Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Bones

President Obama, as in the tradition of all presidents giving the State of the Union speech, tossed out some bones for the audience and the pundits. Here are a couple that I thought were interesting. Let’s see what happens with them.

Repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. The GOP sees that as a sop to “the liberal base.” Aside from the fact that it is wrong to assume that all of the LGBT community is progressive or liberal, it’s something that a lot of Republicans and conservatives who are not freaked out by Teh Gayz are in favor of, as are a number of senior officers in the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Pentagon.

The Big Freeze. President Obama didn’t elaborate much more on the proposed spending freeze of non-military and non-entitlement items in the budget. So far it’s gone over like a turd in punch bowl among liberal economists like Paul Krugman and historians who reminded us of what happened when FDR did the same thing in 1937. I’m still not sure how this fits in with his push to get people back to work by giving incentives to banks to lend money to small businesses.

– Energy politics. The president said he wants to explore safe nuclear energy, off-shore drilling, and “clean coal” technology. That was clearly a nod to our new corporate masters at Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell, and he squashed any GOP applause by bringing up cap and trade. And I understand there’s been as much progress on creating clean coal as there has been on getting warp drive up and running on the next generation of space shuttles.

Campaign Finance. The president told the Supreme Court that he didn’t like their ruling last week that overturned campaign finance reform, and at least one member of the court, Justice Samuel Alito, apparently mouthed “not true.” Well, four of his colleagues also disagreed with the ruling as did a whole host of senators and congresspeople who are trying to write laws that can keep corporations, even if they’re owned by foreign countries, from taking over the electoral process. (Reader SR at TPM thinks it was a historic moment for the president to tell the Court to their face and in public that he didn’t like the ruling.)

Healthcare. Basically he told the House and Senate that it’s in their court to pass the bill by whatever means possible; he’s done his bit and now it’s up to them. A lot of people in the blogosphere have been wondering where the president’s leadership is on this; why isn’t he pushing Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid to get Plan B done? Simple; it’s always been their bill, not his. He learned the lesson from the Clinton debacle in 1993; the White House wrote the bill and dumped it in the lap of a resentful Congress who clearly thought that it was their job to write it. Well, now they have, and now it’s their problem; the president is moving on. He doesn’t have to stand for election until 2012. (That still doesn’t mean they shouldn’t Pass The Damn Bill.)