the moment in 1957 when the Soviet Union, not the US announced the launch of the first artificial satellite. The problem with that slogan, and that's all it was -- a slogan -- is that, like so much of what Obama says, its just not true. There has been no comparable moment of singular great achievement by another country that we can call " a Sputnik moment" which shocked the United States into action. The decline in American competitiveness and American children falling behind in education has been slow and steady and its been happening for decades.

The reactions coming in to the speech have not been good from any quarter. It was not a Sputnik moment in America. It was another in a long list of Obama moments that simply sputtered.


Anonymous said...

Perfect, Marc. Excellent observations.

I really don't know why anyone (except those obligated to listen to him) even listens to Obama's crappy speeches; he never says anything he means or means anything he says.

It's a waste of my time.

So, thanks for listening to it for us and giving us this report. Makes me even gladder I didn't listen.

Anonymous said...

And now this man is going to spend two years mostly campaigning for re-election on the taxpayer's dime? And thinks he should be given another four years because why?

Anonymous said...

Rumor has it Obama & Co. plan to spend $1 BILLION DOLLARS on his relection. Where will the money come from? The DNC lost a large base of its contributors when they threw Hillary supporters out of the party. College students don't donate to campaigns. Maybe Jeff Immelt at GE, now part of the administration, has a plan to raise/donate millions/billions)...sure hope they don't use TARP/stimulus funds for same.

Anonymous said...

I cannot figure out why more people are not commenting on your excellent writing. I know more people are reading you, as I have been since the 2008 primary.

Thanks for the continuing good reads,

Anonymous said...

Marc, I haven't watched an Obama speech since the inauguration, which was fraught with historical inaccuracies, and usually read them instead. Your synopsis somewhat gives me an urge to watch it for the clues of disengagement and yawn factor that you have discussed.

The SOTU showed me that Obama is so obviously tacking toward the right -- come on blaming education and slow internet for our failing economic growth? -- that I'm stumped by how the usual Obamacrat is able to claim 'he is coopting the right' and other such nonsense. Clearly Obama used some of the talking points that WCJ suggested to him during their recent meeting, but what is most obvious is he does not have a scintilla of WCJ's charm or ability to bring the message home to the rabble.

The mixing of the disparate politicos as well as giving The Tea Party a chance to respond were just cheap theatrics.

There is a growing belief that public govt employees who have not seen salary increases in years and do not even begin to be on par with private industries' salaries should be brought down to the level of everyone else in the workforce by cutting the only thing that attracts govt employees -- bennies. And to see Obama play to this by announcing that fed employees wages will be frozen for 5 years (which we all know is a direct result of freezing discretionary budgets) was downright MEAN and evidence that he is NOT a liberal. Dems need to drive the point home that by erasing public employees as well as unions benefits is a trend that private employees do not want to see happen. Since Obama also made the comparisons to Chinese workers as an example of progress, our main competitors who live in horrid conditions and forced to work "slave labor" but who are now starting to demand the same benefits that US workers used to have, it is a wonder to me that Dems are not up in arms.

I truly do not understand what is going on and why it seems that American workers are seemingly complacent in this fate as theorized is necessary by Republicans and stated by Obama as inevitable.


Anonymous said...

Your comments for the last month or so have been so full of wisdom, truth.

Can't wait to read your comments on BO's "Egyptian Moment"...that came and went....clutched again, deer in headlights...der leader, the Won. Weasel words or nothing.

While Hillary performs - he's at play.