Sunday, January 23, 2011

State of the Union

My prognostications for what the President will say in the SOTU this Tuesday.  Crow will be eaten to the extent I am wrong.

Beginning and main theme follows off of the "can't we all just get along" speech from Tucson.  He will have the heroic intern who saved Rep. Giffords's life sitting with the First Lady.  The point of Rep. Giffords is not that the crazy guy may have shot her because of Sarah or Rush (or Glenn), the point is that she is one of the best examples of a moderate compromiser - a passionate moderate, if you will.  The President will play of this theme - not the blame game.  And our hearts go out to those lost and to Rep. Giffords's continued miraculous recovery!

The thing we can all get along on is his new challenge in the style of Kennedy's "we're going to the moon in this decade" speech (and we did!).  That challenge is a new commitment to education and innovation for JOBS in order to remain competitive in the new global economy.  This is one area where he might get some room to compromise with the new Republican Congress.  Education Reform is one of the few areas the Republicans and the President may be able to work on together and with public support.  The President may have some specific trick up his sleeve in the form of an exciting national goal, but I haven't figured that part out yet.  He needs to win the public and likely will.  Then Congress has to do something to at least appear to go along.  And they lose if they don't actually accomplish something on the goal.

He will also address debt reduction and he has the upper hand in solid proposals from his Debt Commission (with no help from the Republicans in the last Congress), the most positive of which he will promote even if nothing gets done much in this Congress because the Republicans have a very different agenda in what they would like to accomplish in dismantling the federal government.  The President will come out strong on shared sacrifice at the same time he attempts to promote and protect the social safety net of Social Security and Medicare.  He will push Defense Sec. Gates's military cuts (or at least "slowing of the growth").  He will tout his freeze on federal pay having thrown us slightly under the bus in the place of the Republicans wanting much harsher measures in their desire to get rid of as many of us as possible.  This will all eventually stalemate and we'll see what happens down the road with the federal debt limit and the need for a budget or further continuing resolution by March.  There are ways to work this out without destroying Social Security, Medicare, or the government of, by and for the people.  And if we have to, we can do it after 2012.

Some of the Members of Congress will sit together.  Justice Alito will be a no show or at least much more stoic.  No one will yell, "You lie!"  If the Congress does behave and sit together, and they just might in the wake of Tucson, that will be to the credit of the President as it will in part fulfill his campaign of a "change" in the way we do things.  If they don't sit together, and remain nasty, it still works to the President's advantage because people think they ought to get along better.  And the President will remain above it all, as he should.

Buyers' remorse on the Republican Congress is already setting in.  Wait until 2012 with the Dem base coming back along with the youth vote and minorities that sat out 2010 to some extent.  There's no room for the Republicans to grow and they're going to have a tough couple of years working with tea party set and traditionalists in Congress.  The President is in a very good position (and I don't think he tacked to the right as much as most everybody is saying - I read his books!).  I mean, imagine if the Republicans had not taken Congress.  The small but loud group of Americans that absolutely will not accept this President would be even louder.  For now they are quiet because most of their issues and conflicts are with the Republican-controlled House.  The only way the President loses reelection is if the economy tanks further and we face the real threat of some right-wing populist like St. Sarah (shudder) or even the Newt.  Even if the Republicans make it worse hoping for that result to retake control of the Presidency and cut more taxes (!), I still think this President is a smart guy who wants to do right for the country, is willing to compromise to accomplish what he can, and that may just be enough to eke it out if there is further economic or other disaster.  If the economy does pick up well and unemployment drops somewhat, reelection is a cake walk.

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