For those who didn't see BHO's State of the Union, we offer the following quick guide.
Who's Bad in the Union: Wall Street, banks, insurance companies, oil companies, investment managers, those who make more than $250k/year, lobbyists, the Senate, America's Most Powerful Interests, CEOs, politicians (!), TV pundits, BHO himself.
Who's Good in and out of the Union: Main Street, working families, the House of Representatives, small businesses, China, Germany, India, BHO himself.
Who's Not So Bad after All: Dubya, who got blamed for nothing except massive deficits and the awful state of the economy, less than the blame heaped on him by any Democrat since Grover Cleveland. Bush even got indirect credit for a couple of things, like starting the financial bailout that helped Obama keep the economy afloat, though Bush is still miserably to blame for the resulting deficits.
What Didn't Happen Rhetorically: Red-meat populism, the on-the-one-hand/on-the-other-hand false choice. We register huge relief not to have heard multiple references to "fighting" for this or that, and amazement that BHO can hold forth for an hour without his favorite illogical trick. That was change we can believe in.
What Did Happen Rhetorically: Declaring the intention to "clear things up" or "set the record straight" and then offering an epic whopper (saying health care wasn't to score a big legislative victory in his first year, claiming that the deficits are someone else's fault).
Reaganism Omitted to Excellent Effect: All those sappy references to Heroic Citizens seated in the balcony. Maybe that overworked device will now slip into the annals of forgotten sentimentality.
Stuff SWNID Loves: eliminating capital gains taxes on small businesses, more nuclear power, more offshore drilling, more exports.
Same Old Stuff SWNID Hates: Calling "clean energy" projects "infrastructure," slopping up commitments to free trade with calls for "enforcement" that are nothing more than protectionist pledges to organized labor, referring to "overwhelming scientific evidence" for global warming when "predominant grant-supported interpretation of conflicting evidence" is more in order, talking about financial reform (as in regulation) without talking about monetary policy (as in interest rates having been too low for too long) or housing policy (as in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac having driven much of the housing bubble), suggesting that more tuition subsidies will create more college educated people and not simply higher tuition rates and more dropouts, privileging "public service" over private employment as if people who work for a profit don't serve the public.
Most Self-Defeating Observation Likely to Be Overlooked: Noting that health care and tuition have risen at record rates, then promising to subsidize them even more. A reminder to all, yet again: if you subsidize something, it will cost more.
Biggest Deal Likely to Be Overlooked: The favorable mention of a trade deal with Colombia. Finally, BHO may get something right in Latin America.
Biggest Distinction to Be Remembered: When a D talks about cutting taxes, it's always for behaviors that the D wants to encourage. When an R talks about cutting taxes, it's generally for everybody. If 95% of Americans got a tax cut, did you get yours? We certainly didn't get ours. Maybe he was referring to the way that our lowered incomes also lowered our taxes.
Stellar Moments of Political Hypocrisy: Talking about a freeze on discretionary spending "next year" after having raised it by more than 20% this year, insisting on bipartisanship by telling Ds to go forward with their massive majority and scolding Rs for saying no, saying "I'm not interested in relitigating the past" after having blamed the entire fiscal mess on Dubya, claiming credit for ending the Iraq War that was won with a surge that BHO opposed.
Challenge to Which SWNID Will Rise: Asking people to name a better approach to solving America's healthcare problems than what is in the works. We'll give two answers that leave a lot of ground in the middle for further discussion: Wyden-Bennett and what Dubya proposed back in 2005. Sorry, BHO, but we're wise to that trick of pretending that your solution is the only solution on offer.
Lamest Moment: Claiming that a bill on healthcare is "close." Beat that horse one more time, Mr. President: it might not be dead!
Moment of Silence: Discussion of the auto bailout and the exit strategy therefrom.
Singular Moments of Narcissism: Ending the speech with the stirring declaration "We don't quit," then ending it again with "I don't quit." Well, maybe that was a swipe at Sarah Palin.
And Some Notes on the TV Images: We didn't see much of Hillary, who normally is the focus of every third reaction shot (UPDATE: Hillary was abroad on State Dept. business). Who got the incredible idea to put Al Franken right behind the Joint Chiefs? The generalissimos must have spent the evening waiting for the supposedly hilarious Franken to given them a wedgie. But maybe he was preoccupied with the bankruptcy of Air America. NBC ran a commercial for Allstate after the speech, which just reminded us all that David Palmer was a President of whom we could all be proud.