Thursday, January 28, 2010

The speech

I turned off the TV last night shortly after the president's State of the Union speech. (I did stay with it long enough to see the usual posse of congressional camera hogs - like chief hog Eliot Engel of the Bronx - who annually stake out their places on the aisle early in the day to shake the president's hand and get their mugs on television.)

The president gave a good speech, I thought: firm where it needed to be; taking blame where it was deserved, but pointing the finger at others as warranted (including the Supreme Court, much to the obvious disdain of Justice Alito).

Obama was grim, but hopeful, stern, but with an outstretched hand. Should get a pretty good bump in the polls and maybe even some grudging admiration from political foes, is what I concluded as I clicked off the set.


First thing this morning the commentators and Republicans I heard were on the attack. The outstretched hand was figuratively swatted aside.

Maybe this is the way Democrats acted when Ronald Reagan's first-year numbers were even worse than Obama's. But Reagan had deal-making Democratic leader Tip O'Neill with whom to govern. Nobody on today's Republican roster can stand in O'Neill's shoes.

Maybe Obama will have better luck this weekend when he speaks at a Republican House retreat. But I wouldn't bet on it.
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