Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Balanced Assessment of Obama's State of the Union Speech

Over at The Atlantic, the always insightful Megan McArdle offers her take on Obama's speech.  She found:
the speech was better-written and better-delivered than many of the critics I read this morning; it had a lot of good applause lines (along with, yes, the groaner about spilled milk), and the president is stylistically a very good speaker.
But I also thought that, three years in, I'd like to see a little more from his speeches than base-pleasing applause lines and pleasing delivery.  The content of the speech was sorely disappointing. 
The harsh way to put it is that the speech was an extended whine about how all the rich bankers and George Bush have screwed everything up.  That was fine campaign rhetoric when he was a Senator.  But it's pretty weak when he's been in charge for most of a full term--two years of that with a majority in congress.
Of course, one can argue--correctly--that Obama actually doesn't have the power to fix the economy; the recession was deeper than he thought it would be.  I'm entirely sympathetic to this argument except for one thing, which is that Barack Obama got himself elected by claiming that "the Republicans have driven the economy into a ditch" and he could drive it out again.  It doesn't seem unfair to judge him on his failure to actually deliver what he promised . . . .

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