Obama’s SOTU: Hit or Miss?

January 26th, 2011 at 9:07 am David Frum | 59 Comments |

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What to like in Obama’s SOTU:

  1. The gracious congratulations to the Republicans and John Boehner.
  2. His reminders of the country’s positive accomplishments, including the country’s huge lead in labor force productivity.
  3. His explanation that the challenge to less-skilled US labor comes much more from technology than from foreign competition.
  4. Opening the door to firing bad teachers.
  5. Call for a stepped-up national infrastructure program. If only he’d explained how this would work.
  6. Call for lower corporate tax rates with fewer loopholes.
  7. Openness to amendments on healthcare reform.
  8. Endorsement of cuts to Medicare & Medicaid.
  9. Endorsement of malpractice reform.
  10. Bringing forth the designer of the Chilean miner rescue tunnel. Nice!

What’s not to like:

  1. The disingenuous suggestion that China’s growth is driven by superior Chinese education system. Don’t confuse Amy Chua’s kids with off-the-farm peasants in Chinese factories.
  2. The call for more creative thinking in American education. Creative thinking is good, obviously. But the kids who are in most trouble need more drill, not more questions about their feelings.
  3. The too clever-by-half slip from the need for government to invest in basic research (yes) to the value of government investment in development of particular energy technologies (a record of failure).
  4. The pledge to put electric vehicles on the roads. So long as 50% of our power comes from coal, electric vehicles are not “clean.”
  5. The pledge to reach 80% clean electricity by 2035. If this is done by neutral across -the-board means like carbon taxes, fine. If done by favoritism for particular energy forms – and especially by tax credits or subsidies – it’s national industrial planning and is bad.
  6. The misleading implication that bestowing more college degrees will address educational deficits. It’s the low quality of American secondary education that is the problem.
  7. The endorsement of DREAM – made worse by the total fuzz of the commitment to immigration enforcement.
  8. No mention of Colombia FTA in trade section of speech.
  9. Very backhanded comments on deregulation
  10. Repudiation of benefit cuts to future Social Security beneficiaries.
  11. Silly earmarks pledge 100% guaranteed to be broken.
  12. Graceless comment about restoring America’s standing: ill-judged from a president whose foreign policy becomes more continuous with his predecessor’s seemingly with every month.

UPDATE: My mistake, the President did reference the Colombian FTA here:

Now, before I took office, I made it clear that we would enforce our trade agreements, and that I would only sign deals that keep faith with American workers and promote American jobs. That’s what we did with Korea, and that’s what I intend to do as we pursue agreements with Panama and Colombia and continue our Asia Pacific and global trade talks.

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59 Comments so far ↓

  • lessadoabouteverything

    ktward, yeah, great posts. I didn’t comment on Jen’s, but DFL’s was either a very funny satire or so flat out ridiculous I had to comment.

    I do disagree with this: Eliminating earmarks as I noted just puts more power into the hands of the Executive Branch.

    It all depends on how we define earmarks, sticking pork in a 3,000 page omnibus bill at the last minute is an earmark, having a hearing in the relevant oversight committee over the spending and then inserting it in the bill is not an earmark. It might be the exact same item, it is just a question of transparency.

  • midcon

    ktward, Re: watching reruns and Ryan.

    Well said. I can’t wait for the response, if there is one.

  • JeninCT

    Thanks ktward, I always appreciate your point of view. To clarify: I did not WATCH the speech on TV. I did, however, read much of the text and comments from all my favorite writers this morning. I even watched clips (unavoidable) on the news this morning.

    And YES, I believe it was a collossal waste of time. He was all over the place; throwing meaningless words around. I know what the state of the union is. We are in a ridiculous amount of debt and we don’t need the government funding high speed trains or ‘investing’ any more borrowed money in anything. We need a leader; we don’t have one. Sorry, that’s how I feel.

  • drdredel


    “throwing meaningless words around”???

    You’re the same JeninCT who has defended Palin in the past, right?

    I would strongly suggest having some professional take a look at your “meaningful words”ometer.
    It’s not as finely oiled a machine as you give it credit for being.

  • JeninCT

    Dredel you’re funny as always but the fact is Obama’s words are meaningless. He can talk well but says little that is believable to me. His ideas lean toward growing government which I wholeheartedly disagree with. Palin, on the other hand, may have less fluid speech patterns but I believe what she says and I believe she is not just saying what she thinks people want to hear. And her ideas are more in line with mine.

  • Slide

    JeninCT // Jan 26, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    To clarify: I did not WATCH the speech on TV. I did, however, read much of the text and comments from all my favorite writers this morning

    I’m curious, who would your favorite writers be JeninCT? As you are a big Palin supporter, I am most curious as to what you read. Call it my Katy Couric question.

  • JeninCT

    OK, Katie, I’ll bite: Some of my favorite political writers/bloggers (not in any particular order) are Victor Davis Hanson, Krauthammer, Jonah Goldberg, Byron York, Breitbart, Rich Lowry, Camille Paglia, Kristen Powers, John Hayward (aka Doctor Zero) Ace, Slublog…oh and Ann Coulter because she makes me laugh out loud. My favorite (political) book is Silent America by Bill Wittle.

    Who do you read? I will check them out…

  • Slide

    Victor Davis Hanson, Krauthammer, Jonah Goldberg, Byron York, Breitbart, Rich Lowry, Camille Paglia, Kristen Powers, John Hayward (aka Doctor Zero) Ace, Slublog…oh and Ann Coulter

    Exactly what I though. Every single one of them is a right winger. Don’t you think you do yourself an injustice by not reading what those on the opposite side might be saying? This is the problem with the right today. They live in a complete echo chamber and over time really lose touch with reality. Studies have shown that Fox news views are incredibly ignorant about facts.

    I try to listen to all viewpoints. I am a regular reader of NRO’s the Corner and when I want to see what the real crazies are up to I go to Riehl World View, I hit Brietbart occasionally and of course I am here. I think you would sound less like a “dittohead” Palin bot if you expanded your reading list.

  • JeninCT

    Slide, nice try, but you asked for my favorites, not the complete list. I also read stuff like Kos to see how the other half lives. I answered in the spirit of sportsmanship and you answered like a jerk.