You may not have noticed it, but Obama’s tepid SOTU speech was actually a cunning trap cleverly set for his enemies, according to Ed Kilgore in TNR.
Did you think it boring and devoid of good ideas, re-circulating tired slogans and a pastiche of ineffective and worn-out solutions—if you could bear to listen at all? Well, think again:
…[T]hat’s the beauty of Obama’s address. He basically put together every modest, centrist, reasonable-sounding idea for public investment aimed at job creation and economic growth that anyone has ever uttered; and he did so at the exact moment that the GOP has abandoned the very concept of public investment altogether.
Only Noam Scheiber’s latest, also in TNR, can match the breathtaking cynicism of the following paragraph of Kilgore’s [emphasis mine]:
Moreover, Obama’s tone—the constant invocation of bipartisanship at a time when Republicans are certain to oppose most of what he’s called for, while going after the progressive programs and policies of the past—should sound familiar as well. It was Bill Clinton’s constant refrain, which he called “progress over partisanship,” during his second-term struggle with the Republican Congress. During that period, the Republicans being asked to transcend “partisanship” were trying to remove Clinton from office. And Clinton wasn’t really extending his hand in a gesture of cooperation with the GOP but, by creating a contrast with their ideological fury, indicating that he himself embodied the bipartisan aspirations of the American people and the best ideas of both parties. It was quite effective.
So, similarly, Obama will pose as a bipartisan, contrasting his tone with that of the angry GOP. Brilliant! And this is from a supporter, who seems to think it’s not only okay but remarkably clever and bound to succeed.
Only problem is that, if the American people have any smarts at all, they will recall that Obama’s outstretched bipartisan hand has only come on the scene after the Republicans won back the House. Funny timing, that.
One more thing: Clinton had the personality to pull it off. Obama does not.
Oh, and GOP “fury” much more clearly matches the mood of much of the country right now than it did in Clinton’s time.