Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 25, 2009

THE FOREIGN/DOMESTIC BALANCE.... The last several State of the Union addresses have been broken up into two parts -- a look at domestic policy and a look at foreign policy. Given the economic crisis and the public's concerns, it seemed obvious that President Obama would start with the home front, and he did.

I'm a little surprised to see him face some criticism for this. Around 10 p.m. last night:

* The Politico's Glenn Thrush had an item noting, "It took President Obama 46 minutes to mention terrorism, the military or foreign affairs."

* Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) used his Twitter feed last night to complain, "We are at war -- seems to me honoring our troops should come on page one rather than the end of the speech."

* ABC News' "The Note" asked, "Took a LONG while to get to foreign policy, no?"

The problem isn't what Obama said about foreign policy and national security; the problem, apparently, is when he said it.

In the midst of an economic collapse, the president is facing criticism for starting with the economy in a national address? Really?

For what it's worth, the Republican response from Bobby Jindal was more than 2,000 words long, but only mentioned foreign affairs briefly, in passing, towards the end of his remarks. Unlike the president, the Louisiana governor didn't mention Iraq, Afghanistan, or al Qaeda at all.

Update: The Politico's Glenn Thrush follows up, noting that his observation was not necessarily intended as criticism: "I made no judgment, just wanted to point out how thoroughly domestic issues and the economic crisis dominated the speech -- a stark contrast to the Bush years."

Steve Benen 10:40 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (23)

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Comments

why are you surprised at mark halperin; anyone from politico; or a republican congressman's utterly predictable criticism of obama.

it hardly seems worth noting. esp considering halperin's track record.

Posted by: linda on February 25, 2009 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

At this point, the economy is DOMESTIC and FOREIGN.

If the US doesn't get moving again, then the whole world is fucked so I think Obama knows what his main priorities are and doesn't need some half witted magpies chirping about pointless bullshit.

Posted by: Former Dan on February 25, 2009 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

First of all, it wasn't a "State of the Union" speech. It was specifically billed as primarily focused on the economy. Obama is going to be making another speech about national security/military issues/foreign policy next week I believe. Let's not buy into the RNC message that national security must ALWAYS be at the top of the list. Frankly, our economic situation (and the world's) IS a national security issue.

Posted by: winddancer on February 25, 2009 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

Wingnut media: He forgot Poland!

Posted by: calling all toasters on February 25, 2009 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

This criticism is as stupid and pointless as "why doesn't he have CEOs in his cabinet?"--They have to find something to criticize.
Actually, I thought the whole point of the speech wasn't so much to be a state of the union covering all issues, but to specifically address the economic crisis.
Nevertheless, this will become issue one on all the cable "news" shows.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on February 25, 2009 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

actually, my partner and i mentioned during the speech how refreshing it was not to have "terrorists" be the first word out of the president's mouth and the cause of all our ills, as was the case with our last presidunce.

Posted by: just bill on February 25, 2009 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

Of COURSE they are criticizing him for this-- it's ALL THEY HAVE!!!! They had to manufacture criticism somehow-- after all, what else can they do? They're obviously not going to go along and say, "Yeah, his speech was great." The GOP has to whip up some sort of reason to oppose Obama, because they're the opposition party. And the media has to go along because conflict sells. Sad, but always true.

Posted by: The Caped Composer on February 25, 2009 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

Damned if you do; damned if you don't. Had he reversed the order of foreign and domestic policy, they'd have dinged him for getting to domestic policy too late.

It's comforting that his critics have only semantic straws to grasp at. I think we'll see far better substance from the left concerning Social Security and private accounts. That blurb came out of, uh, right field.

Posted by: doubtful on February 25, 2009 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

Like someone said in a post below , we need a new drinking game , no mention of 911 - not once as opposed to W's 37 times

Posted by: John R on February 25, 2009 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with Linda, the first comment: no point in getting bent outta shape about this kind of thing.
Such criticism, like Jindal's response, is just boilerplate from a political group that admits no new ideas. I mean NONE.
As long as Obama continues to dominate the arena of innovative thought - and the GOP seems to have gleefully ceded that territory - we should cheerfully correct their outmoded BS and just keep on keepin' on.

Posted by: Richard Greenslade on February 25, 2009 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

"Took a LONG while to get to foreign policy"

Plus, Obama's tie was very slightly askew at times!

Posted by: ckelly on February 25, 2009 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

Well, pretty much everyone on this thread so far has nailed it.

The Repubs are simply scrambling and yammering...

Posted by: JM on February 25, 2009 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK
The problem isn't what Obama said about foreign policy and national security; the problem, apparently, is when he said it.

The absence of the use of foreign policy, immediately at the beginning, at the end, and throughout the middle of the speech as a tool to distract the public from pressing domestic issues is a big problem for the ultra-rich that are used to much better service from the Government -- though not as big as the substance of the domestic message. If people are paying attention to the economic crisis, they might also pay attention to what is done about the crisis, and not let it be a direct handout to the rich with the excuse of national need and the hope that the poor might get some "trickle-down" benefts instead of merely being trickled on.

But they can't criticize what really bugs them, since that would tell people where they don't want them to look, so they make vague complaints about timing with the implication that there is something about security or something like that behind them.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 25, 2009 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK
Unlike the president, the Louisiana governor didn't mention Iraq, Afghanistan, or al Qaeda at all.

No, but he did manage to sneak in a "Sept. 11, 2001" in there.

Any time someone in the GOP wants to give a speech, they should just play a recording of the last GOP person to make a speech -- it's all the same thing over and over again.

Cut taxes! Government spending bad! 9/11!

It's absurd at this point.

Obama's speech was spot on -- of all the issues we face, terrorism is vital, but not the #1 thing . Nor should it be.

Screw these idiots.

Posted by: Mark D on February 25, 2009 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

Doubtful echoed my thoughts.

So easy to guess what they would have said if foreign affairs took point:
"Hmph.... not taking this depression seriously is he? Prattled on about other parts of the globe 45 minutes before he noticed we have problems right here at home!"

As for military respect?
Does that mean he'll back the VA overhaul Obama's team plans to execute?

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on February 25, 2009 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

>"Unlike the president, the Louisiana governor didn't mention Iraq, Afghanistan, or al Qaeda at all"

Um...er... That's different.

Posted by: Buford on February 25, 2009 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

I would have liked on what internationally needs to be done to arrest the financial collapse. Obama hasn't said it, but while we must rebuild we will not recover without other countries also doing their part.

Posted by: MNPundit on February 25, 2009 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

Plus, Obama's tie was very slightly askew at times!

And his flag pin wasn't nearly big enough.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on February 25, 2009 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, nice hat, too bad your pants look like you stole 'em off a hobo.
Hey, you bought nicer pants, too bad your ass is so fat.
Hey, you lost weight, too bad your breath stinks.
Hey, you bought some mints, but I wouldn't have to worry about your breath at all if you only had something worthwhile to say.
Hey, you may have made some nice points in your speech but I was too busy noticing that RIDICULOUS hat to pay attention!

Rinse. Repeat.

Whatever a Democrat says or does, it's ALWAYS the wrong thing, IF you're a Republican.

Posted by: slappy magoo on February 25, 2009 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

If it's not War Porn, many Republicans can't handle it. And suddenly, a pre-9/11 mentality is what a significant majority of the American people want.

Posted by: Run Up The Score on February 25, 2009 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

No offense but to most Americans the economy is THE most pressing and personal issue. And to be honest, these people have OD'd on all of Bush use of the words terrorist, terrorism , etc. all the damn time.

Posted by: ET on February 25, 2009 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) used his Twitter feed last night to complain, "We are at war -- seems to me honoring our troops should come on page one rather than the end of the speech."

Seems to be Rep. John Culberson should support our nation's President in A Time of War. My god, if al Qaeda read Culberson's Twitter feed imagine how emboldened they'd be!

Posted by: Stefan on February 25, 2009 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

As Run Up and ET suggest, I'm betting that no matter how riled up the Beltway folk are, the general public will actually poll well on the fact that it was primarily domestic.

Posted by: zeitgeist on February 25, 2009 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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