I’ve got to hand it to President Obama. He knows how to give a good speech. The State of the Union was so well done I almost forgot what he was saying and how long it was taking him to say it.
Not long after the speech ended, the Associated Press published a story that compared some of Obama’s statements to the facts. Here’s a sample:
Obama said he was freezing all government spending for three years on everything except national security, Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. Uh…that actually leaves a potential savings of less than 1 percent of the deficit. And let’s be honest, Congress probably isn’t going to approve even that much.
Obama said he would create, by executive order, a bipartisan commission to solve the deficit. “This can’t be one of those Washington gimmicks that lets us pretend we solved a problem, he said. But in fact it will be. A presidential commission will have no authority with Congress. This week, in a rare display of bipartisanship, the Senate rejected a congressional commission that actually would have had some clout.
He railed on lobbyists and said he had banned lobbyists from “policymaking jobs.” That’s not quite true. He’s made seven exceptions to that ban for the hiring of White House officials alone.
Obama said his administration has been better at killing terrorists than the Bush administration. The truth is Bush and Obama both have declined to publish enemy body counts or to make public much about the war on terror, so this one is impossible to verify.
Finally, Obama challenged all in Washington “to do our work openly, and to give our people the government they deserve.” He conveniently seemed to forget that he and fellow Democrats held closed-door hearings on health care legislation. C-SPAN made repeated attempts to get in, but was denied.
All presidents, at least in my memory, play these sorts of games. My overall impression from the speech is that the president showed he could change points of emphasis to react to the voters, but he isn’t going to change his basic agenda. In the long run, I think that’s a losing strategy.
But the president himself was charming and mesmerizing. Only later, if you read his words carefully, do you see how condescending he really was.