Tuesday, January 29, 2008

State of the Union/Teddy Kennedy/Florida Thoughts


What can I say? The 1st State of the Union that this blog got to cover was the lackluster, uninspiring, but thankfully final State of the Union of President George W. Bush. I don't really know why I expected something different, but I had thought that Bush may surprise us with a bit of a fighting spirit for his 'lame duck' year, but all I heard was a President who remains tragically out of touch.

All the negativity aside as someone who respects the office of the President and history of the country I always look forward to the State of the Union and hope that it will set the country on a good path. I get chills when the Sergeant at Arms says, "Mr. Speaker, the President of the United States" and despite my lack of love for Nancy Pelosi think it is still very cool to hear the Sergeant at Arms say, "Madame Speaker." The walk down the aisle I always find entertaining and encouraging. No matter the vitriol between the President and the opposition party, both sides shake hands with the President and show respect for the office. I find that weirdly uplifting and patriotic. The truth is most of those people have egos so big they just want to be on TV. Did you see Rep. Chris Shays of Connecticut give the President a kiss on the cheek? That was pretty creepy and odd.

As for the speech:
  • Even the Republican pundits were struggling to spin it afterward. For once I felt bad for Republican pundits and politicians. The leader of their party gave the country one last show of ineptness and they had little to support and be proud of.
  • For a President who has gotten relatively little done in the past 6 years (will give him some legislative achievements in his 1st couple years) he went back to the well as he does every year with 'right wing poll tested' policies. Tax cuts, bad trade deals, and threats to Dems. The speech was Deja Bush all over again.
  • This President showed again he has no answer to any economic policy that isn't a tax cut.
  • He threatened a Congress on earmarks?!? Since the Dems have taken control of Congress and reported on MSNBC last night they have reduced earmarks by 40%.
  • With regards to him trying to assert himself as a 'fiscal conservative' he failed miserably. I only noticed one area he mentioned cutting spending and that was the earmarks. Yet most of the speech was surrounded by new spending initiatives. Earmark reductions that he mentioned would count for around $15billion. The deficit will be in the $250billion range. Again President Bush showed himself to be the 'have your cake and eat it too President' showing no courage to hold the line on ANY spending.
  • Plus, I also saw a report that showed the White House responsible for around 500+ earmarks in that last budget alone. The hypocrisy of President Bush will not be missed when he leaves office.
  • The worst part of the speech to me was the tone Bush took with Congress. For the candidate in 2000 that claimed he was a 'uniter and not a divider' it was the same threatening tone for which the country has tired. The tone of the President was combative and will do little to advance any of his agenda.
  • The inability to work across the aisle is the number one failure of the Bush Presidency and the number one lie of the Bush 2000 campaign. No President has done more to polarize the country based on those who agree or disagree with him ever.


So enough Bush bashing, lets get to what was covered as the biggest story of the day. The Kennedy clan put on a remarkable show in endorsing Barack Obama who stole the news day. I thought it was an impressive endorsement and thought Ted Kennedy was at his best in advocating for Obama, and battling the attacks of the Clintons. As someone who worked for John Kerry in 2004, I can say first hand,,, if not for Ted Kennedy's tireless work and effective surrogate work in Iowa and New Hampshire in 2004, Kerry would have never been the nominee.

This is a major asset for Obama and think that Teddy proved why yesterday. He was forceful, direct, and powerful in his endorsement of Obama. While Ted Kennedy is a bit of a lightning rod for the Republicans, as the country has tired of the Bush's and the Clinton's, the leader of the Kennedy clan has a bigger voice now than he has at any point in the last 15+ years. I still think that Ted Kennedy doesn't quite fit the message of change that Obama has discussed and been so effective on in his campaign, but Teddy on the campaign trail is an amazing boost for any campaign and he showed it again yesterday.

I was also impressed by the short, but eloquent remarks of Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg. I have always respected her staying above politics and out of the arena. As I stated yesterday, if she hits the campaign trail think it could be a bigger boost for Obama than even her Uncle Ted. She fits the 'change' message and her sincerity and 'outside the beltway' attitude really fits the Obama message.


With so much news out there can not ignore the mega Primary in Florida today. McCain and Romney appear to be way ahead of Huckabee and Giuliani. This will be a huge boost in news and fundraising to give the winner a big push heading into Tsunami Tuesday.

Now there are two factors that will be interesting to watch.

  1. How big a factor will the early voting in Florida (about a million votes already). Giuliani had a 20+ point lead there for months. If he did as well as he says, it could give him a more solid third place finish, but more importantly are votes that would have gone to McCain. This could be the margin of victory for Romney.
  2. Speaking of Romney, I heard an interesting late trend in Florida on the news last night, which would benefit him greatly. Some Evangelical Christians, a stronghold for Mike Huckabee, have been saying that a vote for Huckabee, is a vote for McCain. If the Evangelicals throw their support for Romney that could be the difference.

I think Romney will sneak out a win tonight because of these two factors. He has the money to turn out the voters and despite the endorsements of Senator Mel Martinez and Governor Charlie Crist I think by a razor thin margin, Romney beats McCain. Now anyone who reads my old predictions on this blog probably knows that my picking Romney almost ensures a McCain victory.

Finally, on Florida, I have to again attack Hillary Clinton who will be in Florida today claiming victory in Florida. I cannot get past the Clintons latest efforts to claim wins in Michigan and Florida. There are no delegates in these states and Hillary trying to turn the voters of these states into a cause of 'voter disenfranchisement' is absurd. I am a long time supporter of the Clintons, but they are doing their best to drive me away from them and their politics.

One other incident of last night was the picture of Hillary and Obama from the State of the Union (Below). I wonder if this image is the reason Hillary cancelled her interviews last night. Once it surfaced I think the Clinton team felt it made them look good and Obama bad. Don't think they wanted to answer any questions on it because I wonder if Obama was as rude as the picture indicates. I doubt he was, but think they look at the picture of Obama as a negative for him.

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