UPDATE: We’ll have an open thread up for you hardy souls who actually watch Obama’s SOTU address and, more importantly, Paul Ryan’s GOP response. And I’ve heard that CNN (and Fox?) will carry Michelle Bachman’s Tea Party response. FYI, I am personally opposed since it could detract from Ryan’s official GOP response. If the GOP had selected some wimpy RINO, I could see it. But Ryan has solid conservative credentials and has done the extremely difficult work of crunching budget numbers and genuinely has important things to say. The spotlight should therefore be his alone. The Tea Party is not a party. It’s akin to MoveOn hosting its own response to Obama. It’s just not done.
ORIGINAL: Damn it all! Two f–kin’ judges have mucked up Rahm’s plans to reinvent himself as the mayor of Chicago (and I’m laying odds that Rahm exploded and said, “F–k those friggin’ bastards! Get this to the Supremes this f–kin’ minute!”) … Barack has big plans to reinvent himself, writes John Heilemann for New York Magazine, and must be pretty damn well pleased with the bump in his poll numbers … but Hot Air‘s Dave Weigel says that that Barack’s bounce is transitory …
JUICY TIDBIT 01: Oh Rahm, say it ain’t so! Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy (heh). But the language, Rahm! Anyway, here’s the scoop from New York magazine:
If anyone living within the greater Chicago area heard a single, prolonged expletive reverberating through the air this morning, it probably had something to do with this: An Illinois Appellate Court has kicked Rahm Emanuel off the ballot for mayor because, it decided in a 2–1 ruling, he wasn’t a resident of the city for one year prior to the election. The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners and a Cook County judge had previously found that Emanuel had maintained his Chicago residency even after moving to the nation’s capital for the past two years to serve as President Obama’s chief of staff. The new ruling does not put an end to Emanuel’s lifelong dream of running Chicago, however, as it will be appealed to the state Supreme Court. But it’s still a big setback, and a surprising twist in a race that Emanuel was almost sure to win.
JUICY TIDBIT 02: Here’s what I heard on Morning Joe early this morning. Hey, not much shocks me, but this??? In the first two years of his presidency, the MJoe panel revealed, Barack Obama did not hold a SINGLE meeting with SIX of his cabinet members.
Hearing that shocking fact is why I went to New York magazine in the first place. (The news about Rahm was an additional goodie I spotted there.) The author of the magazine’s lead article, John Heilemann, was on Morning Joe to promote “The West Wing, Season II.”
Here’s Heilemann’s subtitle: “Almost overnight, Barack Obama overhauled his White House and rewrote much of the script. Now all he needs is a happy ending.”
Get this next bit — yes, it’s an aside but I can’t resist sharing. Mika Three-Zs read that subtitle (to herself, not out loud!!!), and inferred that the magazine was making a sexual reference in order to make the article more irresistible to readers. Huh? Hey, I’m just sharing what she said. And then she made a point of refusing to read the subtitle out loud. The rest of the table didn’t know what to say. Neither do I. I do not get Mike Three-Zs and never will.
Now back to the article about Barack Obama’s reinvention. The article begins with a long story about how Barack labored late into the night to revise the speech he gave the next day at the Tucson memorial service. I’ll let you read this, and then I’m going to let off some steam:
Axelrod recalled the last time his boss had taken such personal ownership of a piece of oratory: his speech on race in March 2008. Obama had labored over that one, too, late into the night, and after reading it in the morning, his message guru e-mailed him back, “This is why you should be president.” The Tucson speech inspired in Axelrod a similar reaction.
Huh? The last time he took “such personal ownership” was his March 2008 speech on race? What about, oh, his inaugural address? His first State of the Union speech?
And not just in him [Axelrod]. From the left, right, and center, the verdict was nearly unanimous: Here was a speech that was truly presidential, and that therefore—despite being driven by no crass political motives—became part of a larger political story.
Since the midterm elections, Obama and his lieutenants have been grappling with the implications of the self-described “shellacking” inflicted by Republicans on the president and his party, and laboring to devise a recovery strategy for the next two years. One of their chief conclusions is that Obama must occupy a higher plane than he did in the last two, elevating himself above the posturing, petulance, and incessant bile-spewing that have come to bedevil Washington in this age of incessant acrimony and polarization.
The lame-duck session in December—with the tax-cut compromise with Republicans as its centerpiece—presented Obama with his first opportunity to gain some altitude. The Tucson shootings offered another. And Tuesday night’s State of the Union address will extend him yet another. …
This just fries me. Do none of these people, do none of the journalists who write about this man, ever get what this really says about Obama?
He doesn’t bother to hold a single meeting with SIX cabinet members but he pulls an all-nighter to rewrite a speech? And Axelrod et al. are blown away by his changes, praising his gifts for writing?
Well, sure. It is important to give a well-crafted speech. And it is vital for any politician to lend his own touch to a speech essentially written by his writing staff.
But why does it not occur to Heilemann and other journalists who’ve raved about Obama’s edits of the speech that the time that Obama spent could have — should have — been far better spent figuring out how in the hell to lower the unemployment rate, to fix our nation’s frighteningly outdated infrastructure, to trim the fat from the national budget, and on and on?
You and I get it. Obama is playing the role of the president. Which is why Heilemann’s title of his article — West Wing II — rings so true. Obama and the PR man Axelrod know that all that Obama is capable of is playing a role. After all, what else can Obama do? His entire adult background has been comprised mainly of building his image and writing books about himself. He has no experience in business, in leadership roles, in the day-in-and-day-out hard work of a full-time job.
He is just an actor. In the biggest role of his life. Sadly, for us, we don’t need an actor playing president. We need a REAL president who knows how to craft programs and legislation designed to right our ship of state.
That is why thoughtful people are looking with lonely eyes to the Republicans who do have the experience of leadership in business and government, and who work long hours at heading administrations that require hands-on skills, none of which Obama has.
That’s why the names Mitch Daniels, Paul Ryan, Chris Christie, Hillary Clinton and many others keep getting mentioned so often. Because people who realize what the presidency requires know that it is people with these leaders’ experience and skills who are desperately needed, now more than ever.
Clinton, Daniels, Ryan, Christie and many others walk the walk. Would they stay up all night to rewrite a speech for a memorial service? I don’t know. But I do know that, for the past two years, they would have put in countless late nights on improving our nation’s economy and lowering the devastating unemployment rates. That’s because they know how to work. Work hard. And be smart about it.
Every president requires a learning curve, but these possible candidates will be able to take off running.
Imagine, for a moment, what the last two years would have been like had we had Hillary Clinton as our president? I won’t venture to describe it, but we all know that with her work ethic and her vast knowledge of issues — from health care to the military (yes, read Larry Johnson on Hillary’s knowledge of the military) — she would have shaped a mission for our country that would have had us well on our way to putting the mess that Bush left behind us.
If you’re interested, do read all of Heilemann’s article at nymag.com. It’s eight pages, and I had to scan parts of it, but it’s well-written and compelling material.
JUICY TIDBIT #03: Now for some realistic viewpoints from Hot Air’s “Obama’s bounce is basically meaningless“:
Should we be surprised by this? No. This is what happens when Americans punish a charismatic liberal president and he acts suitably chastened. Bill Clinton’s Democrats were devastated in 1994, and he had a much less productive lame-duck session with which to win back liberal support. Yet a CNN/Time poll released on Jan. 8, 1995 gave Clinton a sizable bounce, from 41 percent job approval to 47 percent; disapproval fell from 49 percent to 44 percent…
It gets worse. There’s not much coordination yet between Obama’s own approval numbers and the performance of Democratic candidates. Obama had positive approval numbers in November 2009, when Democrats lost the governors’ mansions in Virginia and New Jersey. He had positive approval numbers in January 2010, when Scott Brown blazed past the handshake-phobic Martha Coakley. … He had mildly positive approval numbers in the spring of 2010, after health care reform passed, and slipped into the 40s by the midterms, as the economy didn’t recover.
We’re not talking about 2012 yet, though. The unmistakable, grand, break-out-the-Cristal news in all of these polls is that Obama comfortably leads every potential Republican candidate for his job. He only leads them because for the third or fourth time, Americans want to think the economy’s about to turn a corner. …
“Americans want to think …” Well, we shall see just how much wishful thinking will get Americans by the end of this year.