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IAFC All-Stars Break Down the 2011 State of the Union

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's a Free Country, we bring you the unmissable quotes from the morning's political conversations on WNYC. Today on The Brian Lehrer Show, It's A Free Country bloggers Jami Floyd, Karol Markowicz, Justin Krebs, and Solomon Kleinsmith joined our listeners in reacting to last night's State of the Union address.

It's a Free Country bloggers and Brian Lehrer Show callers alike took Obama to task for the things he didn't say in his State of the Union address. While the general reception was positive, sticking points included the president's somewhat ambiguous use of the word "investment" and unanswered questions about the national debt. For deeper analysis, be sure to read all of our bloggers' takes on the speech in the linked articles below, give the speech a grade in our thoroughly unscientific poll, and leave your comments at the bottom if you've got something to say!


On Tone

Instead of reaching for the hearts and minds of America...and reminding America, look, we offered you change, given you hope, the economy is improving, here are examples how and why, and we are responsible, our policies have brought you to this point, stick with the plan. Instead, he reached to the chamber and Congress for compromise...as a result, even though he's a great orator, the speech fell flat.

—Jami Floyd. Read more»»

He did a great job giving a mixed message to an audience of bipartisan seating. I'm really curious as Senators and Congress go back to their sides of the aisle whether he continues to drive down the middle, or whether there's one half he starts speaking to more.

—Justin Krebs. Read more»»

I loved the patriotic parts. I think he sounded a lot like Reagan in 1984, but unfortunately for him and all of us, it's 1980. His speech didn't hit the right notes for a time of financial crisis. So while it'd be great to move forward and build these amazing things and win the future, the fact is we're still at an extremely high unemployment rate, and his ideas in the speech last night, I didn't feel they added anything to lowering that.

—Karol Markowicz. Read more»»

I'm a pretty conservative Republican, and I thought he did very well. I think for the first time he looked comfortable being the President of the United States. I think he moved a little to the right, and the salmon part just had me laughing.

—Brian, calling from Glen Cove

On "Investment"

We're in a recession despite the fact that Obama thinks he beat it back. We don't have the money for this sort of thing. He should look to Chris Christie and the way that he's plainly stating, "We don't have the money. It'd be great if we did, we just don't."

—Karol Markowicz. Read more»»

I'm a college teacher and while I usually don't give my own opinions on politics in class, a student asked me in class on Monday how we should grade the State of the Union address, what to look for, and I said, "See how many times he said the word 'investment.'" It's a code word for tax and spend. The more he uses it, the more he'll show he doesn't understand the mess he got us into...It turns out Obama used the word "investment" 13 times, and 11 times before he even used the word "debt," which is the problem he brought upon our people...That gives him a solid F.

—Jack, calling from Staten Island

The total, I was thrilled. He touched on many things I'd looked forward to hearing, but as usual, he is not reaching the general public that depends on Fox for their information. He didn't explain investment. He could have explained it in terms of the average family's long-term planning, why it's better to buy a house than rent all your life, why it's better to get more education, why small businesses and farmers need to invest to survive.

—Marsha, calling from Poughkeepsie

I gave him an A-. I think he did great job, I think he was presidential, and I've been watching these things for a pretty long time. This is a tough time for the country and we need someone to pull it all together. One of my reactions is that he's doing this in a time where important topics are painted in pure black and white, such as the notion that there's no such thing as government investment, which is purely wrong.

—Hugh, calling from New Rochelle

On What Was Missing

I think he got a little bogged down in the Sputnik analogy. Yes, President Eisenhower declared Sputnik a crisis in 1957, but I think what Obama needed to do was reach for that Kennedy moment in Houston in 1962, that transcendental moment where he said, "race to the moon," and we did. This is the beginning of the 2012 campaign, and I think we need more soaring rhetoric.

—Jami Floyd. Read more»»

I don't think a lot of people are going to understand some of the aspects of this speech, but you can't touch on so many things and get into all the details, so I'm not going to knock him for that. I would like it if he tried to put together some sort of guiding metaphor that would explain most things to people...It'd be nice if he did that, but it still doesn't explain how he's going to pay for these things. He can't in one sentence say we need to live within our means, then say we need to borrow $100 billion dollars to do these things.

—Solomon Kleinsmith

The fact that he talked about public transportation in a national agenda is something you don't often hear from our elected officials. The discussion of information infrastructure, all of that is exciting. But there was no discussion of the foreclosure crisis, no discussion of how to hold the corrupt actors on Wall Street accountable for the financial crisis, no discussion of gun control...Maybe we can't get everything on our laundry list in, but it did feel like there were a couple places he chose very carefully not to dig in on a more divisive issue, to find a more central path.

—Justin Krebs. Read more»»

I give him a B+. I'm 45, I've been listening to politics since I was 16, and they all say the same thing about high speed trains, investing, and it never really comes to fruition. (Rep. Paul) Ryan came on afterward and spoke about liberty, and it seems to me that Republicans are really referring to economic liberty. Whenever they're in power, you get things like Terry Schiavo and these things that appeal to the far right in terms of, as far as I see it, taking away liberty: draconian drug laws, not repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Those are anti-liberty, and I would have liked to hear the president address his idea of liberty versus the other idea of liberty.

—Frank, calling from West Babylon

He gave a good speech, and I'm a conservative. He tried to reach out and tell the country what his vision was, but the reality is no matter what he does or the Republican Congress does, it's not going to really affect our future. What's really going to affect our future is that we're going to be facing a bond crisis within the next five years. That will bring everyone to the table, and at that point the cuts in Medicare, Social Security, and entitlements will have to take place. We will not be able to raise the funds. It's coming. They're just working around the edges, not solving the problem.

—Frank, calling from Chester

There was nothing until the very end of his speech, other than being competitive, there was nothing about foreign relations...I found the speech a little too flag-waving, a little too "we're the greatest." I would like to see us recognize that there's a rest of the world out there and I'm not just talking about the wars...There was nothing about foreign policy other than the wars and terrorism.

—Susan, calling from Manhattan

The Final Grade?

One caller gave him an A, another gave him an F, and I imagine those are the grades they would have given even before the speech. You wonder how much a single speech on a single night can sway the voter.

—Jami Floyd. Read more»»

How did you feel about President Obama's speech? Tell us in the comments section.

 

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Comments [67]

Matthias from Harlem

I appreciated President Obama's emphasis on the need to invest in our future. I am very concerned about our debt (which for some reason, Republicans are suddenly concerned about, and only when it relates to Democratic initiatives) and I'm convinced that if the Republicans have their way, the entire country will be crumbling (except for whatever large corporations are able to create for themselves) by the time I'm 40.

To make Karol Markowicz's analogy a bit more fitting, if your roof is going to cave in and destroy your house and everything in it, you will find a way to replace it.

Jan. 26 2011 10:00 PM
Nick from ThunderSnow Captial of the World: NJ

@Amy: He spoke alot about renewable energy which is a type of "green job." Remember the story about the guys who reinvented their shop to make solar panels.

My Fav Part of the SOTU: I especially liked when he said he wanted to stop tax breaks and loopholes for the oil industry. Boehner did not look particularly interested in that statement.

To Everyone Commenting: I agree with those that think he makes his SOTU understandable at a 5th grade level, which makes it seem disingenuous and boring, but he has to, Campaign 2012 has officially opened and swing voters are listening, so his speech will get very very very simple now. Undecided voters are so cute!!!

Jan. 26 2011 08:44 PM
Eugenia Renskoff from Brooklyn

Hi, Brian, He was fine, but what he said will not change the situation I am experiencing following mortgage fraud, predatory lending, foreclosure a nd unemployment. Eugenia Renskoff

Jan. 26 2011 04:51 PM
anonyme

Frank
Our country is not a car dealership!

Jan. 26 2011 04:35 PM
anonyme

I don't think he was wimpy or failing to lead - I thought he was CIVIL - remember Gabrielle Giffords?

Also does this woman who says Obama sounded like Reagan in 1984 when it's 1980 know nothing about Roosevelt?

Re Soviet immigrant who wants to make no room for college students from other countries who want to stay here - it's called a brain drain - can I refer you to Queen Elizabeth I?

Jan. 26 2011 04:33 PM
anonyme

Jack from Staten Island: Where does all this hostility come from? Are you destitute? I thought this was a pep talk we needed, a reminder that even though we are mired in a mess HE DID NOT MAKE - made by lax Bush and Reagan era deregulation and greedy gambling frat boys playing with our economy with impunity - even though we are mired we have resources and creativity - those you cannot argue with. Our creativity needs to be supported. The president needs to be supported in crisis. What if we never had an investment like NASA? Were you alive at that time? Hae you ever lived anywhere but the USA?

Jan. 26 2011 04:19 PM
anonyme

This setup is really annoying for listening after the show - you go to read the commentary as instructed and poof no audio and none available on the new page with commentary (IAFC)
Sputnik was launched on my birthday!

Jan. 26 2011 01:37 PM

This was a dumbed down speech for dumbed down times. Mostly I think he was trying to reach out and speak to a bi-partisan center that will appeal to independents. But he also had to be simple (or simplistic) in his expression of ideas because that's what our discourse has become. It will not solve our problems but with the small government tea party ideology ascendent he's limited in what he can say. I'm sure it's not the Presidency he thought he'd have -- but then it probably never is.

Jan. 26 2011 01:17 PM
CandyMan from Brooklyn

The president has a very fine line to navigate. Government spending vs. subsidizing corporations to spend. In the end the taxpayer makes the investment. Those who favor a stronger central government tend to be against corporate welfare, while those that favor subsidizing investments by corporations want government to step aside. In the end, what is the real difference?

Jan. 26 2011 12:15 PM
Ed from Larchmont

One of the main planks of President Obama's administration is pro-choice legislation and regulation. 300-400,000 people marched in Washington on the 24th, but he didn't mention it. Not good.

Jan. 26 2011 11:55 AM
HEJNYC from Corona, Queens NY

I think that Pres. Obama was attempting to show the legitimacy of active Federal Government.For the "small government" and/or " strict literal interpretation of the Constitution" folks missed some big stuff. First, in 1803 Thomas Jefferson, our third president, bought the Louisiana Territory from France and financed with debt via bonds. This violated both his principals of small government and strict interpretation of the Constitution. From the entire development between the Allegany Mountains to Rocky Mountains was a massive government program. Secondly, the Federal Government many often pick "winners" it more often creates them from some seeds. Some examples are aviation; nuclear everything (like,power, medicine). The Space Program's quest for "the most function at the least weight" directly gave us our entire present electronic age, then indirectly many, many other things.

Jan. 26 2011 11:55 AM
Brian from Forest Hills

I thought Rep. Ryan’s response was disingenuous when it came to his remark that the deficit was so bad that this year we are being asked to raise the debt ceiling. He made it sound as if it was the first time. Congress has raised the debt limit at least five times since Rep. Paul Ryan entered the House. And Ryan voted to raise the debt ceiling at least once and voted several times on budgets that created the deficit that created the debt under a Republican president (Bush).

Jan. 26 2011 11:26 AM
amalgam from Manhattan by day, NJ by night

matt from bklyn -

Well said; I didn't see your post until now and completely agree and reiterate:

The U.S. economy IS NOT similar to

a household or

a business

but is sui generis as the history's most powerful, complicated economy contained within a sovereign nation, and as such cannot aptly be compared to anything else.

Jan. 26 2011 11:26 AM
Amy from Manhattan

To answer my own q., he did say the US should invest in the energy sources of the future (but included "clean" coal!). I'd rather have heard it put in terms of environmental rather than/as well as energy policy, though.

Jan. 26 2011 11:15 AM
amalgam from Manhattan by day, NJ by night

The United States IS NOT a business; it is a sovereign nation with the the biggest economoy, highest productivity, and strongest and most developed powers of monetary policy ever. Again; the United States IS NOT a business and any comparison as such is faulty and unworkable.

We MUST invest in the necessities when those necessities are literally deteriorating and caving in on itself.

Simultaneously, we must revise our spending (in some places cuts are long overdue), look at long term social contract investments (SS), and especially, slow the cost of healthcare.

What I liked most about Obama's SOTU was the way he addressed the reality of globalization, the biggest structural change the U.S. and world face and the least acknowledged.

When will politicians, the media (hey, WNYC), the general public wake up and start to discuss and work what America must do to restructure its economy in the information and network age.

Granted, you've had Stiglitz on, but please get some some of the leading globalization experts (with differing views) like Saskia Sassen (Columbia), Manuel Castells (USC), Ulrich Beck (globalized "risk society"; Munich University), Anthony Giddens, etc.

Jan. 26 2011 11:13 AM
Konstancja

I was glad that the President gave a shoutout to international students like me, who receive their expensive and hard-won degrees and are asked to leave immediately after. I am getting my MA degree this month. For the past two and a half years, I have been a revenue line for this economy rather than a burden. I have spent close to $100,000.00 living and studying in New York. I would be glad to contribute my expertise here, having gotten a degree equal to those that my American peers got. Yet, I will be denied that opportunity. Whose loss it ultimately is?

Jan. 26 2011 11:13 AM
Natalie from Brooklyn

As a liberal Democrat, I gave him a C. The speech, though too long, was better than I expected; but the fact remains that it's a case of "too little too late." Although I appreciated the "friendlier" seating scheme, there is no way that Republicans will vote the dollars to accomplish Pres. Obama's "investments." His chance of success was lost in the first year of his administration when he selected his conservative advisers; let the banks off the hook, and failed to appropriate the necessary dollars to pay for last night's vital goals in infrastructure and innovation.

Jan. 26 2011 11:12 AM
Edward from NJ

James is right. Lox isn't smoked; it's brined. However, most of the time, these days, what's served as "lox" in restaurants is actually nova -- which is brined and smoked.

Jan. 26 2011 11:07 AM
Albert Jaramillo from NYC

Why is Brian L focusing on what was missing from the speech. Firstly, it is a "State of the Union" speech - Not a state of the World Speech,
Also, what a bunch of whining comments which was part of the "leading questions" that Brian qwas asking - he asked most respondents what they felt was missing - clearly that was his focus and his way of passing time.
Also, I found it interesting that when he asked the Republican Strategist questions she just repeated the party line that "there is not enough money" - Republicans have turned into the party of can't, won't, should not and it is sad that they - the so-called party of business - can't tell the difference between spending and investment.

Jan. 26 2011 11:03 AM
Jim from Yonkers

On the whole, I liked the speech. Obama gave us a direction for the future and set down the parameters of what he would and wouldn't do. These are somber times so the speech shouldn't be grandiose but at the same time uplifiting, and this is what he gave. The problem will be the reality as I do not see the Republicans compromising with him and the Democrats.

Jan. 26 2011 11:02 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Buy a home is spending, not an investment anymore. It used to be an investment when it was FALSELY assumed that home values would always go up! And that seemed to be the case after WWII, as the population boomed, and as the government gave tax write offs and mortgage subsidies to get people out of cramped apartments and to spur construction out in suburbia, fuelled by cheap oil prices then.

And investment USED to be when you started a little business, that in time you hoped would support you and your family as it grew. Then it became investing in a college degree which you assumed would always get you into a higher earning profession.

The fact is, spending is whatever you get or by that does NOT give an eventual return and profit.
Investment is whatever you buy or get that does. You only really know the difference much later on. If you bought a Mickey Mouse watch in the 1950s, and kept it, you made a good investment :) Or maybe a comic book or work or art now rare and in demand. Otherwise, you just spent on something that you would eventually throw out, and nothing more.

So you can only know if it was a good investment, or just wasteful spending long after the fact!

Jan. 26 2011 10:59 AM
Tim McCorry from Belmar, NJ

I wish an American President would say: "the days in which America picks up 50% of the tab for global military spending are over."
(our 2 to 3 billion per day is approx. 50% of all military spending)

Jan. 26 2011 10:58 AM
James

Brian, lox is not smoked! Do you live in NY?

Jan. 26 2011 10:57 AM
sinefile from Bronx

how dare Obama ask people to become teachers, that their country "needs them" yet make no mention of appropriate compensation for them? this is a capitalist country, is it not, where people are rewarded for their labors with MONEY, not cheap platitudes. total B.S.

Jan. 26 2011 10:57 AM
Robert from NYC

Just listening to these clips proves to me that I didn't miss anything I would have cared about by not watching/listening to the SOTU and in fact, now I'm sorry I listened to this segment! I could have past the time more profitably by sitting here in silence staring at my wall.

Jan. 26 2011 10:56 AM

I love what dboy says about "if the roof caves in, what good is the house anyway?" As an apartment dweller, I say "If you can't afford to maintain your house, move into a small apartment and invest in something that will improve your income until you can afford a house" --- or --- "stay in your apartment and spend the extra money you save on other things that you need or want." Living in a small apartment enables us to "invest" in our son's extra curricular activities to enrich his public school experience. Which by the way happens to be a very good, non charter, normal public school with excellent math and science teachers.

Jan. 26 2011 10:55 AM
matt from bklyn

The US is not a household; it's the world's largest and most complicated economy.

So, the analogy is pretty awful.

The US is also not a business; it's the world's largest and most complicated economy.

So, that analogy is pretty awful.

What is the proper way to understand US finances? Well, in terms of the largest and most complicated economy. And, that requires understanding that is a bit more subtle than what is at work when balancing a checkbook.

Jan. 26 2011 10:53 AM
Blink

He didnt say how he is on the side of the Egyptian dictatorship and the Israeli occupation oppressing people who only desire is to be free human beings. I couldn't watch this oppressor.

Jan. 26 2011 10:51 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

In 1421, China was the greatest, wealthiest, most powerful nation on earth, by far. The emperor sent out a massive fleet of huge ships to explore the known world, and some claim that it may even have reached what later became called the "Americas." The fleet missed Europe, because Europe was a tiny continent far north of Africa, and the winds were not blowing in that direction, so the Chinese simply missed it. When the fleet returned, a number of terrible things happened in China, and the new emperor decided to turn inwards. The Chinese saw nothing of value outside their domain, and decided to close the country off from outsiders. And so, just as one European, Christoper Columbus was about to find a New World and start a new history of the world, the Chinese decided they didn't need the outside world, and that they had it all, and closed themselves off. That's how China eventually missed the industrial revolution, got poor, as Europe and then American and then Japan arose around it. I hope we learn something from China's ancient history and not repeat its old mistakes from which it has only recently been recovering from.

Jan. 26 2011 10:50 AM
The Truth from Becky

To the caller Marsha: Those are the things your parents should teach you! Why you should purchase a home instead of being a renter your whole life, you think the President of these United States should explain that???

PUhleese gimme a break and find something else to nitpick about!

Jan. 26 2011 10:49 AM

Obama said we should "ask" millionaires to give up the whopping tax cuts that Bush initiated and Obama just extended in Dec. Lead Obama, lead, dammit! See the commentator above who states he's right-of-center and thought the speech was great - yeah, because it was a right-of-center speech because he's a right-of-center president. But no matter how far he bends over to appease the right it's never far right enough. Obama is behaving as if bi-partisanship is the most pressing problem facing our country. Why not tell the republicans to quit their bellyaching especially when he's giving them pretty much everything they want?

Jan. 26 2011 10:49 AM
bernie from bklyn

where were justices thomas and scalia last night?
there is a new low in our existence. these 2 judges do not belong on the supreme court of this country and their behavior needs to be called into question.

Jan. 26 2011 10:48 AM
ML from New Jersey

I wish the government would focus on the non-value add aspects of the Health Care industry. The health insurance companies act as barriers to proper medical care creating huge infrastructure expenses across the industry fighting for payment to providers while generating huge profits and salaries for themselves. Streamlining the infrastructure through a government payer system with a single payment schedule and allowing private insurers to offer upgrades would create huge savings, better overall medical care while still delivering the quality that we expect

Jan. 26 2011 10:48 AM
Helen from Wash Heights

I thoroughly disagree with the idea that allowing US-educated foreign students to stay in the US will "take jobs from Americans." This is such a lame phrase now, even South Park has an episode making fun of it. In fact, most foreign students, especially graduate students, fill sectors that few Americans, for what ever reason, want to go into, especially in the high tech areas. I personally know many foreign students who would love to stay in the US and do a high tech start up, but can't because of their immigration status. We could be chasing away the next Sergey Brin (google founder for those who don't know).

Jan. 26 2011 10:47 AM
Brian from Forest Hills

@Jack Jackson: in all fairness Jack said he was a "teacher" in college. I have taught in college for over 20 years and have never heard a collegue say that s/he was a "teacher" (I am a part-time "Instructor"). Makes me wonder if he actually teaches in college, especially considering what he said.

Student loans=investment
Public education=investment
Research grants=investment
Infrastructure=investment
Good teachers=investment
Unemployment benefits=investment
Tax breaks=investment

Jan. 26 2011 10:45 AM
Andrea from Philadelphia

How do you create jobs without spending money?
The money spent on infrastructure projects doesn't just vanish--it will create new jobs and those salaries will flow back into the economy.

Jan. 26 2011 10:45 AM
RLewis from the bowery

Yes, I feel bad for Karol, too. She's just not up to the job. Maybe one day; but not yet. There are many other Righties who could do much better. Unfortunate.

Jan. 26 2011 10:45 AM
Michael M Thomas from Brooklyn

As a character in a novel I'm writing observes, "The great thing about the blogosphere is that it gives people with nothing to say the means to say it."

Jan. 26 2011 10:44 AM
thcatt

will you please remind some of your callers, like that so called teacher a while ago (I wished you'd asked him where he tought) that "this mess we're in" started long before Pres. Obama was even elected!
perhaps you should have a political psychologist on to answer why a prerequisite to being a repub is a god-awful memory.

Jan. 26 2011 10:43 AM
Leah from Brooklyn

I do not understand Karol Markowicz's presence on this program, or her voice in the discourse in general. She seems amateur and knee-jerk in her positions and is, frankly, an ineloquent guest. Certainly there are other conservative voices that are better qualified to defend right and right-of-center viewpoints.

Jan. 26 2011 10:39 AM
dboy from nyc

Karol™!!! If the roof caves-in, what good is the house to anyone???!!

PLEASE get a clue!

Jan. 26 2011 10:39 AM
KC

We liberals don't have people as smart as Frank Luntz to sell America on the difference between 'investment' and 'spending'. If that's the heart of our differences with Republicans, and that's the only field we play on, then we've already lost, and deserve to.

Jan. 26 2011 10:39 AM
Steve S. from Washington Heights

This argument about investment, whether we can afford it or not, is somewhat pathetic. China is going to link all its cities by high speed rail. They build an amount of infrastructure every year equivalent to the city of Houston. And we can't even build a tunnel under the Hudson! If we truly can't afford these things, and we don't have the confidence and imagination to come up with ways to do it--and the phrase "move forward" is empty if we don't--we are going to decline and pass into other countries' shadows. Naive optimism and feckless jingoism will do nothing to stop it.

Jan. 26 2011 10:38 AM
The Truth from Becky

Not sure I heard him "encouraging" illegal immigration....maybe that was just my tv!

Jan. 26 2011 10:38 AM
The Truth from Debra

Of course I give him and A! I especially like how they shook it up with the seating, this way one side of the room was not standing and clapping when the other was not, like last time. Hah!

Jan. 26 2011 10:35 AM
Mark from Irvington NY

So, the 2012 race has begun. Agree with others speech too long, 30-40 min max woudl be better: terser = stronger. Obama repositioning to center, fact of life. Tried to be inspirational, seemed a bit forced maybe even flat, though correct on basic points. Govt must-and it's appropriate for it to-drive long range science, education, infrastructure investment. Rep Ryan's Republican response? Predictable-dramatically cut spending near-term, extend the already extensive grief. Rep Bachmann? Overall so delusional, such uninformed, and such a liar that she is clearly unfit for public office.

Jan. 26 2011 10:35 AM
Hugh McGuire from NYC

What is the State of the Union? We spend gobs of money on two wasteful, stupid and unwinnable wars, but that is not mentioned. Through tax reductions for the wealthy, we have transferred huge amounts of wealth to the top one percent of income earners who use the money to invest in the global marketplace. We are willing to sacrifice the middle and working class hopes for a prosperous economic and well educated future while we cater to the interets of globalized corporations, and well educated immigrants. Obama's address announced to the American people that their interests don't count. That working and middle class people are being eliminated from the body politic, and the interests of the poor have already been discarded. So, what connection does Obama have to the needs of the people of this country, and why should he care?

Jan. 26 2011 10:34 AM
Brian from Greepoint

To the angry investment-obsessed caller, didn't Bush "spend" and increase our deficit more than any president in history? Presidents rotate in and out of office, but the deficit is inherited.

People who obsess about these kinds of issues are instrumentalists who fail to see anything beyond the bottom-line. FDR and JFK are rolling over in their graves right now.

Jan. 26 2011 10:33 AM
bill from long island

Kennedy's 'sputnik moment' came with a clear goal... go to the moon... President Obama's sputnik came with no concrete goal... If he said something like 'by 2020 we will harness the sun (national solar engery) or build a transcontinental light rail system... or go to Mars... it would have been more memorable... than the laundry list od little things that followed.. give us something solid to aim at.. a REAL goal...

Jan. 26 2011 10:31 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

NASA was an "investment" that brought us to the moon, and spun off many industries, including the microprocessors and the computer industry. DARPA is an "investment" that brought us the Internet and put us on top in INternet-related industries.
Hoover Dam was an investment too. The interstate highway system was an investment.

But before WWII we FAILED to invest in rocketry, which enabled the Germans to get the lead, and only later we had to relearn from German scientists (who originally learned from an American, Goddard) on how to build rockets, as one example, to beat the USSR to the moon.

There has to be a measured and reasonable amount of government investment, because private industry only looks at short term gains, or tries only to conserve industries that are sinking us, like oil, and tobacco, and the like. They want to conserve what is profitable NOW, rather than take the lead for the industries that could restore America's middle class. For those Conservatives, it's quick profits uber alles! And damn the "middle class." As long as they remain rich, what do they need a "middle class" for?

Jan. 26 2011 10:27 AM

i'm a teacher. i liked the speech because the of the emphasis on education, in fact he started with education and made some very good points about how education will save us. education has always a by the way comment from politicians and SOTU speeches. last night it was first and foremost throughout the speech.

education fixes infrastructure, makes for good investment, improves our military, and in the end makes for a better union. as we look at the rest of the world, it always comes down to education.

now if we don't address education all the rest is moot. education first always.

we are the nation builders, we educate the nation builders.

cheers,
ted

Jan. 26 2011 10:27 AM
Joel Silbert from Irvington, New York, United States

I loved the President's emphasis on infrastructure, energy and education. Investment is the proper term for what he has proposed. Obviously, though, these critical—and I use the word advisedly—initiatives will get nowhere unless jobs rebound.

I watched the State of the Union Address with Westchester for Change in White Plains: the first political meeting of any kind I've attended in 40 years. Aside from a desultory 10 or 20 bucks tossed into the pot over the years I have not been engaged in any substantive political activity. Having heard the President's message last night I'm ready to pitch in.

Jan. 26 2011 10:27 AM
Jack Jackson from Central New Jersey

Professor of what?? Driver's Ed? Clearly he does not teach economics. The continued deficit spending - which was actually a reduction from the last Bush budget year - was all the fault of the laissez-faire induced recession AND kept the unemployment rate from topping 14%. Our prof blaming the spending levels on Obama is just another attempt to revise history and displays real ignorance of Keynesian economic theory.

Jan. 26 2011 10:25 AM
bernie from bklyn

@david from hempstead-
c'mon, give me a break- that's what you have to say? do you think statesmen in russia pronounce the word 'Apollo' perfectly without a russian inflection?

Jan. 26 2011 10:22 AM
RLewis from bowery

Jack, dude, you are one angry caller. wow, chill. "Investment" sounds like the new "n" word to you. Remember when nyc mayors before Koch made no Investment in our bridges, and Dinkins spent his enitre budget, and job, trying to keep cars from falling into our rivers? At some point, we have to invest in something. I feel sorry for your students.

Jan. 26 2011 10:22 AM
Amy from Manhattan

It's possible I missed it--I did get distracted a few times--but did President Obama mention the environment at all? Even "green jobs"?

Jan. 26 2011 10:21 AM
MikeInBrklyn from Clinton Hill

Either make these SOTU speeches shorter (no more than 30 minutes) or get rid of it. So often, very little new is said in the SOTU, and the end result is theater and cheer leading. Did Obama really need to use 1hr15min+ to tell us a lot of what we already know? Why can't a SOTU simply present the facts (good or bad) and outline next step for the coming years?

Likewise, the Republican response is nonsense since what will be said is essentially predictable.

Jan. 26 2011 10:20 AM
Joe B from Brooklyn

I think Obama blew it. He should have shortened the speech and used it to focus almost solely on the future and our nation's competitiveness. At this point in time, this would have been the most powerful message if the goal is bringing Americans together.

Jan. 26 2011 10:20 AM
Manny from NYC

The caller has so much anger.. how many times did Dubya say 9/11 in his State of the Unions?

Jan. 26 2011 10:20 AM
Jack Jackson from Central New Jersey

The content of the speech was fine for me. The actual call to action was a little weak....A selling of the president's vision on where we go next. Some common agreement on what is broken and the basis of the arguments on how to fix it (no consensus expected here).

Except for the weepy bits, John Boehner seemed either sourpussed or wanting a stiff drink!

Until we decide how to put the middle class back on track, we've got trouble.

Jan. 26 2011 10:20 AM
Henry from Katonah

I guess caller Jack does not have a mortgage on his home !

Jan. 26 2011 10:20 AM
Constantine from Brooklyn

RE: The Republican response

The Democrats may be lacking political wherewithal, but when will we, as an informed public, start supporting them by calling out the majority of Republicans as disingenuous slaves to entrenched interests?

Jan. 26 2011 10:17 AM
David from West Hempstead.

To make a small point:

It's "spoot-neek." Ugh.

Jan. 26 2011 10:13 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Although I consider myself somewhat Right-of-Center politically, I felt that Obama's speech was great, and I give him a solid "A." I think the radical Conservatives are too concerned with conserving the status quo in areas I do not. I do believe that conserving the status quo in our lack of an energy policy, educational policies, tax and other policies is sinking America. I agree with Obama on most of those issues. Where I disagree with the Liberals is on many "social issues" such as abortion, gay marriage, and the like. I believe that the latter policies have helped cause the decline of the American family and thus the need to import more and more immigrants, legal and otherwise, to keep the population numbers up to support an aging, mostly old white population that did not produce adequate numbers of young children. Sure we could import a billion immigrants in short order if we so desired, but what does America become then?

Jan. 26 2011 10:11 AM
Mike from NJ

Someone in the Democratic party needs to challenge Obama in the primaries for 2012. Last night's speech was meaningless nonsense. The President is weak, ineffectual and a fool to think that the Republicans are going to play nice in the sand-box.

Jan. 26 2011 10:06 AM
Fafa from Harlemworld

Seemed that this line - "Before we take money away from our schools or scholarships away from our students, we should ask millionaires to give up their tax break." - got DELAYED, if not MUTED applause from the chamber-full of well-paid/millionaire attendees. Emblematic of the problem with politics for the American working class: Our so-called reps are comfy insiders, out of touch with and ambivalent about our current harsh realities. Their job descriptions need re-defining, with new criteria, requirements and standards...

Jan. 26 2011 10:06 AM
bernie from bklyn

every american should be rich and happy and live near a rainbow with unicorns as pets....blahblahblah.
i'm so sorry to say that mr.obama lost me last year and now everything he says sounds like the ramblings of a man who has no concrete idea how to make his fantasy world come true.
so many words with so little substance. in 2008 i fell for it too, but now we all see he is just like the rest of them. very sad.

Jan. 26 2011 09:29 AM

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