A Word of Explanation

Welcome to my political commentary blog. I figured I’d use this introduction to explain how I arrived at writing this blog. I grew up as a Conservative Republican and went through college and law school essentially holding to those beliefs. Being an Evangelical Christian as well, I would have been considered a member of the Religious Right. However, over the last few years, I became increasingly disillusioned by the Republican party. For instance, I believe in conservative fiscal policy, so I could not agree with continuing massive tax cuts aimed at the wealthiest Americans while the country had a serious budget deficit which was only increasing due to fighting two wars. I am also a firm believer in the rule of law, so I took issue with the Bush administration using the cloak of national security to deny habeas corpus rights. Finally, the politics of fear & division used by the Bush political team, turned me off. Especially, their use of the War in Iraq, which I now believe was a major mistake.

In 2008, this caused me to do what 5 years before, I would have thought to be the unthinkable – I voted for a Democrat for President. In supporting Barack Obama and since I am an advocate by trade, I decided to write a political essay setting forth my rationale. I enjoyed the process so much, I was looking for an outlet to continue my political thoughts. When my cousin started a personal blog, it gave me the idea to start a political commentary blog.

Like the name suggests, I still consider my self a conservative as many of my political stands are conservative, but I definitely have a more progressive line of thinking. You should see both sides come out as I post. Some of the posts will be more analysis while others will be more editorial and take a position. I look forward to any feedback. Let me know if there is a topic you would like me to discuss (see my contact info at the bottom of this page).


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Preview of the State of the Union

Tomorrow night President Obama will be giving his first State of the Union Address (Wednesday, January 27 at 9 PM EST). In many ways it couldn’t come at a better time for the President. With the Democrats’ loss in the Massachusetts special election and his continually dropping poll numbers, the President certainly could use a bump and typically the State of the Union Address does that for the sitting President. Of course, if it’s only a momentary bounce and nothing gets done in the next few months, it could be considered a huge failure. That is because of the approaching mid-term elections coming this November. While the President won’t be on the ballot, certainly his agenda will be. For these reasons, the State of the Union is probably the biggest thing the President will do this year as it will set the tone for the next few months as to what legislative things might be able to be accomplished and also set the tone for the coming election.

He’s already started to give a preview of what will be included in the address. I have read that he will say that “[He’s] a lot more optimistic than [he] was a year ago.” Along these lines he will address America’s resilience and for that reason, he is optimistic. Once again, I know that both conservatives and liberal cringe when I say this, but this is a page right out of Ronald Reagan’s playbook and I am still convinced that by the time he is done, he will become to the Democrats what Reagan is to the Republicans - a president who took over the country during a very difficult time both at home and abroad and was able to inspire us out of our malaise to believe in ourselves again.

This is the first thing I will be looking for – the typical Obama oratory that can inspire even the cynical; an oratory that makes you want the country (and by extension him) to succeed. Anything less that the full Obama oratorical skills will be very disappointing and will probably be judged a failure. State of the Union Addresses are typically used as the President giving a laundry list of items he wants to see passed. While President Obama will undoubtedly do some of this, I think if he focuses on a laundry list, it will be a mistake. Certainly he will need to make the case again for health care reform (more on that later), as well as jobs programs and fiscal discipline, but if it simply becomes some laundry list, it will lose the average American viewer and any oratory at the beginning or end will seem simply added for effect.

The second thing I want is for him to tell Congress what exactly he wants them to do on health care. Should the House pass the Senate bill? Should they strip it down to a bare bones bill that can have some moderate Republican support? Should they engage the Republicans in conference and try and reconcile the two bills to something that can get passed by both bodies? While he may not come out specifically and say it, I’ll be looking for how he addresses it and if his wishes can be read between the lines. However, Congress cannot be his only audience on this issue. As an advocate for health care reform, I want him to really make the case to the American people again as to why this is so important especially since the reform is so close. It is in this area that Obama the campaigner needs to return – not Obama the policy wonk.The final thing I’m looking forward to is his addressing the economic problems and the growing deficit. He has already made indications of what he will propose on the deficit as he is already calling for a freeze on non-security discretionary spending over the next three budget years. While this would still only apply to a portion of the federal budget, it will supposedly save $250 billion over the next decade. So how can the President help boost the economy, create jobs, all while not raising the deficit, I’ll be waiting to see what he says.

One final note (not pertaining to the State of the Union Address): is bi-partisanship truly dead? I am afraid so. The latest sign. Today, the Senate defeated the appointment of an independent bi-partisan commission to look at the long term problem of the deficit and to make recommendations as to how it can be addressed. How did it lose? Ironically, that was bi-partisan as the extremes of the parties defeated it together. The liberal democrats who want to protect entitlement programs voted it down for fear the commission would recommend cuts while the conservative republicans voted against it as they were concerned that the commission might propose tax increases. Mind you, the commissions job was only to make recommendations, but the extremes in both parties were still afraid to take an honest look at the situation. Once again, as a moderate, I feel completely left out as though my opinion is completely at the whim of the extremes in the political world. Have we become that polarized? Apparently so.

President Obama: If you can do anything to bring that civility and bi-partisanship back to Washington, now is the time. Unfortunately, I’m losing hope that it will ever change.

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