Note from Waymon: Let me first say that this was a really dense, full speech to the Nation from Obama. I hope the readers will jump in and leave their own views and impressions on the SOTU- I always learn so much from all of your different views!
Well, it's the day after the State of the Union and it's time to play armchair quarterback!
As a bonafide political geek (who fully admits to watching CSPAN for fun), I have to say on a purely surface level, this was one impressive speech- which we've come to expect from Obama. Of course, this comes after 8 years of watching Bush stumble, bumble, swagger, and "heh heh heh" through every speech he gave.
Here are the moments that stuck out in my head the morning after. Let's start with that LGBT content...
DADT, Hate Crimes, & Civil Rights
Here's the part we were all looking at:
Abroad, America's greatest source of strength has always been our ideals. The same is true at home. We find unity in our incredible diversity, drawing on the promise enshrined in our Constitution: the notion that we are all created equal, that no matter who you are or what you look like, if you abide by the law you should be protected by it; that if you adhere to our common values you should be treated no different than anyone else.
We must continually renew this promise. My Administration has a Civil Rights Division that is once again prosecuting civil rights violations and employment discrimination. We finally strengthened our laws to protect against crimes driven by hate. This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. We are going to crack down on violations of equal pay laws - so that women get equal pay for an equal day's work.
First some good things. Let me acknowledge that I still think it's a good thing to have any attention paid to our issues or community on this kind of scale. The State of the Union is a huge moment for any constituency. It gets the media talking about and sparks more public attention. Lobbyists for different causes would kill for any mention in a SOTU. It also is a bigger deal than when we made the same sort of announcements at an LGBT event (like HRC Dinner in DC) since the audience is bigger and he's not just preaching to the choir.
I also like how he couched LGBT rights with civil rights, the Constitution, and American values. It chips away at the "special rights" argument that is always made by the far right about our community. It's how our rights should be referred to.
Some things that could have been better- I think the hate crimes and employment discrimination language was a little too coded. We got it as a community because we follow and care about these issues, but the American public doesn't really know he was talking about us with buzz words that would resonate only with our community.
My take on the much anticipated "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal moment?
The Good News: A "this year" time commitment on DADT repeal. Even better was the rousing standing ovation and cheers it got from the house. A very cool moment.
The Bad News: There was no real outline or plan on how to accomplish the repeal. There was no announcement on a shift in strategy for ending DADT- no stop loss, no announcement of inclusion in the defense budget, and no announcement of support from Military leaders (which was a prevailing rumor before the SOTU).
Valerie Jarrett did later say on the Rachel Maddow Show that the President would lay out his specific plan in the coming "days and weeks." That's a good sign.
Tough Talk for Everyone and a Weird Appeal to Conservatives
Like I said, this was a dense, heavy speech for a tough time in the country. The overall tone of the speech was tough- he called out Democrats and Republicans for the gridlock in Washington, banks and corporations for their greed, and hit just about everyone else too.
I happen to like the tough talk and calling out. Obama was making a lot of arguments that the Administration should have been making for months now. Is it a sign of tough, fighting leadership to come? Only time will tell.
The thing that gave me pause (and makes me worry about there being any change in tough leadership and head-knocking from the White House) was all the conservative red meat he threw in. Offshore oil drilling, "clean" coal, spending freezes, tax cuts- all things designed to try and garner support from the GOP in the "spirit of bipartisanship."
And we all know how well that's worked out so far...
Smacking Down the Conservatives on the Supreme Court
This was my favorite moment- Obama spanking the Supreme Court for its decision on corporate election spending limits and corporate personhood.
I especially love Alito's head-shaking and "Not true" mouthing. This was a "check and balance" in government moment at it's finest.
Who are those "Activist Judges" again...?
Just a Good Speech or Turning a Corner?
So does this first State of the Union show a new direction of hands-on leadership from Obama or was it just another good speech from a gifted orator?
I'm not sure. I hope that Obama starts finding that fire he had in the campaign to push things through and deliver on some of the big promises he made and expectations he created. Democrats need a strong leader to force them to have some backbone and stop throwing up their hands in defeat ("We only have historic majorities- how can we get anything done??" Ugh.).
So what say you, Projectors? What were your impressions from the State of the Union?