Obama’s Second State of the Union: A Chance to Retake Momentum

Update: nailed it. Thanks for the link, dad!

Although Social Security reform will apparently not make the State of the Union Address — and that’s probably for the better — some commentators note a likely focus on deficit reduction. I for one will keep my fingers crossed, because this could be a stroke of genius.

Polls, including Rasmussen, show Obama up by 5, for the first time in a long time, lending credence to my point during the lame duck session — “they’ll respect us when we win.” With the Republican caucus deprived of momentum, the President’s challenge is to relate to those points that favor Republicans, demonstrate a willingness and ability to address them, and in so doing, utterly obsolete the Republican Party. This means talking about the deficit. The President is in the best position of his political career to declare and explain a factual, reality-based plan for reducing the deficit, one that goes beyond the aspirational and half-broken promises the Republicans have so far offered, and in so doing, steal the issue.

To be clear, I intend him to actually do something. This should be a first real step, not a rhetorical strategy.

That said, tonight’s address also offers a chance to frame the issue. To date, the language of deficit reduction has been the language of anti-government activists, convinced that the federal government can do no right (“starve the beast,” etc.). The President can meet this by touting the ability of government to connect, serve, and unite, but the need to do so within our means. This strategy possesses the additional virtue of utterly mooting the Republican response, already tangled and dragged to the fringe by the “unofficial” presence of Michele Bachmann, an unserious figure if there ever was one. Tonight can be about the contrast between leadership and educated debate, and talk radio style-politics. It’s the President’s to lose.

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4 comments

  1. “The President is in the best position of his political career to declare and explain a factual, reality-based plan for reducing the deficit…”

    No plan based in reality can ignore entitlement reform, specifically SS and Medicare. The military represents 1/5 of the national budget. Phillip has spent a lot of time telling us that tackling discretionary spending is a waste fo time. What’s left? Ignoring SS reform in the SOTU seems to indicate the President is unserious about real change.

    1. Then I haven’t been clear – tackling discretionary spending (especially when you exclude the defense and homeland security portions) can’t get you there BY ITSELF, which many conservatives seem to think it will. As the President noted last night, that amounts to about 12% of federal spending. And I agree – there are sensible entitlement reforms that have been on the table for years, and neither this President nor his predecessors have picked them up. Neither has Congress, no matter who is in control.

  2. He may well retak emomentum between the ends of Pennsylvania Avenue but as a Democrat and a fed, I’m overwhelmed.

    Can someone find me a politician who is willing to stake a firm position without coming off as a nut job?

    1. eh gads I need to learn how to type!

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