My Elder Son was on his way home from school and listening to the speech as he drove. He came in and said, “this speech is reminding me of Chesterton’s dictum that
‘The reformer is always right about what is wrong. He is generally wrong about what is right.’”
I ended up surprising myself by live-blogging much of the speech, so you can read what I thought, there.
Mostly I thought Obama was less fluent that he had been on the campaign trail, and less dynamic or energetic. I also thought his speech was a rhetorically unlovely laundry list that went heavy on the cognitive dissonance, particularly when he talked about Washington, how Washington works, the “tone” and “finger-pointing,” and so forth. I felt like he was the only person in America who had not watched the past year of his presidency. Sorry, Mr. President, but you can’t keep campaigning as the “outsider” when you basically ARE Washington. “Everyday is not election day,” from the man who lives the permanent campaign.
I was also surprised at how perfunctory and almost disinterested he sounded about terrorism, and I was sorry he could not resist the urge to bash his predecessor, no matter how subtle he thought he was being. Also, I want to know what Justice Alito mouthed.
UPDATE ON THAT: Justice Alito mouthed, “not true” and Hot Air has the tape. Bradley A. Smith at NRO writes that the president was wrong on Citizens United v. FEC and ends: This is either blithering ignorance of the law, or demogoguery of the worst kind.
I wonder what Sonya Sotomayor thought of the Chief Executive “with all due deference” dissing the Judicial branch and inciting the Legislative Branch against it.
And you know, I still can’t believe that the guy who amassed more than $600 Million in campaign contributions (much of it from Wall Street, Evil Banks and Lobbyists) had the face to stand there and talk about campaign finance reform. I mean, again – BONG!!! – cognitive dissonance. Is this man totally disconnected from himself?
The full-text of the GOP response.
Richard Fernandez: Translates
Instapundit has a long and thorough round-up of all the live-blogging – really you must go read it- including this bit:
Seems pretty much like a recycled campaign speech to me. And not just recycled campaign speech — the Cato folks note this:
“Through stricter accounting standards and tougher disclosure requirements, corporate America must be made more accountable to employees and shareholders and held to the highest standards of conduct.”
–George W. Bush, 2002 SOTU
They told me if I voted for John McCain we’d see a third Bush term. And they were right! [LATER: Tad DeHaven keeps running quotes from Bush SOTUs that match what Obama's saying tonight.]
Insty’s daughter says “it’s weird” how often Obama needs to mention Bush. Then there is this:
Reader Rob Lain emails:
Obama SOTU 2010 First Person Singular Pronoun Count = “I” – 96 times, “me” – 8 times.
Bush SOTU 2008 First Person Singular Pronoun Count = “I” – 39 times, “me” – 2 times
I dunno, but what’s funny is that I think Obama was restraining himself here . . . .
Jim Geraghty: On His Last Day in Office, Obama Will Still Be Talking About What He Inherited
You know, one could argue that President Bush “inherited” Al Qaeda from Bill Clinton, who did little-to-nothing in response to all of Al Qaeda’s provocations throughout the 1990′s and unto the USS Cole bombing. But never, not once, did Bush ever say, “I inherited this…” It’s time for Obama to become a man.
Obama’s head games
Kathryn Jean Lopez:
Perhaps he has learned belatedly that apologizing for America doesn’t fly. I wonder, too, if being commander in chief has affected him. How could it not? It may not translate into the right policies, but I think there is a little bit of a different Barack Obama because of that role he plays. At least rhetorically. There’s at least a little American exceptionalism salt on this speech.
NRO Editors: The speech was the STATIST Quo
The Race-Fixated Chris Matthews: “I forgot he was black for an hour…”. Whaaaa?
I forget it all the time. It doesn’t mean anything to me. I don’t get the impression that it means much to Obama, himself. Why does it mean so much to Matthews? Maybe he’s just more aware and smarter than I am. It’s possible. Or, he is just channeling Harry Reid.
The US is ungovernable?
It was amazingly disconnected from the moment—treating and describing the public as downtrodden, depressed, but resilient, when the public mood seems more like fed up. . . . The Massachusetts election has certainly left the Democrats disoriented, and it showed tonight.
Was Obama warning Republicans?
A word cloud of Obama’s speech looks downright Bush-ian.
Randy Barnett, a Law Prof at Georgetown did not like Obama’s dig at the SCOTUS:
In the history of the State of the Union has any President ever called out the Supreme Court by name, and egged on the Congress to jeer a Supreme Court decision, while the Justices were seated politely before him surrounded by hundreds Congressmen? To call upon the Congress to countermand (somehow) by statute a constitutional decision, indeed a decision applying the First Amendment? What can this possibly accomplish besides alienating Justice Kennedy who wrote the opinion being attacked. Contrary to what we heard during the last administration, the Court may certainly be the object of presidential criticism without posing any threat to its independence. But this was a truly shocking lack of decorum and disrespect towards the Supreme Court for which an apology is in order. A new tone indeed.
I doubt any apology will be forthcoming, but that really was a stunning bit of theater put on by the president. And he was a constitutional law professor, wasn’t he? What a deplorable display.
Gateway has Palin and Hannity talking about it.
Obama writes to his donors: (paraphrase) You liked my speech? Send money!
Ed Driscoll: The Semiotics of the Anointed
Okay, off to bed. Tomorrow will be time enough to dissect! Goodnight.