This is our initial reaction to President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union speech to Congress, and the Republican response by Senator Marco Rubio – The Secular Jurist:
What President Obama laid out before the America people last night was essentially a vision of where he would like to take the country. As is typical of his speeches, it was a message of hope and progress that should appeal to the majority of Americans. He covered a wide range of issues including policies focused on the middle class, redressing economic unfairness in the nation’s budget and tax code, comprehensive immigration reform, gun control, voting rights, healthcare savings, a new education proposal, climate change, and America’s activities in the war on terror. The President also directed rhetorical admonitions to Congressional Republicans for acting irresponsibly on the debt ceiling issue, and for willfully obstructing common sense legislation and the will of the people. The speech was generally well received, and there were some moments of high applause particularly on gun control and immigration.
However, this vision President Obama presented to the nation was noticeably lacking in substance. There were few specifics on how to achieve his goals. It seemed he was unintentionally admitting there would be little chance to achieve them. Additionally, his speech ignored the serious threat of uncontrolled campaign spending to democracy, did not mention extremist measures in the states to restrict abortion and rig the electoral college, and only flippantly acknowledged growing concerns over privacy and due-process infringements.
If President Obama’s speech was pie-in-the-sky, Senator Rubio’s speech was downright delusional and bizarre. First of all, it was odd the GOP chose the young Tea Party darling from Florida to deliver their official response considering the Republican establishment is actively trying to reassert control over the party. Rubio’s worn out anti-government memes were factually inaccurate, self-contradictory, and flew in the face of reasoned efforts to moderate the GOP message. Secondly, it was quite obvious the Senator was nervous. He had difficulty enunciating due to a dry mouth which he awkwardly tried to remedy with a drink from a water bottle.
We will not comment on the subsequent Tea Party response by Senator Rand Paul.
Obama’s incredibly ambitious second-term agenda
No, Marco Rubio, government did not cause the housing crisis
I almost forgot how much I dislike this speech. I know political theater is probably important, but it just bores me to death.
Obama almost always lacks specifics on how to accomplish his goals. He is great at espousing the goals in a manner that resonates with the public. He is a very good orator and is able to move the audience. But his speeches are vacuous. He doesn’t offer plans to accomplish his goals, he doesn’t offer guidance or even direction. He just puts forth the goals as though the solution were self-evident to everybody.
Though to be fair that is my complaint about nearly every politician. I mean just think about Romney and the tax loopholes he wanted to close. What which ones? Oh yeah he never said.
Does the politician compromise the office, or does the office compromise the politician? I suspect certain personality types are attracted to politics, and they may be more predisposed towards evasiveness, deception, and dishonesty. I wonder if anyone has studied this. Regardless, our current state of politics is dominated by special interests, lobbyists, deal-making, and vast sums of money. That environment must be terribly corrupting.
I agree certain types of people are attracted to politics. Consider what it costs to go into politics, the press watches you and tries to dig up dirt for a good story. You have spend inordinate amount of time campaigning to keep your job every couple of years. You have little job security because you need reelected regularly.
Now it is true they get a good salary and benefits but that doesn’t outweigh the negatives. Rather they are benefiting in other ways. Some it might be the power, some it might be kickbacks from lobbyists, some it might be the emotional affirmation from supporters. Regardless they must be deriving something extra out of it for the job to be worth the cost.
I think overall the environment promotes those that are dodgy. That is because if all of your speeches are vacuous then nobody can pin you down to something. Whereas if you offer specifics people can criticize. The more you stick to the script the less likely you are to say something that will hurt you. Also as political realities change your loyalties may be forced to change which could require adopting new positions on issues. That could be a problem if you were honest about your previous positions but can be managed better if you were evasive about them. Finally in order to get anything done in Congress you have to go long with the powers that be. So if they say you need to be for x and against y then that is what you will do in order to accomplish what you want to accomplish. If you don’t play ball then they will ensure that nothing you propose or want will come to fruition.