What Is Your Opinion Of President Obama’s First State Of The Union Speech?

What is your opinion of President Obama’s first state of the union speech? I thought it was long on delivery, but very short on substance and tactics. I will begin with positives and then move into negatives.

Because I am a member of one of Toastmaster’s most advanced speaking groups, I am very critical of any speech’s nuances. As a result, I am a very difficult grader. However, in President Obama’s case, I rated his style and delivery an “A” because: a) he was very poised before, during and after the speech b) his navy blue suit, white shirt, red tie and U.S. flag lapel pin delivered a maximum impact consistent with the American flag over his shoulder c) he was very articulate with a very strong, uplifting, inspirational and confident tone throughout (e.g. “again we are tested and again we must answer history’s call”) d) he employed good vocal variety e) he had excellent eye contact with the entire room constantly moving his head from side to side as if speaking to everyone individually f) he used a lot of timely pauses to emphasize points g) there were a lot of good hand gestures and non-verbal communication to match his verbal communication h) he offered a lot of examples to support his assertions i) he often employed humor to evoke positive responses from the audience (e.g. “we all hated the bank bailout”) j) he added a lot of memorable one liners (e.g. “I do not accept 2nd place for the United States of America”) to evoke many positive applauses from the audience and k) he ended with a very strong and memorable statement, “We don’t quit, I don’t quit.”

He also began his speech with a strong statement about employment; “jobs need to be our number one focus in 2010.” Furthermore, 2/3’s of his speech was devoted to the economy. This is important because most polls show that jobs and the economy are of paramount importance to most voters. This contrasted with such topics as health care and closing Guantanamo Bay, which have preoccupied the Administration up until now.

Unfortunately, there were a lot of items both that he shared and didn’t mention that are cause for concern. They include:

1. His language and tone was defiant continuing to cling onto his three main goals, which will distract him from a jobs creation focus. He was like a gun fighter emphasizing that he is in this gunfight to win. Furthermore, he stated and implied that his agenda has not changed and he is going to continue to pursue health care, education and energy reform. All are commendable goals, but in a time of crisis and limited resources, one needs to focus all of their attention and political capital on the most important concern of voters, creating jobs. Once this is fixed, the other items will be easier to address.

2. I question his numbers. For example, he claimed to have saved 2 million jobs. Before the speech, the administration had been trumpeting that their stimulus plan has saved or created 640,329 jobs at http://www.recovery.gov With three straight months of 10%+ unemployment, which is the first time that has occurred since June, 1983, added to figures from the Economic Policy Institute at http://www.epi.org/publications/entry/jobs_crisis_fact_sheet/ which show 17.3% of those working that are underemployed (i.e. 1 in 6), I seriously question those numbers. Where’s the proof Mr. President?

3. He continues to blame others. For example, he repeatedly blamed former President Bush for his ills. One year into his administration with a majority of both houses of Congress in his favor why is he still blaming the past administration? Furthermore, he took an unprecedented swipe at the Supreme Court in the front row. Wake up and smell the coffee President Obama, you own this problem now!

4. There are huge contradictions between what he stated and what his actions will be. For example, he talked about providing incentives to small businesses, but there was little talk about freeing them up from all the bureaucratic red tape that he has added in his one year in office. Furthermore, his mantra continues to be: the federal government is going to solve this problem. This will interfere with that process of jobs creation. Also, he talked about spending an additional $82 to 115 billion dollar on jobs creation. Wasn’t the $787 billion he already spent enough? This is going to further plunge this country into debt! Lastly, instead of what President Bill Clinton did when he was in trouble in 1995 by: a) adding a more centrist adviser in David Gergen and b) moving to the center to gain Republican’s support, President Obama has added another far left advisor to his already extreme left leaning team in David Plouffe. This signals more of the same!

5. He has the wrong people trying to solve America’s problems. For example, Arne Duncan, who had only limited success as Chicago’s school superintendent, is heading up his educational reform plan. Instead, we need more creative minds who can generate revolutionary ideas in our time of crisis. For example, 46% of all U.S. PhD’s are foreign born according to the most recent figures by the U.S. Energy Department’s Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education. If we wish to truly improve technology then we need to vastly improve our math, science and educational training in this country. In the process we need to convince more students to enter the fields of R&D, chemistry, engineering and technology. To do so we need to vastly improve the educational process to make such training fun and effective.

6. Too little, too late. If he had been focused on small business creation at the beginning of his administration, this problem may not be so dire today. Instead, he spent $787 Billion on bailouts of the banks, Big 3 automakers and other new society programs, which sapped his energy and America’s resources.

In closing, I see no reason to change my one-year grade of F for this administration. Therefore, I stick by what I mentioned on WGN Radio on Saturday, January 23rd and WGN TV on Monday, January 25th. Please go to http://www.strategicsearch.com/media.php to view both appearances.

7 Responses

  1. Scott,
    I saw directly only the last half. He is a great speech giver. But for this one he seemed to just make a big list of anybody’s prefernce and to promise a gift. But without substance or real insight.

    He completely missed the jobs issue ontil the Brown win and polls.

    Actually, it is a bit sad he let Democrat politics and the Poelozi hacks drive his agenda to the detriment of the whole country. He has no empathy for the traditional Democrat base, the working man. He gave money to the banks, unions and car companies. Little targeted to PEOPLE, and only the Cash for Clunkers worked. And he cannot stop blaming Bush.

    Foreign policy of appeasement is an embassment.

    He is too imature to be president.

    We have to hope for more Republican wins to drive home the realization of failure to lead…


  2. Scott,

    I completely agree with your evaluation. If there was a grade lower than F it would certainly apply to Obama’s administration. In my 65 years many presidents have come and gone, but this guy tops the worst performers.

  3. Good analysis Scott. I only saw excerpts of the address. The defiance posture seems to be from those handlers who want him to take a more populist stand. I don’t think he does “angry populist” all that well. Another good move was to lean away from traditional democratic policies (nuke power, offshore drilling, dump a capital gains tax on small business, a fiscal commission, free trade deals and earmark reform.) The all important Independents will like that.

  4. Scott,

    Regarding #3, stating facts is stating facts. Before he took office, the economy was in shambles, we had 2 unfunded wars to manage, a 1.3 trillion dollar deficit. You may call this “Blaming Bush”, I call it stating the facts.

    The swipe at the Supreme Court was completely warranted as well. For Republicans to cry and shout and moan about activist judges, they sure were quiet when SCOTUS showed America what an activist judge really is. They ignore 100 years of judicial precedent and pass a ruling that has absolutely nothing to do with the case before them. Does anyone know how the ruling affected Citizens United (the plaintiff). It didn’t, they actually lost the case and the justices said the FEC was correct in denying their advertising.

    I would like to know what you thought of Obama’s sit down with the Republican Caucus today. Additionally, what specific actions did you hope Obama would do that would raise your grade? I don’t want the standard “help small business” crap. I want to hear a specific action you expected to see from this administration that you didn’t.

  5. I am reading these responses and I am puzzled by what JackB says and where he gets his info from. According to JackB, all these radical republicans are to blame for holding up Obama’s drive to get his version of healthcare jammed through. If I remember, did not the democrats hold the majority in both house and senate (before Scott Brown)? If there was 60-80% support at that time then this healthcare debacle would be a non-issue now as it would have been passed.

    Also as far as Eddie mentioned about the condition of the economy being in shambles prior to Obama etc., the company I worked for (a Fortune 500) managed to post respectable profits year after year, providing jobs for people who payed taxes. Unfortunately, this was not to last as declining sales, lack of new business growth and uncertainty in the leadership of the US during 2009 forced consolidation that resulted in lost jobs. Extending my unemployment benefits (by an additional 19 weeks) is a token gesture that wouldn’t be necessary if there were jobs! Let me repeat… we need a government that fosters an environment for job growth! It’s about jobs, jobs, jobs!!!

    What I take from these comments by Eddie and JackB is a desire to overlook the elephant in the living room and make noise about partisan party agendas – distract and deflect are tactics that accomplish nothing of substance.

    Obama still rates an “F”.

  6. I just had to reply to jackb who is painting with an incredibly wide brush.

    What in the world does treating republicans as grown ups mean?

    I should think that grown ups would listen to the constituency and decide accordingly. Now if your point is that the republicans from 2006 and 2008 failed in this and in turn were voted out, you might have a point. They were removed as adults who behave that way should be removed.

    Conversely, if your point is that republicans should get on board with a massive spending program which is hugely unpopular in order to be treated as adults by a feckless administration that has delegated their central initiative to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, I am sorry, your logic is flawed.

    Rather you must see that the President is now coming to terms with the reality that his ideology which was well hidden during the general election campaign was hidden by his handlers for good reason.

    No jackb, the president is now acting as an adult and this may well bring him the compromises with the adults that he desperately needs to get anything meaningful done.

    Scott, to answer your question, the speech was boring but safe and serviceable.

  7. I had to reply to Eddie and all the other Bush-bashers that refuse to read past the headlines and get their facts straight. You are right in that Bush did nothing to correct the path that Clinton set us on. It was Clinton that put the teeth into the lending laws that Carter signed, Clinton that made sure banks were lending in the neighborhood whether people could afford the loans or not, Clinton that allowed “community organizers” voice in banking business. Yep, Bush did nothing to correct it. But it was Clinton that got us headed in the wrong direction. Actually, Carter.

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