The Real Obama

This is how politicians who needn’t worry about re-election look: more like themselves.

Comments: 209

  1. "I say: this president seems different. He seems more confident and sure. He seems aware of the animus that greets him, but not cowed by it."

    I agree with you, Charles. President Obama was the embodiment of confidence and purpose last night. I felt resentful that the Republicans robbed us of so much over the last four years, and may yet keep robbing us of more over the next two.

    The President's speech was the first of what I hope will be many teach-ins over the course of the months leading up to the midterm elections. It is vital that he keep making speeches like these to keep in sharp focus the place we all need to get back to: sanity. The picture he painted isn't utopia. It's how life is supposed to be. The more he speaks like this, the crazier and out of touch the other side sounds.

    Both Marco Rubio and Rand Paul gave their speeches after the President. Both sounded like Mad Hatters, trying to convince us that what we know is good and right is really bad for us. Rubio sounded especially disingenuous telling us about his mom and dad benefiting from the way Medicare works, but warning us that if we don't change it (read privatize?) it will all go away. He did the same thing with student loans and then turned right around and said that government doesn't do things for people. So, which is it?

    Voting Rights was my only disappointment. I don't want a commission. I want a big old fight at SCOTUS. Make Justice Roberts do the right thing and pull another rabbit out of his hat.

  2. The only question I have from after the speech ended is... What was it that President Obama told Boehner and then shook his hand twice about? Any lip readers out there?

  3. He probably turned to Boehner and asked, " what did you have for dinner, looks like you're suffering from bad gas " LOL

  4. It was probably about Boehner's last golf score. It seems his life goal has been to improve his golf score. Very doubtful it was anything of substance like VAWA which Boehner still refuses to bring up for a vote.

    Hopefully, that may change soon. Stories are coming out again about Boehner's membership in a Maryland golf club with an initiation fee of $75,000 which bars women from membership to the point of not even allowing them to set foot on the grounds. Years ago, when the Secret Service or the FBI (can't recall which agency it was) had to run a security check for a foreign dignitary, one of the agents in the lead had to remain in the parking lot because she was a woman.

    Hard to believe an elected official isn't held to account for belonging to such a club by the MSM. Even harder to believe he's the one who decides whether the Violence Against Women Act, which just passed in the Senate, gets a vote in the House.

  5. Coming at it from another direction, we could also wonder if this is an "If not now, when?" moment for President Obama, too.

  6. For the last four years with the exception of the ACA and financial reform Progressives and liberals alike were expressing dissatisfaction with President Obama. They claimed he was not living up to his 2008 infered promises of one kind or another. The truth as I have written here in comment many times over this same time frame was that if Obama had acted the way they believed he should he would lose the center hence reducing his chance at re election to a second term. I repeatedly stated once if we can get him re-elected a left hand turn would be made when there was finally nothing left to lose. I must say, I feel totally exonerated today. I am a progressive far left of the great late Ted Kennedy, I stuck with President Obama through thick & thin, I knew this man was not the centrist all clamed he was. Short of me not being a man of color we have much in common in growing up, being somewhat of solitiude in life, not suffering fools, coming from broken families. I knew his heart he was there for the poor, he believes, feed the babies who don't have enough to eat, shoe the children with no shoes upon their feet, house the people living in the street oh yea there's a solution ( Steve Miller). I was positive he wished to raise the standard of living for the poor, &middle class, even the upper middle class. He does not believe in grotesque wealth unless you're given to giving as is his now good friend Warren Buffet who will bequeath the vast amount of his fortune to charity. YES

  7. We have to give credit where it is due... Bill Gates is who talked Warren Buffett into giving away most of his money. Pretty amazing, huh?

    Our work as voters has only just begun. We need to help President Obama cement his legacy by cleaning out the dry rot at the midterms.

  8. Rima and that club is growing Bill Gates & Warren Buffet are prodding other multi billionaires to do the same, as it appears Baron Hilton will do as well. Nothing is finer than billionaires leaving their fortunes to help not just our society but the world. I tell you true the appriciation of Americans working in Africa helping spread medicine and education is overwhelming all with the help of Bill& Melinda Gates, The Clinton Foundation, NYU, Partners in Health and a host of others. I know I speak to my daughter and son in law regularly in Rwanda doin exactly that. The great majority of Africans love Americans and really love we come to help. All this would not be possible with the charity that has been brought forth. Rima always a pleasure, Throw your two cents in anytime, I never have enough characters LOL

  9. I often think of what could be if each of our 420 or so billionaires pledged a quarter of their fortunes to impoverished areas of this country. Not as charity, but investement. Establishment of live- in acadamies staffed by our ex military, a gentler basic training for the workforce to get the teens off the streets and break the cycle. Rehab of buildings with apprenticeship for members of the community. Micro loans for businesses. Volunteer opportunites for retired seniors who have so much left to give. Pre schools. No child in this country should be denied preschool because of lack of money. All those who benefit would be required to contribute a percentage of earnings and skill to perpetuate the ongoing work.

    Not long ago I read of the sale of an $8 million car. At the same time I saw a high school marching band at the Inaugeration who were unable to appear the year before because they were unable to raise the needed money.

  10. I read the state of the union address this morning and noticed that one of the president's goals is to make it easier for people to vote.
    May I suggest mail in ballots? They work well here, and I believe, in some other states. I see only one drawback. To get a mail in ballot you have to have an address, which would make it difficult to vote for people who have lost their homes and are living in their cars.

  11. With mail in ballots, as with internet voting, how do you assure that the votes are not fraudulent or under coercion? With a ballot box, the vote is always private and the voter can always lie to appease those trying to coerce. Where are the voter protections with mail in ballots?

  12. I agree. I miss the drama and excitement of election days at polling places here in Seattle, but mail-in ballots are working very well. Higher turnouts (no lines to wait in, no rushing to/from work, and darn the weather), and the cost of running elections has come down. Concerns with fraud and ballot stuffing are completely without merit; there just hasn't been any credible evidence of either, here or in other locales where vote-by-mail is in effect (in fact, voter fraud, vote buying, and various other issues frequently raised by the GOP in their disingenuous efforts to 'police' voting over the past 3 election cycles are about the same threat level to our democracy as Marxism. A non-issue in the US in 2013, and for decades. Far more harmful to our democracy and electoral process are these self-same zealots of 'ballot integrity,' whose efforts disenfranchise wrongly hundreds of thousands of rightful voters each election. The fewer who vote, the more who are excluded from the process, the less legitimate the whole enterprise becomes, the more apathetic and disconnected from civiv participation and less well informed our nation becomes). Vote By Mail works well, even better than where election days are paid national holidays and/or extend to several days. Oh, but I do miss those lovely old mechanical voting booths!

  13. Another benefit with mail-in balloting is informed, considered voting. You can sit down at your leisure - with the campaign and newspaper round-ups and endorsements and select the candidates for all positions in a reasonable - informed way. When I lived in WA State the WA Secretary of State also provided a voter's handbook which also assisted the voter in making an informed decision. Our problem (especially in NY) is we don't take voting seriously enough - as is evidenced by the lack of information on down ballot candidates. This lack of informed voting only serves the political hacks and entrenched interests which often run counter to good governance.

  14. "They deserve a vote." In the president's prepared text, those four words appeared once but when he gave his speech last night, he repeated them four more times. It was an electrifying moment and it called to mind all the times Congressional Republicans denied a vote on legislation like the American Jobs Act and the Violence Against Women Act. Every unemployed person and every woman "deserve a vote" on those issues, too.

    For the last four years, legislation that is supported by a majority of Americans is denied a vote by Republican obstruction - the abuse of the filibuster in the Senate and Boehner's refusal to bring a bill to the floor ofthe House unless it would pass with just Republican votes.

    "They deserve a vote." It should become the mantra of every Democrat in Congress. We saw the power in those words last night. Democrats were inspired. Republicans were publicly shamed. President Obama gave the Democrats the talking point they need. They should run with it.

  15. Well Senate Majority Reid must not have gotten the memo as he again and after much debate failed for the 4th time to find it in his heart to change rule 22 to end filibusters in the Senate. This allows Senator Reid and the 20 Democrats up for reelection in 2014 to continue to hide behind the Republicans when they really don't want to vote on something that might be unpopular in their states.

    More "Change you Can Believe in!".

  16. We get the government we deserve. If we want better, we need to be better. That means not expecting things to just happen after an election, it means wiring letters, calling or better yet visiting the offices of your representatives. And do not forget your state representatives. Most gun laws are enacted by the states - like conceal carry laws that allow guns on campus, in churches, in bars....I cannot even believe I am writing this in 2013.

  17. You said it, Mary. I've watched that portion of the speech several times. Seldom do you get to be moved by great oratory anymore. I was thrilled.

  18. This President was different indeed. Not quite like in 2008, burdened with history.

    He was no match for 'thirsty' Rubio or 'why ' Rand Paul. Letterman tonight had a funny take on Rubio. reaching out for a sip of water. Letterman had a liquor bottle handy.

  19. Without filibuster reform, which Harry Reid refused to push, nothing Obama proposed is likely to come about.

    And without a change to money in politics, it is very likely the Republicans will allow corporations and the bankers to crash the economy again, so that no matter what Obama talks about, the US economy will continue to remain very unstable.

  20. Still waiting for "the real Obama"? It's wonderful how the great man that people so desperately want Obama to be is always just appearing on the horizon, finally there.

  21. I too like the new Obama and he should keep pressing the Republicans by name and split them totally.

    The radical right needs to explain how we can have massive poverty and unmet need for goods and services while at the same time we have huge unemployment and underemployment. They also need to explain why there is a great and increasing concentration of wealth in the top 1% and less for every one else. They also must explain why the USA has a worse health care system than other developed countries and we pay more for it.

    It is clear that the economic model we have been following for the last 30 years is not working. It is not enough for the Republicans to say our problems are becuase government is in the way, competition has not been allowed to work, and taxes are too high for the job creators. Where are the jobs?

    Obama should keep hammering the Republicans on these issues and while at it, Obama himself, should answer these questions so the public clearly knows where the fault lies. Now is also the time for him to put before the Congress a budget that he believes in, follows his vision, and let them vote up or down on it. Now is not the time to compromise with the radical right on core principles.

  22. If we brought back only 50% of the jobs we have sent to China and India, our unemployment problem would be cured. It's that simple.

    But that would mean our corporate profits, especially Walmrt's profits, would take a big hit. That is why our unemployment rate won't change much. Profit is everything and Obama can't do anything about it!!

  23. "It is clear that the economic model we have been following for the last 30 years is not working."

    Well, actually it is working very well for those the model was intended to benefit. The rich have gotten much richer and everyone else poorer. CEOs have gone from making 30 times what the front line employee earns to 400 times and as if that isn't bad enough, their tax rate was cut in half.

    So when you say it is not working, remember that it was never meant to work for the 99%. Just the top 1%.

  24. It's not true that we have the worse health care system in the world. Far from it. Our delivery of health care needs to be improved as does the affordability, BUT we have the best doctors and hospitals in the world.

  25. The President is the same. It is us that has changed. Both the us detractors - and the us fans. All are transformed under the President's persistent leadership. The SOTU was Barack Obama's strongest showing so far - a continued pitch for action to move away from the failed policies of division and status quo and instead a real charge into the future.

    The detractors have no game and are changed into a failed shrinking minority, a tiny hoarding few that are unable to intuit new ideas and repeat with new younger faces the same tired lies of the past thirty plus years that are known as policies of failure. Like Bill Clinton, only more this President has stood tall against their unrelenting criticism, lies and veiled racial slurs.

    The speech was mostly an appeal to the fans. Start with the facts, build the case in rational discourse and then make an emotional appeal to enlist reasonable people in the cause. He laid out a plan of action on all his key issues, both in fact and in his stage craft. From the start to the crescendo finish the President rose to the moment in time. Now, even though their is a sucker born every minute it is time for the American people to move beyond the fast easy buck of the circus.

  26. I don't know that the President is different. I think the economy and the state of mind of the American public is different. We're no longer on the edge of economic collapse, as we were in the first years of the Administration. The American public has seen the fiscal cliff and debt ceiling arguments come and go and are no longer impressed with the tactics of certain House members. Polling suggests that the American public is in agreement with immigration reforms and gun control measures suggested by the President (except for some who only approve if they don't realize Obama suggested it). I think the President is finally free to be the kind of president he intended to be before the economic crisis that appeared in Sept-Oct 2008.

  27. Agreed, it is not the President who is different.

    As a nation the have rescued the financial services sector that feeds the rich. Many in our nation though are on or over the brink of economic collapse, if not a physical wreck. We fail as a nation when even a small fraction slip into an uncaring oblivion. That is where we need to focus now.

  28. With the Inauguration address and the SOTU, 2008 Obama is back.

    And that's the Obama who electrified. I have spent 45 years on the central question of poverty, and the Obama who captured me was the Obama who had lived and worked among the poorest in Chicago, writing passionately and eloquently of his experiences in his Dreams From My Father memoir. At long last, a politician with a thirst for social justice unseen since Bobby Kennedy.

    But in the first term I was disappointed. Aside from being a politician who believes in social justice, Obama is also a consensual politician, a bridge builder. But he tried to build bridges to a Republican Party that was no longer a party of pragmatic conservatives, but one of doctrinnaire extremism. Individually, that party's leaders might be fine people, but collectively they've herded in collective rush over the cliff of hard-right radicalism. There is no one to bargain with.

    So that's why we needed passionate, fighting Obama back. And when he talked of the minimum wage, why I just about did a backflip of jubilation. Finally! And on point after point he went directly to social justice.

    Mr. Blow, I disagree with the thesis that a president seeking re-election has to moderate himself. The people elected a passionate Obama in 2008 and would that he had kept the passion through the first four years.

    But he's back. And the poor can see hope again.

  29. It was a great rallying speech. Sixty seven percent of those viewing the speech support the President's goals. The Republican Party will continue to dig in it's heels and crank up the lie factory. Weak Democrats will still try to hide behind appeasing rhetoric and hope to weather storms. What can be done to keep the momentum? Lets start with this. Columns like yours Charles, and a few others at the NYT, are vital to continuing to expose the truth behind the right's agendas and expose weakness. Keep them coming. As a reader, I already circulate them to an e-mail list. Like many others I know, I look for opportunities to expand that list to any sympathetic ear. In the last twelve tears I have signed more political petitions (all progressive) than in my entire previous years combined. I urge all to get on the e-mail mail lists of progressive organizations and sign those petitions. Just keep them coming, even to the already reliable members of house and senate. They can use the volume to show that they have substantial support. Write those letters. Make those phone calls. Challenge the fence sitters as well as the obviously retrograde. Keep the message not just alive but also loud. I read somewhere, sometime that congress usually lags behind the people. I is extremely vital now, quite probably as never before, that we make the push to deliver a country that works for everybody.

  30. If police chiefs want help to get weapons of war & massive ammunition off our streets, they're the pro regulation's best ally for change. Obama should get as many of them as possible to join him in a major TV roundtable discussion of why they want gun regulation. Let the police chiefs talk straight into the camera and put their case to voters. Then allow the opposing pro machine gun nutcases, who were given plenty of time before congress, to argue back against law enforcement itself. Have a showdown between heads of law enforcement and the gun propagandists, so gun supporters can't just accuse big govt 'liberals' of wanting to take their guns away.

    Also gun owners and NRA members who favor regulation should be featured on media, and interviewed. Their opinions and reasoning will be more convincing than the usual pro regulation people. Maybe they could even challenge the paranoia of our lawmakers who want guns to protect against a dictatorial govt--just like King George in the 18th century. Though for them, a straight jacket would be more suitable.

    If this is repeated enough, public opinion will get stronger for regulation. Then maybe those "vulnerable Democratic senators in red states who are wary" would get up the courage to lead, because enough voters will follow. Or voters will lead them. Or we'll get new candidates. That is what democracy looks like.

    Has the NY Times interviewed any of these police chiefs and NRA members who want gun regulation?

  31. Even if President Obama was in earnest about some of the issues requiring change, he has chained himself to the power structure that will be as intractable as the Republican party. His choices of advisers, cabinet members, political motivators within his own party will prevent movement forward.

    This had been evident for some time and the reason why his rhetoric does not match his actions. We can continue blaming the opposition for tying his hands, but they have already been tied by his own visions which do not look reality in the face

    An example is the creation of an inadequate health care system sold to the private sectors at a time when most voters wanted a Universal single payer health care system put in place. We are already seeing serious problems developing that many of us who know about the medical issues have warned about and which will continue to be financially costly and permit inadequate health care coverage. Ditto for the problems in the job market which need deep rooted change in how business is permitted to conduct itself, the educational system which has become a class warfare, and the environmental problems which President Obama has allowed to exist without enforcing regulations already in place. The same problems exist regarding the need for gun control which requires a fierce fight as well as real support from a public who are in love with their guns.

    No,I am not impressed by the promises made in the State of the Union address by my President.

  32. Some of your conclusions don't seem to concur with reality of both what happened in the U.S. over the last few years, and the reality of how our government works regarding separation of powers. Perhaps you have been in Ontario for too long.

  33. I agree with your POV, Mr. Blow, but the hardest part of actual policy making is converting political wishful thinking into political will. And that requires facing these political realities: The masses (or at least a majority) of Americans must be persuaded to agree with you and also that your lofty goals will be compromised in the process. On that front, progressives have not done their fair share of heavy lifting.

    I am always simultaneously amazed and annoyed when I hear liberal celebrities and pundits whining about how disappointed they are in President Obama and how he's not lived up to their expectations on this or their pet issue of theirs, as if their wish was within his command! In truth, if he had lived up to liberal standards he would never have been re-elected (or elected the first time). Unfortunately, that's cold hard red state reality.

  34. Denmark is everything the the conservative anti-government cabal on both sides of the Atlantic hates, and yet Forbes Magazine, The Economist, and The World Bank have all recently given Denmark a AAA rating as a place to set up business. Even The New York Times has this week a task force over here to investigate and report on the Danish welfare system.

    I moved here 30 years ago as a Disney illustrator and have learned that all that Republican rhetoric about regulation and high taxes is a lie. Here they have universal healthcare, good care for the elderly and handicapped, a great national pension scheme, free universities with a student wage, strong trade unions, and a well educated, happy, healthy, innovative work force. Infrastructure here is a priority, minimum wage is $18/hr. The first $5000 you earn is tax free, after that you start at a 37% rate up to $80,000 then it incrementally goes up to a max of 58%. Corporate and cap-gains tax is 28%. They have strict banking regulations and everyone has an account they can access online.

    All this sounds like a socialist nightmare to the neo-cons, but the truth is that it is a model for what the modern business climate is looking for. So President Obama has every reason to strut out his stuff and trample the encrusted free-market-shrink-the-government propaganda still holding back a meaningful U.S. economic recovery.

  35. Whatever you call it, all throughout Scandinavia an economic and political system is working that might become the model for all other capitalist democratic nations. Americans don't travel abroad very much (especially in the last ten years, with economic decline and high airfares). We live in a huge country, and don't look outward. The Economist had a cover a week or two ago proffering the Northern countries as the next boom area. And rightly. All the rhetoric about "free markets" and individual liberty from the GOP/far right and the US is less free, less affluent, less healthy, and worse for business and enterprise than these nominally-socialist countries. If American's travelled abroad as much as, say, Germans or Japanese, perhaps the reality of just how enviable Denmark, Norway, and Sweden are, and how much more of the practical upshot of the "American" dream is available there, then the epithet of socialism would lose its sting, enough to try some of it here. Those numbers are scary to a lot of Americans, and business people here. That is, until you go down in the street and look at what those taxes buy, and what you don't have to. Not without compromise or sacrifice, to be sure. But starting to look mighty attractive from where I sit on the west coast of North America. . .

  36. As an American who has lived and worked (and paid taxes) for more than 20 years in Germany, I'd like to ditto your message about the benefits of living in a country with a socialist system. I love it. I love the fact that more of my taxes go to pay for health and education, and less to starting unnecessary wars. There's no way on earth that I'd ever go back to living under the appalling and depressing system that the US has become.

  37. The economy and thus, jobs, is and has always been the primary issue since the Bush years, and even before then. What can Mr. Obama accomplish that will lift the country out of our doldrums? Nothing, if he insists on spending cuts to be offset by tax increases. Nothing changes. If spending is not reined in, our financial problems will continue.

  38. "If spending is not reined in, our financial problems will continue..."

    Could you be more wrong? Spending is what helps us get out of debt, spending creates jobs, jobs create tax revenue, tax revenue pays down the debt. If you don't believe me, look at history, specifically the history of the greatest time in our economic history, the post-WWII era. Government spending created the middle class and Government spending and other intervention is what is needed now to bolster it.

  39. I don't see any big change. OK, gun control is more forcefully advocated and the timing has improved for minimum wage other but otherwise, I see the same President of the whole country, the same themes and the will to find a way through all of the obstruction to pull our collective tail out of the fire and advance a forward looking agenda.

    But maybe WE spent the first Obama term expecting something different, like the President of the Liberals or the Poor or the Environmentalists or the anti-war activists.

  40. Mr. Blow is showing a bit of naivete, as though suddenly he's forgotten what President Obama had to endure during his first term. President Obama came into office talking about bipartisanship. Little did he know that Ryan, Gingrich, DeMint et al. were meeting on the night of the inauguration to plan a coup.

    Joe "You Lie" Wilson set the tone at the president's first State of the Union Address. It was downhill from there. Republican obstinacy, obstruction, and recalcitrance followed. For the first two years of his presidency, every birther conspiracy was spotlighted and devoured by the media. For the first two years of his presidency, we had to endure the grammatical machinations and stupidity of Sarah Palin and her "will I/won't I" fake bid for the Republican presidential nomination. For the first two years, I feared we were following the tea party into a Jim Crow world.

    But President Obama's essential essence has always been evident. It's the dignity and confidence that endured even as local Republican officials entertained themselves by e-mailing photos of watermelons on the White House lawn or of First Lady Michelle Obama as an ape. President Obama never once brought shame to the office or lowered himself to deal with the racism and vileness.

    A large swath of the American people found their voice and stood firm on November 6, 2012. President Obama hasn't changed. We're just finally paying attention.

  41. Excellent analysis of President's first term and I could not agree more.

  42. Like many of us, I'll applaud and support any and all genuine, tenacious, unyielding efforts on the part of any of our elected officials to reverse the trend of America's becoming a colony of a global, plutocratic corporatocracy.

    And also like many of us, I'll be amazed and overjoyed if and when such efforts actually result in the adoption of programs that would advance such a reversal. (Programs like effective campaign finance reform and greater transparency of elected officials' ongoing financial status and actions, for example.)

    But until then . . .

  43. The sub-text of this article is that we must make a change to our electoral system, namely we should have one term Presidents.

    Yes, we need Filibuster reform to enable important agendas to move forward without being stymied by obstructionists. Yes, we need Campaign Finance Reform and limits on Citizens Untied to create a level field on information. But, we really should limit the President to one six-year term.

    There really are issues that Americans favor and have wanted brought before our government for legitimate debate. But our politicians are immobilized by the need to be reelected, and therefore take vast fortunes from anyone who can afford to purchase their loyalty and demand their fealty.

    Obama didn’t transform into someone different from the man we’ve known for the last 4 years. He simply emerged out of the ignoble posture of fearing a defeat for re-election.
    For us however, the price was greater. Nothing happened. It was an elegant trap Mitch McConnell set for Obama: (1) delay all legislation, forestall all appointments, drive the administration's agenda into his second term and (2) make him a one-term President.

    It didn’t work that way for Mitch and Co. but ultimately, we Americans were the losers in this amoral game, Because nothing happened.

    There is not so much wrong with the American people as is often said,; but there is much wrong with the mechanics of American democracy.

    The rub is, sadly, only the American people can fix it.

  44. I have always supported our President and exult in the discomfort he has given the petit-bourgeois bigots who share my train ride into the Loop every day. You know, the same folks who stop at the intersections out here and take the "Impeach Obama" leaflets which the right-wing nutcases hand out every weekend. It's a throwback to my childhood in the early 1960s when people of colour were just emerging from a century of evil discrimination and de-facto peonage because of Martin and the Civil Rights movement. Progress for all will inevitablly engender resentment and hatred among those whom it displaces. I'm thankful to live in such a time and immensely proud that I report directly to the Executive for my job.

  45. after 4 years of republican obstructionism, racism, and trickle down
    nonsense, this speech was like a tonic for us. We can only hope
    that the tea party movement recedes more and more and that
    we begin, as a country, to elect non-ideolgues to office from here
    on. We've had enough of their clownish representation. The
    President has stirred the country with his speech - let's hope it
    permeates and hits the mark so we have a fairer, juster nation
    in the future where government is not demeaned, and can work
    for the good of all. I remain hopeful!

  46. Mr. Blow is correct, Obama has come out of the closet, finally, and revealed himself to be a far-left liberal who believes it is impossible for government to be too big, too omniscient too intrusive, too confiscatory. His State of the Union address was a hollow, stale retread of defunct liberal truisms that will get no traction with the majority of the population. While I voted for Mr. Obama (both times) I was hoping against hope that he would be a larger man: someone who could actually see past the taunts and empty rhetoric of Tea Party Republicans and, through strength of argument become a leader. He has not. He has chosen a tired, populist mask through which he can demonize those whose ideas differ from his, threaten through his inaction on real budget deficit action to bring this country to its second recession in less than five years and propose huge tax increases on the most productive and innovative groups of the population. He is all about government control over the economy; that has been tried time and again, in country after country and it has always lead to disaster. It will again. It is ironic China (which I visited recently) is moving out of sclerotic government over-management to a dynamic capitalism, and Eastern Europe is attracting capital from all over the world, we are moving into the dark ages of a Third world dysfunction that looks to bureaucrats for all of our solutions. America's decline is unfolding with Mr. Obama as cheerleader in chief.

  47. China is a totalitarian dictatorship.

  48. I think you are also missing a key point about China. The government allowed their form of capitalism to occur, but not in a vacuum. The Chinese government, without the 'annoyance" of any political opposition, invested billions in infra-structure.

  49. All President Obama did Tuesday night was to talk about the possibility of lifting full time workers out of poverty by giving a nod to increasing the minimum wage by a couple of bucks and you equate this with American decline?

    The speech wasn't excessive at all; barely liberal and certainly not "far-left liberal" as you described it. He talked about sensible voting changes, gun legislation that Americans want while preserving the 2nd Amendment, fixing roads and bridges, creating incentives for better schools, bringing troops home and even opened the possibility of adjusting entitlements.

    Were you watching the same speech I saw on Tuesday night?

  50. It is so frustrating that the progressive movement represented by the President is thwarted by the regressive movement represented by the Tea Party Republicans. The rest of the world must look on in wonder how the most industrialized and powerful democracy can have a political system that is so afraid of majority rule that it allows a minority of a minority to make the President a supplicant who has to beg the Republicans to not send the Country into Credit Rating Chaos on our national debt and please to not shut down the government - this from a man who was elected twice as President.

    The nation may justifiably recoil in horror that our Commander in Chief can command our demise if he decided we were a terrorist threat to our nation but we should also be outraged that we have a political party that wants to perpetuate a state of perpetual crises to gain political power- who wants to talk about gun rights and deportation and curtailing non existent voter fraud - who would let great initiatives from this President never get fair hearing on the floors of Congress.

    Yes the President has outlined a progressive agenda to move us forward and the Regressive Republicans will resist it with all their might. Perhaps they should attend those preschool sessions for four year olds - the early education they apparently lack.

  51. Thanks for pointing out that the real Obama wants to help the poor get out of poverty and into the middle class. The pre-speech media buildup focused on what Obama was going to say about strengthening the middle class. He has been focused on the middle class during the election and during the budget and deficit fights.

    But I did see an invigorated president Tuesday night who wants to fight for the American poor. Raising the minimum wage to keep up with inflation is a good start. Getting Congress to vote on gun control which affects so many families who live in and around poverty stricken neighborhoods is another. And the biggest potential game changer, early education for all, will help break the cycle of poverty by giving kids an equal chance at doing well in school while enabling their parent(s) to find meaningful employment. Obama's true colors were shining in technicolor Tuesday night. Let's pray that Congress will take the baton and run with it. Because no one deserves to be born into poverty without hope in the greatest nation in the world!

  52. Another great speech.

    We were all inspired by President Obama's words. The question is whether the flow of spoken words will unleash even a trickle of legislation. The problem is that Harry Reid has had his way and the Republicans still have a filibuster as well as a gerrymandered majority in the House.

    Hopefully, we shall remember the President's inspiring speech and keep up a steady drumbeat of letter, calls and email messages to members of Congress -- those who represent us in our states and districts as well those who represent us only through their actions in Washington.

  53. I don't think the conservative argument is that "that government must shrink and cower." It is that government should be responsible and not spend money that it does not have and that Americans should be able to keep as much of their hard earned money without being taxed to death by a government that has not passed a budget in 4 years. Please explain to me how the lofty, liberal ideas and 29 new programs proposed by the President will not add to our debt one dime?

    With all of the well deserved condolences and recognition of victims of gun violence and their families at the SOTU, it would have been very thoughtful for the President to at least mention Chris Stevens, the first sitting US Ambassador killed in 3 decades and the other brave Americans murdered in the terrorist attack on our consulate in Libya.

  54. Taxes are at an all time low. The government can spend as much money as it desires. The question is where the money goes. Investing in our future will bring enormous dividends. Doing nothing because of an irrational fear of debt will only bring more long-term debt due to a shrinking economy and having more people dependent on government services.

  55. There we go again - Chris Stevens, etc. Same old Fox Network line.

    If you are concerned with deaths of this sort, why not mention all those here and abroad who have died because of the "War on Drugs"

    A mention of the theory and practice of drones might also be useful.

  56. If corporations are people - why aren't they paying taxes? When was the last time GE paid a cent in taxes? What you're missing is that the Republicans have bankrupted us and their only solution is to have children and the elderly starve. They have never met a war they didn't like. How much have the last 2 unfunded wars cost this country???. Republican aspirations do not lead to a civilized society. Look at Northern Europe, those nations have incredibly high corporate taxes rates, an incredibly educated populace, free healthcare and education. Where do you and the Republicans want to take us? To Africa where we need our own army and let the plebs starve? Our nation does best when we are all at our best.

  57. While Mr. Obama's restraint in naming the opposition and calling them out for their obstructionism and dirty politics (e.g. massive filibustering) is admirable in ways, I find myself wishing he had taken it to them even more directly. The zealots and Machiavellians are eviscerating democracy and turning congress into a parody. The noble progressive aspirations enunciated in Mr. Obama's speech recall the impassioned visions of his first campaign, but do little to solve the pragmatic problems that have hamstrung the progressive movement. Perhaps the State of the Union speech was not the time or the place, but Obama and all who care about fairness and truth must make war on Philistines and obstructionist and bring back
    meaningful dialogue to our legislative halls, lest we be devoured by the Tea Party and their monomaniac ideology.

  58. I agree completely. While he had a huge audience, it was a good time to name names. I frequently found myself wishing he would simply turn around and address Boehner directly - "They deserve a vote - how 'bout it, Mr. Speaker?". Or perhaps say "I've sent names to the Senate for confirmation - how about stopping your obstruction and just go on the record with your vote, Mr. McConnell?".

    There may be no hope for the House at the moment, but If Senator Reid shows some spine, at least the (R)s in the Senate may be force to vote and let everybody know precisely where they stand.

  59. You forgot abject ignorance.

  60. "This time is different". Nothing is different. Obama is a sounding board for a liberal wish list. His neopopulist rhetoric is empty and stale. He has helped no one. He's probably a better golfer than his predecessors.
    Yes we can. We can get a real president in 2016. We can watch as real Americans with imaginations start new industries, not revive old ones like manufacturing and bridge-building. Labor unions have nothing to offer the baby boomers and their grandchildren. Obama has nothing to offer Americans except 50-year old speeches.

  61. "He has helped no one." I guess helping millions acquire healthcare and not dying from lack of same is nothing. You can't get to new, high-tech jobs without a modern transportation system. I think you were not really listening to the speech the other night. Your brain was processing the data without fully comprehending the details.

  62. There's nothing stopping u creating a new business. All u need is a laptop, an idea and some coding skill.

    If Obama has nothing but "stale" ideas, tell me exactly what the Republicans offer except a knee jerk "no" to everything Obama proposes?

    The Rep party reminds me of an angry child. All sense of perspective, empathy and ideas of acting for the common good completely gone. I'd go as far to say the Rep party has become sociopathic...and the public has noticed.

    How long can the tired old deficit mantra be churned out? Even if the Reps are right about it being a long term problem, people simply get bored hearing the same thing and fashion changes - it's that simple. By hammring continually on this point people have simply tuned out.

  63. My 401k is in better shape, some of my family members now have jobs again, the family members who are in the military are home, none of us has to worry about going bankrupt if we get seriously ill.

    He's helped us quite a bit and I'm grateful.

  64. I wish that Obama had talked about the real moochers.

    The real moochers are millionaires and billionaires who pay a lower tax rate than working people and large corporations that earn billions in profit and pay little or no tax.

    The real moochers are corporations, Romney and other wealthy individuals who offshore their money to avoid paying their fair share of taxes ($100 billion is lost annually).

    The real moochers are corporations that send jobs overseas and receive $58 billion annually in tax breaks.

    The real moochers are profitable oil, gas and coal companies that receive $11 billion annually in tax breaks and subsidies.

    The real moochers are Wall Street and the big banks that received a $700 billion bailout; and large financial institutions, multinational corporations, and some of the wealthiest individuals that received $16 trillion in near-zero interest Fed loans.

    The real moochers are Big Pharma, Big Agra and other industries that receive billions in subsidies.

    The real moochers are Romney and other private equity managers that benefit from the carried interest loophole.

  65. The real moochers are our local, state, and federal politicians. They produce nothing except schemes to take from those who do produce.

    They survive and thrive by stoking the fires of class envy. While we're blaming each other we're too preoccupied to notice they are picking our pockets.

  66. William M -- That does describe the Republicans among them.

  67. Yes, the true "entitlements" in today's discussion OUGHT to be those the top 2% believe is their due for being the "job creators" (who currently sit on immense amounts of often-untaxed cash (Cayman Is. Anyone?) in lieu of any such Eco-activity). SS's gov't-forced savings to avoid the Depression-era poverty has been demonized as "entitlements" when it' clear the focus of debate should be on the wealthy's assumption that, as fellow 1%er, Leona Helmsly once cooed, only "little people" paid taxes.

    What should we call a 1%er suddenly paying a significantly higher fed tab each year (maybe even an obscenely high 50%!)? STILL filthy rich....

  68. President Obama is inspiring to the hopeful and to those who have no hope.

    Now the trick is to figure out how overcome the roadblocks to representative government by an outdated Constitution which obstructionists have used to stymie the will of the people except when the political tide gives them the upper hand.

    The principles of Democracy have been rule by the majority with consideration for the needs of the minority, but, presently, the minority, cynically, uses the weaknesses in the Constitution to prevent rule by the majority.

    Not allowing law-enacted agencies from functioning by using the filibuster to prevent an official from being appointed is just one gross example. I don't know how or when this will ever get corrected, but until the filibuster is modified to allow the passage of laws and appointments with due respect for the minority to have a minority's say, citizens will be totally aggravated and upset with their government. I know I am!

  69. The framers of our constitution expressly constructed checks and balances into our form of government to thwart anarchists (non-recognition of controlling authority) such as yourself. They rightly feared absolute control by a majority and as your comment inadvertently suggests they were wise in so doing.

  70. I watched the president's state of the union speech on Tuesday night and was
    enthralled. Without a doubt, Obama has caught fire and is bringing the good
    fight to his detractors, the Republicans. He is in a roll and has the upper hand,
    having trounced the forces of negativism by winning re-election. This is the
    fiery Obama that the country elected in 2008 in the first place; he is back!
    I also watched Marco Rubio, a first-term Senator, give the Republican
    response. No contest! He had the same song and dance with the big govern-
    ment and lower taxes script. Where was the beef? There was none, only a
    plain stale bun. He claims that continued austerity and even lower taxes
    (for the rich, of course) will promote growth, which will do away with the defit.
    I say, tell it to the Marines!

  71. President Obama proposes great programs and benefits to many with no way to provide them without running up the massive federal debt further.
    The speeches are easy but the reality is not.
    After more than 4 years of President Obama's leadership
    economic growth is dismal
    unemployment is high
    the federal debt is huge
    gas prices are at historic highs
    empty buildings from failed businesses dominate every city and town
    divisiveness of Americans is at historic highs
    young and old workers with and without skills have few opportunities
    North Korea has nuclear weapons and missiles to attack the U.S.
    Iran's nuclear capability is near
    Medicare,Medicaid,Social Security financial problems are unaddressed
    Massive underfunding of public employee pension funds is ignored
    Washington is dysfunctional inefficient and wasteful and the President says the solution is to give it more money and power
    Celebration and praise for another political speech filled with empty promises is premature.

  72. Did all of these simply rise up under this President? Or are some the result of years of neglect of and failure to prepare for the future. Now we are in crises in education, health care, lack of adequate jobs, nuclear threat, environmentlal decline, gun proliferation. Precious lost years given over to war.
    This President has put it all out on the table and the Repubs turn their back at the suggestion of working toward solutions out of mere contempt while the nation furthur declines. Yes, The president won the election, but it is not a one man job. Too large a portion of the electorate would rather be led by Limbaugh, Fox than any "socialist" President and their Congresssman respond in kind.

  73. You need to invest in order to get returns. Big business has proven abjectly dismal in doing this, choosing instead to sit on the largest reserves of capital ever (money effectively doing nothing). Therefore the government must act. This is basic economics and has proven to work in other periods of depression.

    The deficit has been artificially portrayed as some doom laden entity which theatens the very fabric of civilisation. This is nonsense.

    If you want to see how poorly cutting taxes and cutting government/public sector spending has worked as a response to the 2008 meltdown, check out the UK, where the economy is actually shrinking and government borrowing has increased despite all efforts to reduce it.

    It may sound counter-intuituive to you, but govt investment in large scale infrastructure improvements is the only way forward at the moment.

  74. Actually, when people are uplifted, making a decent wage, pursuing happiness, the debt tends to go down because they spend and tax revenue is collected.

    Empty promises?! The economy is the best it's been in more than 8 years. Healthcare reform has been passed. One war has ended and another is ending.

    What empty promises are you talking about?

  75. The difficulty is that investing in our future is a low priority for Obama and protecting entitlements is a high priority. Given his background as a black liberal, no one should be surprised.

    But it is not what we need. What we need is more spending on our future and less spending on health care.

    But we won't get the "more" from Republicans, and we won't get the "less" from Obama.

    I support the increase in the minimum wage to $9. I also support higher taxes on the rich, indeed on everyone making more than $200,000 a year.

    But that alone will not get us out of our doldrums. Obama is a Rawlsian. He wants to bring up the bottom. He may claim to "care" about the middle for the sake of making a speech and pretending to be pro middle class. But he will not actually transfer big funds from entitlement to development which is what we need.

    What we need is either an enlightened Republican, or another Clinton. The Republicans did not offer us someone enlightened and Obama is no Clinton.

  76. "Black liberal?" And what are you, sir? There are many Republicans who would look down on you. There are no enlightened Republicans. We don't need another Clinton. One was more than enough, at least of the male persuasion. The era of big government may or may not be over; however, we cannot have a vibrant middle class without upward mobility from those at the bottom. Please explain how impoverishing the elderly will somehow magically translate into a revival of the middle class? Without government intervention in the economy there would have never been a true middle class in the first place.

    Please apologize for your insipid, racist comment. Otherwise, go back to school and learn a little history.

  77. Obama recognizes that the greatest enemy of our republic today is the huge existing income disparity. And what is wrong with bringing the underclass into America, beginning with giving preschoolers the chance to start school on a better footing with their middle-class cohorts and their parents a living wage?

    Furthermore, entitlement programs are what we have paid for to prevent us from slipping into poverty in old age. They can be made sound with a relatively few adjustments (say Krugman and others). They should not be made available for development. Rather we should be more than willing to put increased and redirected tax revenues into development during this period of making a sustainable economy. As the middle class expands, the needed revenues will flow back to the government as well as the into the marketplaces.

    So our President actually places a very high priority on investing in the future; it's just that he thinks more Americans--many more Americans--should be part of that future.

  78. Obama should be commended for wanting to bring up the bottom. Unfortunately, his primary tool is huge government entitlement spending. It's as though he has a blind spot as to how private industry fits into this picture.

    Because of this shortcoming he is paving the way for the very person you say we need.

  79. He needs the votes in Congress. Right now, the votes are not there. Right now, the obstructionists in the once intelligent, reality based GOP are in charge. Mitch McConnell, afraid of a primary challenge from a Rand Paul clone (the idea chills the bone), got on the floor of the Senate yesterday and trot out the old "left", "liberal" mantra of the clueless. John Boehner, also scared of his shadow, accused the president of not having the "guts" to seriously cut spending. This from a man who cannot stand up to the Tea Party caucus.

    All of the florid prose and stirring calls for action will mean nothing unless Obama has the support of enough politicians. History will show that the biggest mistake of Obama's presidency was underestimating the degree of hatred and entrenched power of the far right. While the Republicans failed in their attempt at making Obama a one-term president, and while the ACA was not his Waterloo, the next 4 years could be a long, cold march from Moscow unless the citizens rise up and act.

  80. At some point, you have to stop blaming everyone else and hold him accountable for getting his agenda through.

    After all, if he's willing to go before the public and make promises, significantly raising expectations and hope, shouldn't he also be willing to go to battle in Congress to actually deliver what he's promised?

    What's worse? No longer trying to deliver on his promises or making them knowing he won't be delivering them.

  81. My dear AAC: thanks for your response. At some point you have to cease accusing the president of blaming others when no evidence of same is there.

    Numbers are numbers, and the facts, for those who reside in a fact-based universe, are still the facts. The number "60" has not changed its intrinsic sum in the world of mathematics. Convincing a person to change their mind can only succeed if that individual has a mind open to suggestion.

  82. AAC: The president is not a dictator. He can't get his agenda enacted by fiat. Congress has to pass laws. For four years Republicans -- and ONLY Republicans -- in Congress have stymied his every move as a matter of stated policy. The (gerrymandered) House is intractable, the Senate requires 60 votes to get anything done, since Republicans are abusing the filibuster. Hundreds of bills and nominations have been killed in this way.

    So Republicans in Congress block every step forward, but he must blame ... the president? Really?

  83. There are many constitutional and electoral reforms that would do us good. One would be to lengthen Presidential term to 7 years - potentially without reelection. The perpetual campaigning is strangling all governance.

  84. citizentm...Amen on the Curse of "perpetual campaigning". I am an "unrepresented citizen" in Michelle Bachmann's District.

  85. Yes, that is his strategic direction: to take it to the people. It seems like such common sense. We have wasted too many years hearing liars from the right try to lay claim to the will of the American people. I winced every time I heard it. I notice they haven't been using that phrase much lately, and that is precisely because even they can no longer look in a mirror and form the words. They do not speak for Americans. Our president is a visionary who can shape society for the better. It feels like the spring thaw to see us finally look up, give him his due, and listen to his ideas.

    It is about time.

  86. This analysis presents a trite, sickly, acclaim of Obama's bromidic and "chicken hearted" oratory. Is he a coward? Is he just naive? During his election campaign he made no effort to run against the Republicans in Congress (as Truman did in 1948) and acquiesced in their control.
    Will he ever wake up that the Republicans are personal and vindictive in their dislike of him, and determined to thwart him at any cost to the nation, its economy, or reputation.
    All this talk about "bi partisanship" merely plays into the negative Republican's strategy. It means nothing.
    Until the president wakes up, rolls up his sleeves, and takes on these nasty, unpatriotic, racist, and hating Republicans "for what they are" he will have no chance to get anything, even an appointment, through Congress. His presidency will be doomed to complete failure---that's the way its going now.
    We can fault the republicans for putting their racism, and vitriol ahead of the welfare of the nation; but as long as Obama is too gutless and naive to start a "war against Republicans' a la Roosevelt and Truman, he will be condemned to mediocracy and failure.
    So what else in new in Washington!

  87. Right on! Glad to hear someone else is a thrilled as I am by the change in him this second term. My family was especially moved by the gun-control portion of the speech - which I've watched several times over online. Some great oratory there. Fourteen-year-old son said "Wow!". As a parent, I'm glad he's experiencing this historic presidency in his youth. Kid;s need to grow up with a sense of optimism about the world. Obama generates a sense of possibility that I adore. It's like Reagan, only for Democrats.

  88. The most portentous things about Tuesday's SOTU address were not in the President's words. In his manner, his tone was an emerging resoluteness and the calm centeredness of a man who is finding the courage of his convictions. We all knew he had those convictions, but most of us who share in them were losing hope (and patience) that Obama would ever stand up for them. I believe that he will, that he is. The man appears changed. Not just the SOTU address, but a number of other public appearances over the past several weeks have shown a quality, and aura. As another commenter mentioned, not exactly the same idealistic over-achiever of 2008, but maybe something even better. Hard to pin down or articulate, and not really necessary to do so. The next 6 months will be the critical test. I wish the President well. If he really is the changed man he does appear to be and presses forward, I believe he still can and will succeed in delivering the bulk of the balance of change and rational hope promised us 4 years ago. He'll need a lot of help, no matter how deep his convictions and how much political and personal courage he now has. Mine, yours, all of us who (even briefly) cared and believed in January 2009.

  89. Now that the economy is slowly improving, President Obama can spend less time on financial matters and failing banks and more time on issues that concern him, such as education, gun control and the environment.

  90. The "real" Obama? Not a word about Citizens United and the devolution of our political system into organized bribery. No full-throated defense of keeping Wall Street insiders out of jail and in charge of financial regulation. Nothing about undoing the corporate-written trade agreements that have destroyed the middle class. Nothing about holding the line on Medicare or Social Security (or building on their success) that couldn't be fudged by "compromise" later on. Sounded like the real Obama to me.

  91. This is the greatest argument for term limits that I've seen in print recently. I originally thought it a bad "conservative" idea, but with a corporate-controlled professional political class, I've changed my mind. This might end Congressional gridlock as politicians vote their conscious and not their campaign checkbook.
    With respect to Obama's policy pronouncements, we absolutely need full, nationwide funding of Head Start. It's been proven beyond a doubt to achieve the points (jobs, stable marriages, reduced crime,etc.) the President made. This may be the most important long-term, effective policy besides health care that the President achieves. I also hope immigration reform will pass and, at least, a universal background (including mental health status) check for all guns. These really should not be partisan issues.

  92. What President Obama says and what he really believes is possible to achieve are two quite different things. To me, it is evident that he has turned far more conservative, i.e., realistic and practical, than when he started. To borrow Irving Kristol's phrase, the man has been mugged by reality. I doubt that we'll be hearing any more grandiose speeches from him in the near future along the lines of the one he gave in Cairo in 2009 where he called for a new beginning between the U.S. and the Muslim world. . Win, lose or draw, focusing for the remainder of his term on internal matters such as gun control and the minimum wage will permit him to leave office with the image of a man whose heart was in the right place, but whose signal accomplishments were few.

  93. I guess politics lends itself to promoting new ideas and new programs to address key issues rather than addressing what needs to be fixed in existing programs.

    I understand things like quality preschool, but we have an existing education system that needs to be improved. I am not sure if adding new initiatives before we address key areas in the existing system is the right tack. Parents who really do not understand or in some cases care to be involved in the education process of their children need to be given guidance and assistance - just turning it over to the government should not be the first option . We have to a degree turned education into a huge social safety net, adding a high level of complexity to a very demanding job for teachers and school systems.

    In general I find both parties lacking in addressing real problems as telling the people the truth means they will probably vote in someone else who will pander to them. I don't see any hope for this to change any time soon.

  94. Well, duh. I don't understand why so many progressive pundits so critical of Obama's "timidity" in his first term did not have the empathy to understand that as the nation's first Black President, in a nation that is still far too racist, he felt he and his cause could not afford to make any big mistakes, so his obvious course had to be extremely careful. Charles you especially should have known better, and you should not sound so surprised and condescending now. We are blessed with a great and wise President, who deserves our greatest respect for winning not just a first, but a second, term. Liberal pundits could not have achieved what he has done, so they have no ground to stand on in second-guessing his strategies on progressive issues.

  95. Right then, during the speech, a manhunt for an assassin armed with legal assault weapons reached a fiery conclusion in California, after a week of terrorizing millions of people.

    The Congress has been blowing out the nation's brains by enabling gun psychopathy.

  96. Let's ban automobiles that go faster than the legal speed limit by putting speed regulators on them. We can also put a mechanism on every car that will not allow it to be driven by anyone who is inebriated. Autos kill upwards of 40,000 people in the USA every year, and most of those "accidents" are caused by drivers who don't follow the rules. This would save more lives than all those taken annually by gun violence.

  97. Yeah, that's going to happen in the country that created the muscle car. Sometimes it seems as if our whole culture is organized around alcohol and automobiles...

    Here in AZ, I can walk into any bar that doesn't ban guns (it's up to the establishment) openly carrying a firearm and drink until I fall of the stool. Chances are, they'd let me get in my car and drive away, if I don't shoot someone first. Oddly, those with concelled weapons can enter, they don't have to tell anyone they're carrying, but they're not allowed to drink.

    We're obsessed with the lethal combination of booze, guns, and cars, but if you get caught smoking a joint, you could spend the next two decades behind bars. Whatta country...

  98. I heard nails being driven into the coffin of what America used to be. At some point the Federal Reserve will have to stop creating money out of the ether, and once that happens this current rhetorical smoke screen will be exposed for what it is.

  99. You do not understand how the national economy works. Where do you think all paper money comes from and what it should represent, gold in Fort Knox?

    As for the America as it used to be: There were many wonderful things about America's past, but there were also things that needed improvement. Indeed, the story of this country -- what is sometimes called "the Whig interpretation of history," after the British historians of that political persuasion -- is one of increasing inclusivity, progressive reforms, and improving conditions for the majority of the people. Let the ills, errors, and sins of the past die and be buried. The new America will be better than the version Regressives want to hold on to.

  100. The last time I remember him having such confidence and arrogance was before the first debate with Romney. That was when he almost lost the election except for his excellent campaign team..

    He must remember that for laws to be past he must have the approval of both Congress and the Senate. He needs to stay focused and do what is best for the country including the passing of a plan that gets our debt under control over a 15 to 20 year period....

  101. For a moment I was discouraged when the President "called for a vote" on his initiatives for gun control. Then I realized this is exactly what we need.

    Will our representative's vote reflect the prevailing public attitude for gun control or will it reflect their allegiance to the NRA and their advocacy for the proliferation of more and more guns?

    That's a pretty fundamental question isn't it.

  102. It is a VERY FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION!!! But it is far more fundamental to the public than it is to our elected officials. It is time we hold them responsible for their votes and if they disappoint us, find someone else who won't. One of the real problems is that the public really does not know how our elected officials are voting on the issues. There should be a state-by-state analysis of each "significant" vote cast by our representatives--with space for them to make a brief comment about why they voted in such a manner. We should be able to access this running report on-line and be able to follow how they are voting continually. Without our votes, no matter how much money various interests are providing their campaigns, they cannot be elected. When our representatives begin being voted out of office because we actually know what they are doing and show our disapproval, they will begin to realize just who their master really is. Real, accurate, continual, on-line access to their voting behavior will prove much more important to determining how we cast our vote than advertising provided by the funds from unknown, undisclosed, hidden interest groups.

    All of the information needed to provide the on-line data on voting behavior can easily be produced--printed reports could even by mailed to voters by neutral policy groups, or the State. It would then be in our hands to make the decisions as to who represents us based upon real knowledge of just who they represent.

  103. President Obama is walking a path of a two term President who also earned an advance degree in economics by preventing a major depression. Like it or not, the world is a bottom up economy and policy needs to nudge the levers accordingly.

  104. I was very buoyed by President Obama's State of the Union. His delivery was simple in text and reached out to each American especially the impoverished who continue to have rough times due to the many constraints of government whether it is climbing up the educational ladder, earning a decent wage to support their individual families, and fitting in and being accepted in our societal structure regardless of their roots. His cry for gun control that most assuredly affects all Americans despite their second amendment rights brought me to tears. Every citizen including our Congressmen, governmental representatives and officials, and NRA AFFILIATES should work toward instituting new gun control laws so that being fearful in attending school, being fearful in frequenting public events, and being fearful in conducting our daily activities would be left out of the EQUATION. Now is the time for a new and fresh bipartisan approach to right the wrongs and encourage each individual citizen to forge ahead and equip him with the potential tools and opportunities so that he may do so. This would make him less dependent on government assistance/handouts, but it would provide him with the governmental programs to give him hope.

  105. I'm still trying to comprehend how increasing the minimum wage fron 7.25 to 9.00 an hour makes the minimum wage a living wage. Seriously, where in America can you support a family on $9 an hour? I have lived in many places in the U.S. in my lifetime, some of which have very low costs of living. However, even in these very low cost of living places, there is no conceivable way I can see $9 an hour supporting a family as a living wage. The "living wage" discussion is one we Americans need, and get serious about and I'm afraid that President Obama's proposal actually cuts off the discussion. I believe the discussion should be what is the minimum amount of money needed to provide reasonable support to a family of four. It seems to me that if we have a Federal definition of the Poverty cut off for a family of four, then it would seem that you could back into a minimum wage from there.

  106. While you're at it, wh don't we follow another commentators suggestion of a $25 per hour minimum wage, or let's make it $50. It doesn't make a difference if the workers add that amount of value or not because we are no longer living in a market economy but one that is trying to emulate the European social model - no one worries where the money is coming from until there is no more....

  107. The original minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, is worth just shy of $20 an hour today.

  108. I'm a conservative but I have to admit that the idea of raising the minimum wage (even beyond $9/hr) has piqued my interest because I DO think expanding and strengthening the middle class is the best remedy for growth and prosperity. Can anyone respond with some accurate historical information on what happens when a minimum wage is boosted?

  109. Quite frankly, the guy last night was not the big disappointment of 2008. I'm sure street fights, and all manor of ugliness will break out in the coming months. I think President Obama will be up to the task, but I am curious about the rest of the country- and not just the politicians involved. It's going to be an interesting time in American history.

  110. President Obama's speech sounded better, but you have to watch what he does and there are many, many things he is doing very wrong. Can he give up his embrace of the big banks and corporate welfare? Can he give up his dedication to secrecy and war crimes as standard operating procedure? Can he reverse direction and show a willingness to strengthen rather than weaken Social Security and Medicare? Will he really oppose the Keystone Pipeline? Unfortunately I think the answer to all these questions is "No".

  111. I understand why people say President Obama seems more confident now but I want to suggest that he was even more confident in 2009. You see he really thought that because he was such a nice guy, who was accustomed to bringing people of opposing views together, that he would be able to charm the GOP members of Congress and bring them over to his way of thinking. Also, he genuinely wanted to be bi-partisan and he believed that if you give the opposing side some of what they want, they will reciprocate and give you some of what you want, and in most countries, that might have worked but not in America. I do agree with Tom McMahon however, that had Obama been more to the left in his first term, he would probably have lost the center and made his re-election less likely, and if he did not win a 2nd term, he would not have much of a chance to be considered as one of America's great Presidents; so that would also have influenced his actions. But it was not a lack of confidence. Now, everybody grows in a job as their experience grows and that allows you to make better decisions, because you now have a better idea of what works and what does not work. Obama's might seem more confident now because he is carrying with him the experience of his fist term but he was never timid as some suggest. Another factor that plagued Obama's 1st term, was the fact that Democrats thought they had elected the Messiah and all they had to do was sit back and relax. Big mistake as manifested in 2010.

  112. Given the sour, deriding, and sometimes even hateful reactions from the right-wing pundits, It seems that Obie hit a nerve.

    I strongly feel that he Right is scared sh..less by Obama's openly confessed determination to use executive action.

    I can only hope that he keeps this up, and not let the cowardly backbenchers in his own party decide where he goes.

  113. President Obama's 2013 State of the Union speech was exhilarating in its scope and breathtaking in its fearlessness. I agree with Charles Blow that Obama unleashed is powerful and self-assured. He certainly seems to be stirring the embers of his 2008 campaign; inspiring hope and confidence in a brighter tomorrow.

  114. He seems more like the president I voted for (and campaigned hard for) in 2008; we knew going in that his first term was going to be difficult. I figured would take two terms to make a difference, and I'm glad my country thought the same, kept the faith, and reelected him. I still believe.

  115. Talk is cheap. It was in 2008 and it is now. He nominated Jacob Lew as Treasury Secretary, another Wall Street banker. That speaks for itself. He is still undermining civil liberties and prosecuting whistle blowers. His Justice Department has still not prosecuted a single fraud case against the greatest swindle in American history. His appointee to the Federal Reserve is still supervising the greatest transfer of wealth from the taxpayers to the top .01% while proposing to gut Social Security cost of living index. His health care plan is another huge give away to the corporate mafia., large monthly premiums with huge deductibles that make medical care even more unaffordable. He sheds mock tears for the children of Newtown while authorizing drone attacks that have murdered many more children than died there. Wall Street banksters go free while Aaron Swartz is prosecuted to death by his Justice Department. It is a measure of how desperate the progressives in this country have become that they embrace this front man for the looting of America.

  116. Never a mention of term limits; term limits, term limits...Keep them from holding onto office by the skin of their teeth, keep them from thinking of other things rather than hanging onto the gravy train. They invite corruption to remain in office. They die in office. They get senile in office, being in office is their only Raison d'être. Our own brand of American royalty. Without effective term limits there can never be real change nor can our system become what as it was originally intended. Casey Stengel had it right..

  117. The major threat to the u.s. economy is the fact that the majority of voters and columnists as Damon Winter find a great orator like Obama, necessarily, understands how the economy works. The problem is that, obviously, Obama doesn't know how the economy works and have no idea of the profile of u.s. debt and how it can be dangerous in a not so distant future to future generations.

  118. Actually, he does understand how economy works and has busted his backside to implement cures to the economic mistakes of his predecessor. The criticisms are usually that his stimulus package was not big enough. And remember, Bin Laden is dead, but Detroit is alive...and that's thanks to the President.

  119. I think the Republcian are surprised to find that President Obama is a center left president. They are bemoaning his "liberal agenda". I have to laugh at them and at their extreme right wing agenda.

  120. He's still to the right of Nixon, and probably Reagan as well.

  121. If this was in fact the real Obama (like the one who wrote two books and gave a oce stirring keynote address and captured a place in history), then was the one over his left shoulder Tuesday the real Speaker? And were the opposition party attendees 'glued to their seats' irrespective of the topic showing their true colors? And was the grumpy-gus Senator he called out re his once bold move against climate change (the man could not have looked more displeased) a true patriot or a bitter politician?

    If body language is a good barometer, then the President needs to be bold and visionary. After all, he IS now a one term President, and wasn't that their goal all along?

  122. Shrinking government and getting it "out of the way" only benefits the very rich and powerful because it frees them to exploit and pollute for their benefit at everyone else's expense.

    What is amazing is how successful they have been in brainwashing so many into believing that getting the government out of the way benefits them too.

    Listen up all you non-rich and powerful falling for the big con. Government is the only thing that stands between you and slavery.

  123. I share your hope that, finally, President Obama is committed to consistently calling out the obstructionists who are damaging our nation, and also to following through as far as possible on his promise to use the powers of his office to effect positive change - starting with more effective financial industry regulation. My only reservation is reflected in your comment that "This is how politicians who needn't worry about relection look...". Isn't that the root of the nation's problem? Don't we suffer from a surplus of politicians and a deficit - of leadership? Don't courageous leaders look and act like leaders whether or not re-election is possible? Don't they express their beliefs during the campaign, and then go all-in on behalf of the electorate - from day one? Mr. Obama is certainly a gifted speechmaker, and by all appearances a fine human being. Now hopefully we will see that he is also a courageous, dedicated, inspirational leader. His nation needs him.

  124. When a country is divided down the middle as ours is today, a politician could never win elective office without carefully parsing the issues and watchfully stepping between the hard lined opposition and his supporters along the way. If one cannot win an election, one cannot come to power make any difference whatsoever. Obama played the game carefully, tried ever so vainly, albeit unsuccessfully, to obtain bi-partisan progress during his first term. In the process of winning some legislative victories and moving the country forward on some issues, he managed to disappoint, even anger, his base of supporters. It's a very tricky game, getting elected, then re-elected, in the current partisan divide. Obama has done it cleverly and deftly. Now he is free to lead according to his own dictates. An enviable freedom for any politician.

  125. Curious that an alleged man of the people, by the people, and for the people had to pretend to be someone else to get the support of the people.

    If ever a president has disregarded the will of the people, it is President Obama. Polls show across the board grass roots dissatisfaction with his every policy.

    I suppose it's because we're just not smart enough to connect the dots between his policies and the state of the union, which the majority of us believe is bad and getting worse.

  126. That's a flat out lie, all of the proposals the president made in the SOTUS poll with strong majority support. Heck, even the assult weapons ban polls at 53%, with the opposition polling in the mid-30% range.

    The speech itself polled at 67% approval.

    As with all conservatives, if you don't like something, you just make up your own facts, no matter if they're clearly refuted by the evidence.

  127. He was elected by a substantial margin, after four years in office. That represents the will of the majority.

  128. I participated in one of those polls, back on November 6th.

  129. "After years of grueling recession..." When the President opened his State of the Union Address with a blatant lie we all pretty much knew where he was going. The recession lasted not years but 18 months from December 2007 to June 2009; twelve months under Bush, six months under Obama, all eighteen months under a Democratic Congress. The problem is that under the Obama recovery of nearly four years it has felt like a grueling recession and if we have another quarter of GDP contraction, we may officially be in another recession. Who will Obama blame that one on?

    It is clear where Obama wants to take this country, give up your freedoms and let the government provide for your needs and take from you according to your abilities. Move over Messrs. Marx, Castro, Chavez, Putin, President Obama wants to join the club.

  130. You know Obama is not a communist. You know that the recession was spawned prior to the Democrats taking over Congress. You know that an incoming president cannot be blamed for a recession that started before he took office. You are too smart to believe your statements.

  131. It was a bunch of fluff and you know it. It will interesting to see how the public reacts to Obama at the end of his second term. We will have tasted Obamacare for a couple of years by then. He proposed things there is no money to implement. We are seeing what happens when a huge muscle bound government runs out of gas. Only 33.5 million watched the speech down from 38 million last year. Americans are tired of the same old promises from a guy who has a much larger appreciation for himself than the people he is suppose to serve.

  132. The same old promises are are what we still need to get done, but thanks to our obstructionist House...

  133. Hmmm... You might think, from your comments, that it was Obama who lost the election, rather than the other guy, what's his name?

  134. Well, ok, a speech is a hopeful indicator. But really, it's now time to get serious about implementation. The President is catching up with where a subtantial portion of his party has been for some time, so no new coneptual terrotiry has been broached. Implementation is the watchword, which means that a party needs to start moving in synchrony its executive and congressional branches with common purpose, mutual trust, and unalloyed respect. To a major degree, this means that the executive and congressional branches of the Democratic party have to start working much more cooperatively than they have and listening more attentively to each other. It also means that a President prone to wanting all policy to be tightly controlled at the level of the White House has to let go a little and genuinely enable and get behind the policy and programmatic talent at agencies, finally allowing the cabinet secretaries to really lead in their spheres and be out front as spokespersons for major policy issues in their areas. They have been too muted heretofore. So, for me, the 'real' sought for Obama will be the one not who simply makes another speech about things already commonly held among his party, but who grasps that to be a leader means to potentiate - not restrain - a team so that it can release its inherent dynamism in getting things done. Now. The clock is ticking, and it won't be long before this presidency is over. What creative leadership cadre will succeed it?

  135. I agree. It's time for Obama to "twist some arms" to ensure some loyal support among conservative Democrats in Congress. He needs to bring pressure to bear on those who are reluctant to support the Democratic Party and its platform. The majority of American voters are behind him all the way. It's time he worked to bring recalcitrant elected Democrats into the fold. He must be able to count on their full support, but to get that, in some cases, he will need to work harder than before. He too willingly permits disloyalty among his party leaders and members of Congress. He's the commander-in-chief, and he must expect, and insist on, party loyalty among his political troops!

  136. Taking his policy ideas to the people is the only way the President can be the leader he is.

  137. 'Won't cost a dime" is the absolute unsung phrase from Obama. It will certainly mean an outrageous distribution of wealth in higher taxes for all .Its already begun with the payroll tax.

  138. It is not fair to say that Obama raised the payroll tax. He was responsible for the temporary reduction in the payroll tax in the first place. The key word here is "temporary." Now, it is fair to argue that the payroll tax was raised too soon given the current economic conditions. But that could have been stopped by Congress if they wanted to keep it low for a few more years.

  139. You blame Obama for being unable to continue the payroll tax holiday? I suggest the payroll tax be "redistributed" to be fair by lowering it and getting rid of the ceiling (now not charged on income over $113,700, so it's not so regressive (funded by the lowest income only)). That would solve Social Security permanently!

  140. Continuing the payroll tax reduction would further erode social security and medicare which is exactly what republicans want. We need Social Security secure.

  141. I am delighted he's stopped being Mr. Nice Guy and brought out his inner progressive. But what a hope, with the labeling already beginning, that rational people will hold the future.

    Specifically, it is getting to desperation time on moving forward to utilize clean energy, improve and update infrastructure, and prepare for a future dominated by increasing climate crises. The PR machine has persuaded us all into inaction, but this is not a recipe for success. I'm saddened that President Obama has bought the goods on increasing expansion on a finite planet fueled by ever more inefficient and inaccessible fossil fuels while we wait for progress.

    I also hope that the obstructionists will stop being outright stupid in defunding our satellite programs. We are becoming a third world country in space, and highfalutin' space exploration should take a back seat to studying and understanding our own planet. Dreams of taking off for space are neither practicable nor affordable.

  142. "Hope" such as you express, Mr. Dickinson, won't do it. We need more than mere "hope." We need aggressive engagement in the political process by every citizen who cares a twit about the future of this nation, our children, and the world. Hope is not enough. Speak out, act out, and volunteer to work the neighborhood. Knock on doors, talk to people about what actions can be taken, and help get out the vote. While we Democrats sit at home "with hope" for change, the Republicans are winning elections and taking over a majority power at the local, city, county, and state election levels. They are gerrymandering Congressional districts to protect their officeholders from challenge in future elections. They will come back and regain national power as a party if we, the people, sit at home and "hope" for change. We must act!

  143. I don't understand why politicians are so afraid of reelection and the gun lobby when the overwhelming majority of the population wants some kind of reform.

  144. Because the gun lobby has a history of pouring big bucks into the election of those opposing gun reformers.

  145. Bravo to Charles Blow for articulating this so well, and for recognizing both a remarkably energizing speech, and, indeed, a remarkable president. After years of second guessing by disgruntled liberals, I hope that now we can all get behind the administration and this agenda, and help secure the legislation and the actions that will bring about these vitally needed changes.

  146. Barack Obama is a tool of corporate and financial interests. That includes militarism. Nothing about that will change, whatever words are spoken.

  147. Great article. GOP commanded by the Tea Party has nothing to offer except, hate, discrimination, racism. greed and inequality to the American society. Anchor in the XiX ideas, I am not surprised that in their bitterness because a black man won the Presidential election twice, they rather see this country at its knees that actually doing what they are paid to do by the tax payers, that is work. Last two years republicans spent countless hours in passing legislation against women or damaging women. It is not a surprise that they refuse to enact VAWA, because in their eyes, women still a second class citizen. For the GOP their view of the country and the rest of the world is like a plantation. They do not live in a fact-based world.

  148. Is seems that you, like the President, have little comprehension or regard for the democratic process and the nature of a legislative republic in governing the people. Until we morph into a dictatorship and one-party rule, none of the proclamations of two nights ago will stick nor should they. They are hatched in isolation and then launched from the bully pulpit, seconded by the media in lock step without examination. Can you for once do your job and question and not merely accept whatever tumbles out of a Presidential orifice. Learn to think from more than one perspective; know your history; move outside your comfort zone to another country. Grow beyond your college sociology and social engineering philosophies. The public are not sheep, although apparently you are.

  149. Mr. Blow,

    Your excellent article can be summend up in one statement.

    "This is how politicians who needn’t worry about re-election look: more like themselves."

    That my friend is the problem that is crippling government and turned into a "circus", as you accurately describe.

    Politicians spend 5 to 6 hours every day just doing fund raising. Instead of working on the nation's problems, they are on the phone soliciting contributions. Fund raising has turned the job of elected officials into an occupation of just getting re-elected. This is like geting a job and then spending all day searching for the next one. No employer would put up with that, but the public does.

    Many political analysts state that the President only has about 18 months at most to get anything done because of the need of the Congress to get re-elected. So out of eight years, the administration only has three that can be productive. The Presidency is far too important an office to be handcuffed for two-thirds of the time, let alone have to wait for a second term to promote an agenda.

    Our political system has been rendered ineffective (gridlock) because of the way money has corrupted the election process. Getting into office and staying in office is predicated on being able to raise megabucks. Consequently, our representatives only represent big monied interests. That is a much, much greater threat to freedom than banning high capacity magazines.

  150. Yeah, but then term-limited politicians would have to qualify for some job outside government. But since Republicans claim to hate government so much they should be happy that a law would bar them from working there. Why are they working for an organization they hate? Because they're not qualified to do anything else?

  151. Agreed. Yet we still must ban high capacity magazines. The fact that one thing doesn't work doesn't mean we shouldn't fix another.

  152. The Rpublicans flatly rejected a minimum wage incease to $9. How stupid can those people be. I guess for them $2.50 is enough so the can buy a Hamburger for one dime. Republicans are a poor excuse for a political party.

  153. Oh yes, let's “tie the minimum wage to the cost of living, so that it finally becomes a wage you can live on.” Heaven forfend that the wages paid to the unskilled reflect the value of their labor!
    As for those unfortunate "young adults [who] are still fighting for their first job," I guess they ought to feel grateful that those first jobs are already filled by illegal immigrants. At least, if the President has his way, those immigrant job thieves won't be illegal anymore.
    Substantive improvement in education will prove to be impossible, because even a lame-duck Obama will not dare to alienate the NEA, the leadership of which sees any performance-based measurement of its members as injustice of the worst sort.
    Finally, when Mr. Obama weeps crocodile tears over the "more than a thousand birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries [that] have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun," I have to ask, where are the tears over the tens of thousands of such events that have been stolen from our lives by abortions?

  154. Your first comment makes no sense -- of course the wages should reflect their labor. How much do you pay for a McD's burger compared to what the worker gets? If you think the labor is not worth much, then the prices need to come back to 29 cents.

    Undocumented workers are not taking jobs away - that is an absolute fallacy. Most of the undocumented workers work on farms or on day-labor construction crews . I see no other people looking for those jobs. And if others want those jobs, tell them to apply and see what wages they are given and willing to take.

    NEA does not block sensible education reform - that is a crock. Performance based testing is a stupid way to measure a teacher's ability (even if Obama supports it). You cannot hold someone accountable for results when there are too many other factors at play that impact those results. Schools are not a business and should not be run like one. Measure improvement and find ways to take out external factors. Find a way to "measure" love, respect and care by a teacher, and the impact on lives later. By the way, many of those standardized tests are scored by people making $8-9/hour - very possibly do not have degrees themselves.

    Abortion is another issue and cannot be compared to murder by guns - it is a different argument as to when you believe a life is viable. In any case, the two things are not mutually exclusive, so why bring it up?

  155. Tying minimum wage to the cost of living does reflect the value of labor - namely just enough value so one does not starve or depend on (governmental or private) alms to stay afloat.
    Study after study suggests that jobs taken by illegal immigrants do not change unemployment in citizens - simply put, different jobs...
    Selective blindness over gun-related deaths in favor of abortion there no middle ground? At least concede that gun control would save some lives. Are you against saving lives just because YOUR agenda is not being promoted?

  156. I still went into the office on Wednesday and many said: "Did you hear the speech? I almost fell asleep. He is in campaign mode and said nothing new." There were other negative comments.

    The speech and its content were a 10 and a formulation of how the country has to think and behave if we are to move ahead.

    But the reaction among Republicans, many good day-to-day people, shows how embedded are the central Republican nostrums. It's an enormous negative force that consumes huge energy and time.

    The Republican Party is trying to regroup under Karl Rove and the RNC and is going to focus on seeking electable Republican House and Senate candidates and is also going to work to bolster State Party organizations which would be the feeders for future Congressional candidates.

    Beyond this tragedy of the interest commons lies the fact that the Republican party and its spokespersons are a negative force which does great harm to the psyche of America. Half the country walks around grumbling that there is a true gap and not an overlap in governing philosophy and that only defeat of the Democrat party and its platform will save us.

    Everyone needs to compare party platforms and the line item goals of each party. We need to see this on billboards and on the political opinion talk shows and news and commentary programs.

    Our President makes sense. In contrast, the GOP Platform and Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich and Mitch McConnell hurt every American. They don't care.

  157. Of course they don't care about the American people. All they care about is money.

    I wouldn't like to know such one dimensional people. Their personalities must be very dull if accumulation is their only source of joy.

  158. We need to take back our public airwaves licenses from the current crop of media owners who are very few.

    Here in Portland Oregon our Progressive Talk Radio was taken away, shut down one faithful Friday afternoon on November 9, 2012 and democracy died a little bit in Oregon. We will not be as informed citizens as we used to be. Fox Sports is now on and ratings are down down down.

    Clear Channel owns an obscene number of radio stations around the country. Not sure what else it owns but it is owned by one of Mitt equity investment firms?

    Our new is dummied down, he said she said. entertainment and bias, and outrageously damaging to Amerika.

    Break up to big to fail banks, oil companies, coal companies, natural gas companies, all utility companies and the to big to deliver good news media outlets.

  159. If raising the minimum wage does not increase unemployment, why not raise it to $25 per hour, require all jobs to be full-time (40 hours per week) and eliminate poverty as we know it forever?

  160. Raising the minimum wage does not have a negative effect on job retention or growth. An Internet search can direct you to relevant studies, and, as a start, you can read an article at

    Proposals to raise the minimum wage are always focused on wages within a particular range, not several times greater than present labor costs, as you presented in your (insincere?) proposal. Beyond that range, labor costs would affect hiring decisions. No one, except opponents who wish to make straw man arguments, suggests a $25/hr minimum wage.

    Increasing the minimum wage will allow many workers to participate in the economy, thus increasing demand and fulfilling their needs.The appropriate minimum wage is a matter of both economic policy as well as morality. The President is right in saying that no one who works full-time should be in poverty.

  161. The Real Obama? Yes it is now that he can't run for re-election. And his true colors can finally come out for all to see - that of a big spending, big government liberal full of unrealistic, inefficient, and expensive programs with no way to pay for them other than printing money, borrowing from China, or yet again raising taxes. This WILL end badly for the financial future of this this country if it were to happen - luckily we have the Grand Old Party to block his 'forward' march to socialism.

  162. If Republicans want to help minorities, they will call for Drug War reform. Whites break drug laws at the same rate blacks do, but thirteen blacks are arrested for every white person. Of course, this arrest rate disparity is fine with Republicans, who are busily disenfranchising minority voters from coast to coast. But what about the Democratic party? Who among our Democratic Congresspersons and Senators are working to reduce the numbers arrested? The answer is obvious - most Democrats in Congress strongly support a deeply racist drug war system, or they don't lift a finger to stop it.

    In 2010, 750,000 were arrested for marijuana possession. That year, Senator Diane Feinstein of California and Attorney General Eric Holder led the effort to keep marijuana illegal in that state. In 2012, Mr. Holder kept his opinions to himself in an effort to keep Colorado in Obama's column, but many people in the Obama administration are working overtime to keep marijuana prohibition going full throttle. VP Joe Biden allegedly supports racial justice when he isn't supporting a war against marijuana users. Last year, the Obama administration successfully litigated in court to uphold the DEA's "science-based" decision to keep marijuana in the same category as heroin.

    Gays and Latinos learned the hard way that actions matter. When they stayed home in 2010, Democrats decided to pay attention. Democrats, pay attention. This issue will matter in 2014.

  163. Right on!

    One additional point is that ending the drug war will do more to curb gun violence than all of Obama's other proposals combined.

  164. And he is blessed with totally clueless opponents. The Rubio speech was a joke and the rank and file Republicans still don't understand demographics.

  165. Many wonder why the President stressed the "they deserve a vote" message. I think that in this time of American children being gunned down on virtually a daily basis, he at least wants those in Congress on the record-- who quivers in fear of the gun lobby and who has the courage to vote for real change.

  166. Just once in my lifetime, I would like to see a Congress say: OK, lets try out your state of the union message ---let's see if pre-school, infrastructure projects, climate change initiatives, etc. work. But we never find out because either these initiatives are just taken off the table by sleep walking/merlot drinking ideologues or special interest groups gut the effective parts of good legislation --- we did have good gun legislation passed under Clinton, until the gun lobby made swiss cheese out of it. And just once in my lifetime, I would like to see Congress (and the nation) say, hey, that didn't work so well (the entire Bush presidency--let's not do that again). I sit is dismay watching the president describe his program and half of the legislators in the room sit around acting as if their agenda worked --- two unfunded wars, an economic collapse, historical level of inequality --in the words of Dr. Phil, how did that work for you?

  167. It wasn't simply their "acting as if their agenda worked", it was the open hostility depicted by the Republican's posture and facial expression, particularly that of the House Speaker, that demonstrates their unfitness to serve in Congress. The GOP is careful not to allow critical thinking to threaten their fixed beliefs.

  168. The Congress people you speak of "act as if their agenda worked" do so because their agenda does work for their constituents, aka corporate backers.

    Big Money wants none of the President's ideas for the betterment of the American people; therefore the GOP, bought and paid for by Big Money, feels and acts the same.

  169. How many times must we go through this, and pay for it. Actions speak louder than words.

  170. For way too long we've deserved better.

    For decades the resources have been there, for decades we've been promised so much but have received what always seems like just enought to keep us longing, keep us hoping.

    Here we are once again, like fans standing behind their team after another losing season. Next year. We'll get 'em next year.

    I don't know about you, but I hope this is the 'real deal'.

    President OBama in the ring, gloves off, no rope-a-dope, bam, bam, bam.

  171. It gave me a tiny little hope for the human species that one of us, President Obama, frankly confronted craven, disgusting behavior and called out for what it is.

  172. So let me get this straight. We are finally seeing the "real Obama", rather than "faux Obama" who has been in the White House for the last four years. Is that right?

    The complaint of progressives has been that he campaigned as one of us in 2008 and said all the right things. Restore the rule of law to the so-called war on terror! Punish criminal actions of Wall Street! Close Gitmo! Universal healthcare with a public option! The most transparent administration ever!

    "Faux Obama" expressed his support for all of those things, but didn't do any of them. But now, the "real Obama" has said a bunch of new liberal-sounding things, and all is forgiven! Liberals who voted for him have been vindicated! Hope and change is back, baby.

    I will wait to see "real Obama's" real actions over the next four years.

  173. I love this second term President Obama.
    This lame duck has taken flight, and fight to the American people.
    We, the American people deseve to see who thinks the second amendment, the way it is interpreted by the tea bagging crowd, is a way to protect yourself FROM our government.
    Many legal gun owners want stricter, enforced background checks. Many legal gun owners don't want ordinary citizens to be able to purchase military style weapons.
    Many law enforcement don't want ordinary citizens to have these weapons of mass killings either.
    So when did that interpretation become more important than all Americans right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, to NOT get shot as an innocent 15 year old bystander on the corner, or in a movie theatre watching a movie, or at a shopping mall, or in a 1st grade classroom at school, or ANY classroom, or in a place of worship?

    Put these guns concerns to a vote in congress.

    Let the American people see who is on the side of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to live an a country that believes guns are to protect and hunt, but not for mass murders.

    We all deserve a vote on this, and to see who is willing to put their money where their mouth is.

    Let the truth come out.

  174. "This is how politicians who needn’t worry about re-election look."

    Then perhaps we should restrict them to one term in office. Why waste the years of a first term if all they are doing is playing safe for another term? It's a tragic waste, really. And for what? One person's ambitions? Ridiculous.

  175. Yes, and all the more reason for defined term limits for all members of Congress.

  176. I like this one too -- but I still worry about his continued need to play the game of political favors.
    That Penny Pritzker was in the running for Secretary of Commerce speaks volumes.

  177. When will we learn that it's not what they say, it's what they do.

  178. I love the new President Obama. After 4 years of suffering insult and injury every time he tried to be reasonable, after 4 years of enduring the most vitriolic personal attacks on his essence I've heard in my entire lifetime, after a grueling election, he gets to display a new resolve and firmness.

    I believe many things changed Mr. Obama, particularly Newtown. To me he's seemed very very different since that hideous day. It's as if he's channeling his entire soul into the goal of making our nation safer for children.

    I know he's bent on enacting other important programs, but his campaign on gun safety is truly amazing to witness. Finally, we dare to speak of the cancer that's destroying this country.

    And he's taking his campaigns, for all his initiatives, to the people, which he really didn't do in his first term. That is the hallmark of every effective president; to be a great communicator.

    Let's hope, for the sake of us all, that Mr. Obama's resolve helps our country finally move forward on the issues that matter most, even if he has to do what he can by executive order alone. Hey, he gave Republicans a 4-year chance to be reasonable. They weren't, and they aren't. Time to get done what can be done--with or without them.

  179. This has got to be one of the most dangerous comments I have ever read on this forum. Basically she is saying, "Democracy hasn't worked for four years, so its time to just go around them by executive dictat." There are many leaders who were great communicators in history but whose people greatly regretted the lack of accountability to their people's representatives.

    This is a scary path you have chosen to support.

  180. You'll see the real problem with term limits as the Republican go into full court stall mode now.

  181. For over two years I've been predicting that, once he did not have another election on the horizon, Barack Obama would start acting like a true progressive. It wasn't until his State of the Union Address on Tuesday night that I knew that I had called it.

    Welcome home, Mr. Prez. I missed you. Good going, Mr. Charlie. It's no wonder you're one of my favorite columnists. Keep 'em coming!

    Tom Degan

  182. The magic of the "new Obama" is his term limit. We can only imagine what it would be like if a large number of congress could not run for re-election and could be honest and do what they believed what is right and not constantly working the angles to get re-elected.

    Why is the POTUS the only one with a term limit?

  183. Congress has term limit - they're called elections. Official term limits cause more problems than they solve. The REAL solution is getting the money out of politics - publicly finance elections.

  184. I agree, but then I voted twice for this guy. I wish he had been what you call "himself" from the beginning. Speaking truth to power is not just for second-term presidents.

  185. I worked in the welfare department for almost 38 years. If you knew the fraud, etc. you would not applaud his speech. He lies like a rug when it comes to welfare. This is not rumor, but fact. I cannot comment on a lot of things he says, but I can say from experience, he is wrong on welfare and the poor. When you can get free housing, a free cell phone, food stamps, medical card, and a check for spending money, why would they want to work. Think about it. Almost half our population is living off welfare. What happens when more people are on welfare than people that work.

  186. President Obama makes it quite clear that he is not just wanting people to hang out on welfare. He doesn't applaud it. He wants alternatives, like better education, starting earlier so children will be better prepared to get out of poverty. He also wants the minimum wage raised so people will be less dependent on government dole. Your comment is stuck like a broken record, just like Congress, blaming him rather than listening to the positive aspects. As an RN, I, too, work with medicaid and "welfare' but I see little of the fraud and abuse you are speaking of. I see people that haven't had a chance for education, decent healthcare, or quality nutrition since the day they were born and now they are ill and fighting for their lives at younger and younger ages.

  187. That has always been true for a small percentage of the folks on welfare. But for the vast majority, they would be only too happy to trade that welfare for a job that pays a living wage. Rita Yates, what you say is only partly true.

    Sadly some Americans only want to look at welfare recipients as leeches, and that is simply not the whole story.

  188. If the argument is that we should not give people assistance because of corruption then we shouldn't help 911 victims, Katrina victims, war veterans,
    or people with severe disabilities because of all these
    causes contain some percentage of corruption.

  189. We'll know Obama meant it when he stands up to the oil companies. Showing charts with big upward fossil fuel drilling and mining trends while claiming he wants to do something serious about global warming does not inspire confidence.

  190. "Entitlement reform" means what?
    To poor folk it could mean a lot!
    The moment is hairy
    Of "reform" I'm wary,
    Will Obama yield what we've got?

  191. Excellent! And you note the most important item of all---the climate change ideas the president presented.

    There are many persons who pay little attention to global climate change because of denial of it in the media and the many petroleum billionaires who also push for the denial of this dangerous phenomena.

    Yesterday's (February 13, 2013) NOVA program on PBS, Earth from Space, proves the thesis of the petroleum billionaires Koch Brothers attempting to continue their promotion of global climate change denial. It was a masterpiece of art and science and lasted for two hours. It deals with all the complex nutrient and weather cycles involving the atmosphere and oceans.

    I waited and waited for two hours to hear how man is interfering with those cycles and then, down to the last five minutes, one minute was spent on man's interference and it was very, very lightly touched upon and the words global climate change or anything similar was never mentioned. Some vague statement from a NASA scientist about "We are heading for some kind of journey." All very strange and evasive.

    Koch brothers obviously had huge corrupting influence on the content. In fact the main educational point at the end was to advocate for maintaining and promoting the satellites that are now aging and being rotated out---an excellent and positive point---but obviously NASA compromised the public education in order to promote their satellites.

    A corrupting influence of huge proportions.

  192. The President has good intentions. Making them reality is another challenge--and a big one. I hope a way is found to harness the power of the people to bring real change. It is needed to overcome a dysfunctional Washington, DC and gerrymanded state legislators. So many feel powerless to fight the corrupting influences of money on our democracy. We all will need to fight for progress if it is to become reality.

  193. On the minimum wage increase: If the wage were raised to $9, all those making $8, or $9 now will suddenly find themselves minimum wage worker, demanding more and this will spread through our economy increasing inflation. With the increase of inflation, interest rates go up, increasing the cost of paying the trillions we have borrowed. Every program has it's downside. It seems many of Pres Obama's proposals are political in nature, campaign speech, ignoring the fact that they require more taxes and higher cost of borrowing; "feel good" proposals.

  194. So we should just let the working poor continue to live in abject hopeless poverty forced to take food stamps and whatever other hand outs they can get because even though they work (sometimes at 2 or 3 jobs) their families would starve and/or be homeless otherwise?

    Walmart (one of the wealthiest and most profitable corporations on the planet) employees are forced to apply for Medicaid, and often food stamps as well, because Walmart does not pay a living wage and makes many if not most of its employees work part time so that they don't qualify for health benefits. There are many other companies large and small that do the same or similar.

    So sticking with the status quo... Is that what you are proposing? Or do you have a constructive alternative proposal to the one you criticize?

    Personally I think raising the minimum wage is hardly enough (and $9 an hr still not a living wage for most), but at least it's a start.

  195. I'd like someone to define what is meant by "value" in college education. If it is defined in economic terms alone, the soulless decline of our society will continue unabated. Moreover, the opinion of the Secretary of Education has only nefgative interest; he has no knowledge education and has displayed no interest in it. Training is his thing and that is something quite different.

  196. Is this the real Obama? Who knows.

    I do know, though, that the hundreds of thousands of his immigration orphans, children whose parents he deported, are real. I know that because I know some of them, and they are profoundly traumatized, and will be scarred for life.

    I know that the tens of thousands of children who are in foster care because he deported their parents are real. I know that the hundreds of children who were adopted in the U.S., against their deported parents wishes, and who will probably never see their parents again, are real.

    I know the children now displaced to Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Brazil because their parents were deported are real, and they are also hundreds of thousands, and they are foreigners in their parents' countries of origin.

    I know that the vast majority of Obama's immigration orphans are U.S. citizens, because I know enough of them personally. He has destroyed the lives of these children. Children forcibly and suddenly separated from a parent, especially at a young age, are never again the same.

    These children are real.

  197. Ms. Yates - I too don't like welfare, the earned income credit, foodstamps, cell phones for the poor (an extension of a phone program for the poor started almost 100 years ago). But unlike you, I don't see these programs as fraud or socialism. I see them as the government subsidizing the low wages paid by both small and large business. This is where we have come, thanks to low wages- a population more and more dependent on government, not less. I heard a conservative say last night that, instead of raising the minimum wage for workers, we should give tax breaks to businesses that hire low wage workers. Think about that.

  198. As others have said, this article lends credence for term limits; however 4 years would be insufficient. I would recommend one 6-8 year term for President and no more than five for congress; with only one run for re-election after five years. But that is pie in the sky thinking - no one is going to change. They talk about people living on welfare too long -- same thing with congress if you ask me. And it probably costs us just as much if not more.

  199. America's real problem which hardly gets mentioned is not too many guns, but too much poverty, ignorance, and hopelessness. The President did mention raising the minimum salary to $9.00 an hour, when in fact $15.00 for an adult makes more sense ( that is around $30,000 per year ) .

    Many of our worst problems, crime, drugs, and ignorance, would go away if poverty were eliminated or hugely diminished. Of course, the President is unable to wave a magic wand and give everyone a decent paying job or provide comfortably for those who cannot work, but he can and should use his elegant voice to speak up and find a way for our very wealthy citizens and corporations to give enough back so that millions of people do not have to go without.

  200. There are two strategies to make Obama's vision a reality. First, he must stretch the limits of Executive Orders because it's unlikely that Congress will support most of what he advocated in the SOTU.

    Next, Obama For America must gear up for the strongest effort by the executive branch to influence the mid term elections next year. Lots of democrats in the Senate are up for re-election and with maybe 63 House seats up for real contests, democrats must advance their numbers in the next Congress. If democrats take a 'shellacking' like they did in 2010, this Obama program outlined on Tuesday night will be a fantasy.

  201. Cynics, informed by the last four years of obstructionism from the GOP, say that little if any of President Obama's ambitious agenda will be passed. Perhaps. But each part of his agenda does deserve a vote, if only to put Republican recalcitrance and inhumanity on record. Let Boehner rally his tea party colleagues against an increase in the minimum wage to $9. This will be their undoing at the next election. After that, progressive legislation will leave Obama with a worthy legacy.

  202. President Obama is a man with a heart, and he will be remembered as a great president. Now it is up to the Congress to support him. They must look into their hearts and make the choices that the American people want and need. The fact that he does not shortchanging the elderly has my applause. He said (I paraphrase) Let's not promise what we cannot deliver, but let us deliver what we have promised. Yeah, Obama!

  203. Agree with the sentiment of the column. But with the current Congress, there's not a lot from Obama's speech that can realistically be implemented. Real, meaningful education reform, for starters - probably the biggest factor in our future prosperity - is simply hard to see happen. If liberals are serious about taking the fight to the GOP, organization on the level of the 2012 campaign will be needed for the 2014 midterms.

  204. Essentially the President has declared what his mission is for the next two years, which is to continue to describe the Republican party as a party of elites whose interests lie elsewhere than the work of the people. And he would be right to do so even as the Republicans decry his actions and words as abuse.

    And so by making such decrees that he may not be able to accomplish on his own, he spreads the word across the populace for support, and that support is tied directly to the next mid-term election. He knows he cannot actually accomplish all he has described and push forward all of his programs without a majority in both houses, for even the election of some Republican moderates would be a failure.

    But he needs to be pushy and he needs to continue to push on the failures of the Republicans, who haven't been a political party of the people for 60 years. How do I know this? Because all of the records, the history, the political actions, bills and movement by the Republican party shows that they have underlying motives which generally do not benefit the people at all.

    Today there are more people below the poverty line than ever before, but that trend started before the financial crisis under the Bush administration. Now the people trying to crush unions are winning, but with a strong Democrat turn-out in the mid-terms, we might just get this thing moving in the right direction.

    Roger W. Norman
    SirMusic Studio

  205. Yes, term limits for all, not just POTUS - all members of congress, plus the supreme court - why must we tolerate silent and misguided supreme court justices till death us do part? Whoever can't tell the difference between a person and a corporation has fully demonstrated his or her unworthiness of sitting on that bench. By the way, that bench should be lowered to ground level - they don't deserve even a symbolic elevation.

  206. Whether he's allowed the space to implement it, or has to be contented with just a bold articulation of his wish list for America's renewal, like last time, the State of the Union address by Obama does clearly reflect a vision of an inclusive, and forward marching nation, reminiscent of the founding days of America. Having thrown the gauntlet, Obama seems to have left the rest to the nation and its lawmakers. It's up to them to come up to the occasion and task by coming on board in right spirit.

  207. The conservative idea of small government and few regulations is a euphemism for the law of the jungle.
    Let the powerful rule and the weak perish. Keep taxes low but have a big military to extend oppression beyond our borders. Keep schools and universities private if possible. Make health care private and ignore those who cannot afford it. Social security should be privatized. Live in gated communities and get rid of the police. Why bother fixing roads and bridges when you can travel in private planes…etc.
    I can’t understand why any person able to think should listen to conservatives. Conservatism is a racket to keep the status quo.

  208. As always the President talks a good game and says a lot of the right things.

    What does entitlement reform mean? Corporations get their subsidies, tax breaks and tax havens taken away from them? Or are programs like Social Security that does not contribute to debt get watered down for the seniors?

    What scared me the most was the talk of the "so called free trade" TransPacific Free Trade and all the other so called free trade agreements this President has approved. It was the same double speak we were sold about the first "so called free trade" that it will lift all boats. It crushed the middle class in America, it drove rural farmers in Mexico off their farms and into poverty sticken cities in sweat shops and the Communist/Dictatorship Asia became a sweat job where yes there wages went from $.50 to $1.00 a day. Then China became slave labor haven for the multi national corporations who benefited the most from these "so called free trade" agreements. It cost the middle class America dearly, it cost communities and cities around this country dearly. The multinational are now going into communities and picking up properties for a pittance. They made billions while the economies of the world were thriving on credit, credit and more credit and they made billions when it crashed because the taxpayers of the world bailed them out and now they continue to make billions in the down turn.

  209. I do not think that President Obama was cowed by the animus that met him.
    I think that my fellow liberals and progressives were cowed by it and consequently did not stand up with President Obama and for President Obama by going to demonstrate in the streets in opposition to the Tea Party demonstrations, and, as well, in opposition to M. Mc Connel's horrible attitudes toward President Obama and the needs of Americans.
    Instead Liberals and Progressives were "explaining" to President Obama what he was not doing and what he should have been doing.
    I think that President Obama did the best he could under those circumstances, and that he used effective political calculations to get to where we are now.
    We should not leave it up to The President. We should support him, including by actual physical demonstrations of our support.
    We should be grateful we have in office President Obama and a wonderful The First Lady.