I'm not a hater. I like Obama a fair amount and I think his record is not that bad. Still, I can't help but note some lowlights in his SOTU.
1. Little stuff. A lot of his recommendations seemed pretty inconsequential even though he kept stressing that this was such a historic time and that big changes were needed. He talked about setting up at trade enforcement division, and it wasn't clear what this would do. The WTO already monitors this sort of thing, and it seems that there is very little the U.S. can really do about this, otherwise why would we not be doing it? Even if this is a marginal improvement, it hardly impressed me. Obama also went out of this way to say that he would open up some public lands to alternative energy development and that such development would lead to powering three million homes. However, since there are more than 130M houses, this is less than 3% of homes. Doesn't really get me too excited.
Last, remember when Obama wanted to put all our education resources in a big website. Wow, very unexciting. An editor at the Atlantic tweeted this,
2. Same old rhetoric. Obama needs to get a new series of stock phrase. He said loudly "America will always win," and he insisted on demanding that Congress send him a bill and that he would sign it. Leaders don't condition success on whether Congress acts. Leaders put together a bill and then send it to Congress and promise to work with both chambers to make it law. I'm starting to worry that Obama simply lacks the chops to push something through rather than ask it to be miraculously put into law. Also, he didn't give up his rhetoric about everyone "already agreeing" with his proposals. Obama has a tiresome habit of assuming people agree with him when they don't. Instead, it's becoming clear that the country does NOT agree with Obama and that he must either convinces those people who disagree or find a way to out elbow them and make a decision on an issue and then live with the consequences.
3. Obama's spilled milk joke. Not funny. It's a shame too, because I think he has a sense of humor. After all, he can play basketball, and in my experience, people who play basketball are funny.
4. Length. Obama gives long State of the Unions in general, and this one did not disappoint. I didn't get the numbers, but it really felt like his longest. I found this especially depressing since I thought focus would have really helped him. I tweeted the following at the beginning of the night and I stand by it. "I want to hear Obama deliver a five minute speech just on the economy, spending and entitlements. Set the tone." Well, in retrospect, five minutes is too short, but I think twenty would have been enough.
5. My "TV" reception. I streamed the debate on a laptop and so everything looked pretty bad. Maybe other people who watched this on TV had this reaction too. A different editor at the Atlantic tweeted this: "Once you notice that Obamas face us bright yellow compared to his hands, it's impossible to look at anything else
Photo Credit: wstera2