“Hadiya’s parents, Nat and Cleo, are in this chamber tonight, along with more than two dozen Americans whose lives have been torn apart by gun violence,” Obama said, referring to the couple, who had sat stoically through the speech. “They deserve a vote.”
The lawmakers turned toward where they sat, paying respect, and Democrats began chant of “vote, vote!”
Obama also singled out former Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was sitting among the First Lady’s guests. “Gabby Giffords deserves a vote,” he thundered. The chant spread.
The broader point is that there really is something approaching a consensus on what to do about our short term fiscal problems. For all the suggestions that the two parties are far from reaching that elusive compromise position that lies in the ideological center, the truth is that Democrats already inhabit the ideological middle ground in this debate — as Scarborough himself defines it. You can argue over whether Dems will support large enough entitlement cuts, but the broad strokes are that Dems are far more in sync with this general consensus position than House Republicans are. The explicit, public position held by Republicans continues to be that we must not avert the sequester with any sort of compromise that includes any GOP concessions in the way of new revenues. By contrast, the Dem position is roughly in line with the mix of concessions by both sides that Scarborough and many other members of the D.C. elite themselves keep insisting is required. What’s mystifying is why they’re often so reluctant to admit this.
Jonathan Weisman/NY Times:
In the wake of their electoral drubbing in November, Republicans were seeking an image reboot at President Obama’s State of the Union address, a new face that would be both more positive and less strident, youthful and multicultural but also quietly constructive and respectful.Did Marco Rubio change the face of the GOP? No, he did not.
Then there was Ted Nugent, the 64-year-old rocker who once told the president to “suck on my machine gun.”
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"Obama gave little ground to his adversaries," said Bill Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
GOP riled - Dems inspired
Galston, a former adviser to Bill Clinton, said Obama "advanced a vision of an activist government" in "a high-stakes gamble" that, if it fails, would leave him with "an unpleasant choice between negotiating with a weakened hand and accepting gridlock."
Obama's overarching message was that other things matter beside the Republicans' seemingly all-consuming drive for deficit cutting, embodied in a looming showdown just three weeks away over automatic across-the-board spending cuts.Ted Widmer:
Of course, any thorough assessment of the evening should include the realization that much of the program unveiled in the address will get stalled in a Congress that remains sullen, when not outright obstructionist, at every step.
But this was an important State of the Union, a declaration of principles as President Obama begins his next term. The 21-month period between now and the midterm elections in 2014 is, history suggests, the period in which he is most likely to cement his legacy. All fifth-year State of the Union speeches are ambitious; but not all are successful. (Recall President George W. Bush’s attempt to privatize Social Security, announced in 2005.)
But this was the time to put the cards on the table, and Mr. Obama did just that. The state of our union might not be strong, but it is becoming more realistic, and by extension, encouraging.