So, was I the only one who burst out laughing when President Obama said he would veto any bill with earmarks in it that comes across his desk? Puh-leeze. We've heard that one before, haven't we? Not even Harry Reid is buying into it - he actually put it into perspective quite nicely, via ABC News (emphasis mine):
“Without any question,” Reid replied. “I understand it’s great for an applause line, but it’s really not solving anything to do with the deficit. It’s only for show.”
“So you’re saying that earmarks will be back?” said Karl.
“Of course they’ll be back,” said Reid.
Every suggestion for improving the national situation involved a government based 'solution', usually in the form of spending. Or, as President Obama prefers, "investment". I'd like to see a poll on how many people buy the "investment" line, as opposed to those who know it is just progressive-ese for more spending. You would think that he would have learned by now that throwing money at a problem doesn't make it go away. Not even $5 trillion.
Did anyone else have a deja vu moment when he talked about an infrastructure spending bill? Um, didn't we do that already? That turned out well. I seem to recall it wasn't really popular, either. I had to stifle a laugh when he mentioned all the construction jobs created by the Porkulus bill. Perhaps his staff are filtering the news for him. Whatever the case may be, it was a ludicrous statement.
At least this year he admitted that America is a great country. That's new. Too bad he saved it for the very end, when everyone had already tuned out. Maybe next year he'll put it at the beginning of the address, where it's usually mentioned. He was more upbeat this year, which was nice, and not chastising members of one of the other two branches of government was certainly appreciated. The speech was delivered well, as usual, although the breathy emphasis on certain words was a new and, after a while, annoying addition to his speaking style. And yes, the smoked salmon joke was funny, I have to admit. Just a thought, though - when proposing a government answer for every problem, perhaps it's better not to remind anyone how byzantine, redundant and/or ineffective government can be, no matter how funny the reference. His tone was, for the most part, upbeat and warm (perhaps an attempt to cozy up to an electorate that has cooled towards him), but there was a serious lack of direction in the text. Unfortunately, the only path he really mapped out for us was a one way trip to the investment-driven poorhouse.
It would have been nice if he had mentioned the disaster of epic proportions that hit our country in 2010 - the Gulf oil spill. Not a word was mentioned about it, which is remarkable. But, then again, it hasn't warranted mention anywhere since shortly after they capped the well. How's the cleanup going? Any word on where that 22 mile long plume went? I guess one of the largest natural disasters our nation has ever seen doesn't deserve mention in the State of the Union speech. And why should it? After all, it's not like it's a problem anymore - he got the damn hole plugged, didn't he? No need to remind the public of the fumbling, ham-handed, ineffective way it was handled, now is there?
All in all, this attempt at centrism and triangulation was tepid. He and his speech writers were in uncharted territory, and it showed. In the grand scheme of things, this isn't the worst SOTU - but it sure as heck wasn't the best, either.
Oh, and I hope "Winning the Future" isn't the new Obama 2012 campaign slogan, because someone else has already claimed it.