Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


So, game on, I guess.

I only saw the last part.  For all his reputation as an orator, he really on lets fly in the last ten minutes of his speeches.  It's really more his skill as a writer that he leans on, so you might as well read most of the speech.

On the one hand, I'm increasingly tired of theater.  I'm tired of the security theater when we get on airplanes.  And I'm really tired of the political theater that passes for our electoral system.  I'm tired of the sort of political theater that led to a near default on our government's debt.

So moments like the SotU don't exactly jingle my bells.

But this was less about the state of the union and a realistic legislative agenda than it was about laying out a different vision of America from the cramped, jingoistic, mean spirited one we saw last night in Tampa.  I'm sure the Manic Progressives will say he's being naive to expect any of this legislation to pass.  It really isn't about that.  Maybe he helps shape the public debate a little bit, but really this was about explaining a different philosophy for governing, indeed a different vision of America.

I think it succeeded on that score, but I also despair that it will matter.  Come Thursday, Newt and Mitt will just go back to lying through their teeth about how Obama "apologizes for America" or "hate Israel" or "killed bin Laden".

Oh, wait, that last part was true.

I thought his final passage was very deft, and it's one that I've thought could resonate for years.  We applaud our military, mostly as convenient props and ciphers for whatever cause we are pimping at that moment.

But the central tenet of the military is "No one gets left behind."  Wes Clark started talking about this theme in 2004, and I wished he had run harder with it.  You fight for the person next to you.

That shouldn't be limited to the military.  That should be the mission for all Americans.  We should all fight for the person next to us.  Adopt THAT standard, and the narrow, pinched vision of Newt and Mittens dissolves into dust.

As it should.

UPDATE: The Guardian was impressed, so was John Cole.  The takeaway seems to be: A) OK, Obama's not perfect, but his direction is good and his intentions are true.  B) He's a President.  Mittens and Newt are not. C) Obama can be realistic and yet optimistic, whereas the entire GOP is about how America is DOOOOOMED!!!! Which is not, I should point out, a winning electoral strategy.

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