9 Key Moments from Obama's Speech
A blast at Bush, a shout-out to his wife, and a doubling down on heath-care reform: There was that and much more in Obama’s State of the Union. WATCH VIDEO of the best moments.
#9: Obama Slams Supreme Court, Justice Alito Objects
It was no “You lie!” but Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito appeared to mouth the words “not true” and shake his head after President Obama criticized a recent court decision that took away limits on how much private companies—some of them from overseas!—can spend on political campaigns.
#8: Husband-in-Chief Has Tender Moment with First Lady
So this has little to do with politics but may end up being one of the more talked-about moments from the speech. President Obama announced an initiative against childhood obesity that will be headed by his wife, and as the Congress gave her a standing ovation, the president observed her discomfort at receiving said ovation. “She gets embarrassed,” he said, then offered her a smile.
#7: Obama Blasts Bush, Angers McCain
Did President Obama take office with an economic and budgetary disaster on his hands, much of which developed on his predecessor’s watch? That’s the president’s claim—he lists a litany of problems, and says, “All this was before I walked in the door.” A quick zoom in on Sen. John McCain illustrates his displeasure with the remark (and, some amateur lipreaders claim, his ongoing fondness for a particular barnyard epithet).
#6: Obama Distances Himself from the Wall Street Bailout with Dental Analogy
The public’s distaste for the bailout of AIG knows no bounds, and neither does every politician’s desire to distance himself from it. About 10 minutes into the speech, Obama says he “hated it” and acknowledges, to bipartisan laughter and applause, that “it was about as popular as a root canal.”
#5: Obama Admits It: Health Insurance Reform = Bad Politics
If the first years of Clinton’s presidency didn’t make it clear enough, the election of Scott Brown to the Senate certainly did: Trying to reform health care—as opposed to campaigning to reform health care—isn’t good for your political health. Here Obama urges Congress “to take another look at the plan” he’s proposed. And if they have something better? “Let me know,” Obama says, prompting Sen. Mitch McConnell to stand and applaud, we think without irony.
#4: Obama Says He Will End Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (Almost)
Gay-rights activists may want to think about Obama’s promise to close Gitmo before rejoicing too much over this passage. Obama says he will “work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies the right of gay Americans to serve the country they love because of who they are.” But will Congress and the military work with him?
#3: Obama Claims Failure of His Agenda Could Doom America
“Doom” may be too strong a word, but it’s interesting to note the rhetorical moves of this passage. He begins by dismissing those critics who say his ideas are “too ambitious.” “How long should we put America’s future on hold?” he asks. “Washington,” he continues, “has been telling us to wait for decades”—as though the White House were not in Washington. He concludes by saying that other countries are making big changes, but that he—unlike the Republicans who stand in his way?—“will not accept second place for the United States of America.”
#2: Obama Shifts Priority from Health Care to Jobs
Can you blame him? It really is hard to see the upside in making health-insurance reform the most important issue of your administration. Here Obama makes it clear: “That is why jobs must be our No. 1 focus in 2010 and that is why I am calling for a new jobs bill tonight.” The loudest applause was no doubt from incumbent Democrats facing reelection this year.
#1: Obama Closes by Questioning His Campaign Slogan
If you’re a detractor of Obama’s, you probably saw the closing words of this address as more of the empty, abstract language you’ve never liked hearing from him. If you’re a supporter, you were probably happy to hear the president returning to the theme of his campaign: change.
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