Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth


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As I’ve been tweeting, I found that to be close to a home run for the president in terms of presentation and optics. Of course some of the policies advocated aren’t great, and are sometimes actively terrible—but in the end the State of the Union is just words. It doesn’t do anything. The point tonight was for Obama to re-seize control of the narrative and paint the Democrats as the sensible grown-up party they (sometimes) are. I think he did this; he made the Republicans look like chumps and dared them to keep voting “no” on everything. He got them to sit on their hands while Democrats applauded tax cuts and adorable puppies. He was charming and funny and came across as (by far) the smartest and most reasonable person in the room. This is what the SotU is for.

Tomorrow he still has to go to twist some Blue Dog arms and get things done, and if he can’t get some big stuff done soon he really will turn into Jimmy Carter—but tonight he looks like a winner. His presidency has been very frustrating lately, but perhaps this marks a turning point. (Let us hope.) Like it or not, a lot of the time style precedes substance in U.S. politics; Obama wasn’t going to get any victories looking like he looked last week. This SotU moves the needle in our direction, which means I’m happy.

Now, I’m not sure presidential speeches can actually hit do all that much in terms of moving public opinion, much less hit the reset button on a completely toxic political environment—but damned if Obama didn’t try. Home run tonight; tomorrow is another day.

Written by gerrycanavan

January 27, 2010 at 10:44 pm

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