State of the Union Reaction
Last night's State of the Union address by President Obama put me very much in mind of a line from the movie Wag the Dog. A Hollywood producer has arrived to help the president of the United States with a major speech. The producer shows the draft to the president's chief of staff. She replies hesitatingly: "It's sort of corny."
The producer explodes: "Corny? Corny?! Of course, it's corny!"
Yep, the speech was pretty corny. Flags, Seal Team 6, we got each other's backs ... large parts of the writing seem to have come from the kind of movies satirized by Team America. And guess what? People will like it. I could feel those focus-group dials whirring faster and faster as the speech wore on.
Now a word about where the president is right.
You can date the origins of the Tea Party to Rick Santelli's famous rant on CNBC in February 2009:
"And in terms of modifications, I'll tell you what, I have an idea. You know the new administration's big on computers and technology. How about this, (Mr.) President and new administration—Why don't you put up a web site to have people vote on the Internet as a referendum to see if we really want to subsidize the losers' mortgages, or would we like to, at least, buy cars and buy houses in foreclosure and give them to people who might have a chance to actually prosper down the road, and reward people that could carry the water, instead of drink(ing) the water."
President Obama is also right about the breakdown of congressional institutions.
This breakdown will be as much a problem for a hypothetical President Romney in 2013 as it was for President Obama in 2011.
A President Romney will want to repeal the tax increases embedded in the Affordable Care Act. He'll want to reduce the ACA's Medicaid burden on the states. He'll want to extend the Bush tax cuts. He'll have many other changes in mind as well. And he'll discover that 41 Democratic senators can defeat any bill and that any one senator, Democratic or Republican, can deny his nominees a vote.