02.13.13 3:22 AM ET
Quick SOTU Takeaway
My quick take: A very strong speech, better that most, an A-. The writing was prose, except for the "they deserve a vote flourish at the end," which was powerful, but the structure was very effective. I really liked the way he opened by diving right into the sequester (as I suggested!). The words weren't exactly the ones I'd have chosen, but it was good that he said--early, when everyone was still watching--that the Republicans are going to be the ones to blame if these cuts kick in.
The general economic program was strong. The innovation and science, the education, the energy, the immigration pitch, the big long section on climate change; all good stuff. Raising the minimum wage, and indexing it, were terrific to hear. Personally I don't think $9 an hour is enough, and I'm sure he'll settle for even less if he can get indexing, but that would be huge. Also, universal pre-K is a big, big deal. That has very broad support. Republican governors like it. It's a good thing to be associated with.
The foreign policy section, a little less successful. The conlaw prof understood that he'd better say he understands that drones are problematic. He said he'll listen more to Congress and consult more with them on this going forward; will be interesting to see exactly what that means.
Then, the ending. The right to vote, and guns. Very powerful stuff. And the Republicans looked like idiots, frankly, sitting there not applauding for that poor 102-year-old woman who waited six hours to vote, not applauding victims of gun violence. They whine that Obama says they're heartless? Can't they understand that that's how they look?
This was the victory of this speech: The things that Obama mentioned that are clearly popular with the American people that the Republicans just sat there like statues ignoring. They are such crybabies every day about what Obama allegedly does to try to make them look bad. They're doing plenty well at that themselves.