Posted by: Debby Durkee | January 28, 2010


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Marc Thiesen former State of the Union speechwriter for George W. Bush had some quick responses to Obama’s first foray last night on The Corner at National Review Online:

The speech…quickly descended into scolding and condescension.

He scolded the justices of the Supreme Court in front of their faces and led the entire Democratic side of the aisle into cheering his taunts…

He scolded Republicans for obstruction and declared “we can’t wage a perpetual campaign” — even as he continued, in his speech, his perpetual campaign against President Bush. The fact is, by this time in their presidencies, both of his predecessors had reached across the aisle to seek opposition support for a major initiative (Clinton on NAFTA, Bush on No Child Left Behind). Obama has not one single significant bipartisan initiative to speak of. He has tried to ram through his agenda along strict party-line votes. But the Republicans are obstructionist.

He scolded…all those who have criticized his handling of the Christmas Day bomber, declaring that “all of us love this country” and warning critics to “put aside the schoolyard taunts about who is tough.” If you disagree with Obama’s policies, you are questioning his patriotism…

His one moment of “humility” came when he acknowledged his biggest mistake of the past year: his failure to adequately explain his policies to all of us. This was a State of the Union for the slow learners. His message to all of us was: “Let me speak slowly for you.”

It was quite possibly the most partisan, condescending State of the Union address ever. Tonight, Obama was unpresidential. The permanent campaign continues. In the long run it will backfire.

Read it all here:

Thiesen also has more at the Washington Post where his focus is more on the national defense portion of the speech. Here’s his bottom line:

The fact is, the American people have real concerns about Obama’s approach to terrorism. They do question the wisdom of eliminating CIA interrogations, closing Guantanamo Bay, bringing the terrorists held there to this country, putting Khalid Shiekh Mohammed and his cohorts on trial in civilian courts, and giving captured terrorists Miranda rights after 50 minutes of questioning. Instead of acknowledging these concerns, Obama dismissed them. It was strange, defensive, arrogant — and un-presidential.

Read it all here:

Worst SOTU ever.

Peter Wehner pulls no punches in his review of President Obama’s first State of the Union speech. Wehner was a speechwriter for Bill Bennett and worked in the administrations of Reagan, Bush I and Bush II. He currently is Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. This is from a column at

It was one of the worst State of the Union addresses in modern times – a stunning thing for a man who won the presidency in large measure based on the power and uplift of his rhetoric.

…Much of what he offered up last night was symbolic. His budget freeze on a subset of domestic discretionary spending – which might amount to $15 billion – will hardly put a dent into our $1.35 trillion deficit. His budget commission, which will have no real power or authority, is worthless. His proposal to cut the capital gains tax for small business investment is a step in the right direction – but it will fall far short of what is needed to generate jobs and economic growth. One sensed there was no urgency or passion behind his effort to help small businesses and the private sector.

At the same time, Obama did not back away from his commitment to pass health care legislation that is incoherent, wildly expensive, unpopular, and which would do enormous damage to our economy. Obama also stuck to his guns on cap-and-trade legislation, which would be a job killer. Snip –

what made (the speech) downright harmful for Obama and Democrats was its tone. The speech was defensive and petulant, backward-looking and condescending, petty and graceless. He didn’t persuade people; he lectured them. What was on display last night was a man of unsurpassed self-righteousness engaged in constant self-justification. His first year in office has been, by almost every measure, a failure – and it is perceived as a failure by much of the public. Mr. Obama cannot stand this fact; it is clearly eating away at him. So he decided to use his first State of the Union to press his case. What he did was to set back his cause.

What made the speech a bit bizarre, and somewhat alarming, is how detached from reality the president is. After having spent much of his time blaming his predecessor for his own failures, he said he was “not interested in re-litigating the past.” Barack Obama lamented waging a “perpetual campaign” – even though that is what the president, David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel, Robert Gibbs and others in his employ do on a daily basis.

You’re starting to see on a regular basis many pundits remarking that this president is detached from reality. Many of us have talked about this or blogged about this, but if this “detached from reality” meme catches on with the general public, I’m not sure his how his presidency survives.

Having gone on a spending spree that is unprecedented in American history, the president castigated the political class for “leaving a mountain of debt” to future generations. Having helped to create the worst fiscal situation in our lifetime, he says he will “refuse to pass the problems on to another generation of Americans.” He says, “If we do not take meaningful steps to rein in our debt, it could damage our markets, increase the cost of borrowing, and jeopardize our recovery” – despite the fact that future generations will have to work to undo the deficit and debt he had done so much to increase.

It was as if we were being lectured on marital fidelity by John Edwards or Mark Sanford.

I truly don’t understand this. I guess he figures Americans don’t pay attention and that he can win them over by out and out lies and constant blaming. Where does he think the Tea Parties came from? The country is on to him. They know he lies, and they can see that he contradicts himself, often times in the same sentence. Obama inhabits an alternate universe – Bizarro World. He has a much more at the link.

Rove compares and contrasts.

Karl Rove looks back a little and gives a new perspective to last night’s speech.

It was a tense moment in the West Wing. Less than a year into a new president’s term, a Senate seat was slipping to the opposition and taking with it the balance of power in the upper chamber. The president’s agenda was suddenly at risk.

If this sounds like Republican Scott Brown’s upset victory in Massachusetts last week, it was actually Vermont Sen. Jim Jeffords’s defection in 2001. Mr. Jeffords’s decision to bolt the party cost the GOP not the 60th vote, but a razor-thin majority. Yet following the defection, George W. Bush passed his signature tax-cut package, No Child Left Behind education reform, and a budget that cut in half the growth of discretionary domestic spending from the sizzling 16% rate of President Bill Clinton’s last budget.

…if (Obama’s presidency is) undone by the loss of the 60th Senate Democrat, was Mr. Obama actually prepared for the challenges of governing? Snip –

So Obama’s plan last night was to basically tell the country that if nothing gets done it’s because of Republican obstruction not the fact that he didn’t reach across the aisle to include Republicans in anything that they could actually sign onto. It’s Obama’s way or there’s something wrong with Republicans – just sell your soul and Obama will love you.

Mr. Obama is now calling for a spending freeze to save $15 billion for fiscal year 2011. That’s nice, but it freezes in place a 24% increase in discretionary, nonsecurity domestic spending. The president would also exempt from a freeze the $512 billion that has yet to be spent from last year’s stimulus package. To present such a proposal as a serious attempt at restraining spending is to reveal a low opinion of the intelligence of ordinary Americans.

Condescension, pointing fingers, lecturing, hectoring, arrogance, preaching. Is this a president or a school marm? And we haven’t even talked about his dictator-like calling-out of the Supreme Court. Instead of treating the other two branches of government as equals, he treats them like they are there to do his bidding. How long will Congress keep putting up with that? How long will the American people? Read it all here:


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