Political Animal


February 09, 2013 4:14 PM The State of Our Union is Sexy

By Adele Stan

When President Barack Obama delivers his fourth State of the Union address this Tuesday, I gamely predict we will see more of the pugilistic, right-back-atcha Obama 2.0 who showed up at the president’s November press conference.

He’ll likely lay out the case for forestalling the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester, that are due to take effect in a couple of weeks, and illustrate the Republicans’ obstructionist approach to the problem. (House Speaker John Boehner is already trying to rename the sequester — a form of ransom paid to Republicans in 2011 in order to keep them from causing the United States of America from defaulting on its debt — “the Obamaquester”.)

As the Speaker last month told the Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore, who is also a frequent and handsomely paid speaker at events sponsored by David Koch’s Americans For Prosperity Foundation, he believes that the president made a serious miscalculation when he offered the sequester deal on the assumption that Republicans would never let it go into effect because of the sequester’s potentially decimating impact on defense spending. From Moore’s January 7 interview with the speaker:

Mr. Boehner says he has significant Republican support, including GOP defense hawks, on his side for letting the sequester do its work. “I got that in my back pocket,” the speaker says. He is counting on the president’s liberal base putting pressure on him when cherished domestic programs face the sequester’s sharp knife. Republican willingness to support the sequester, Mr. Boehner says, is “as much leverage as we’re going to get.”
That leverage, he reasons, is what will force Democrats to the table on entitlements. “Think of it this way. We already have an agreement [capping] discretionary spending for 10 years. And we’re already in our second year of it. This whole discussion on the budget over the next several months is going to be about these entitlements.”

So, basically what you’re hearing is that, in order to put a dent in benefits due everybody who has paid into Social Security over the course of their worklife, the Republicans are willing to but the security of the nation at risk.


For those of you who love metrics that are about things other than the destruction of the middle class, The Fix at the Washington Post has a bunch of pretty kewl infographics that examine the frequency of key word usage in both President George W. Bush’s SOTUs and first address to a joint session of Congress, and the same for Obama’s, as well as graphs on themes that examine the percentage of the speeches devoted to each one, as well as the number of minutes.

Along with cases presented against the sequester in particular and Republican obstructionism in general, we’re likely to hear a lot about gun control and immigration reform.

The First Lady today attended the funeral service of Hadiya Pendelton, the Chicago teenager who had performed with her high school majorette team in the parade that followed President Obama’s second inauguration on January 21, only to be gunned down in a public park a week after her return to Chicago. I’ll be surprised if this horrible murder isn’t mentioned, along with the Newtown school massacre.

There’s a lot of talk, of course, about the Republican response to the president’s speech, which will be delivered by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., the GOP point-person on immigration reform, and regarded as a contender for the 2016 presidential nomination. (Writing at Ten Miles Square, Jonathan Bernstein says that Rubio “is nuts” to take on the task.)

Having been tapped to deliver the response has apparently transformed Rubio, once something of a Tea Party darling, into one of those dreaded establishment Republicans, because a separate Tea Party response was also deemed necessary, at least by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who will deliver it. As Brother Kilgore notes, this is something of a phony distinction, seeing as how, on domestic issues at least, “you’ll need a crowbar to pry them apart.”

Offering perfection in your SOTU viewing experience, Fox News, late of a certain limited wing-nut purge, will unveil an ongoing online poll, engineered by Microsoft’s Bing, based on social media aggregation and other sexy thangs, creating what Politico dubs “the [potentially] largest dial-test focus group in American history.”

The Fox News SOTU social-media polling project is headed by the onerous Mark Penn, best known as the Democratic strategist and pollster progressives love to hate, but now employed by Microsoft.

As for me, I’ll be watching from the SiriusXM studios in Washington, D.C., doing some pre-game schmoozing on “Make It Plain,” hosted by the mind-bending Mark Thompson, then breaking it down as part of the panel on SiriusXM’s “The Agenda With Ari Rabin-Havt,” SiriusXM channel 127. Tune in!


  • c u n d gulag on February 09, 2013 6:10 PM:

    Let's face some facts - today's Republicans don't give a sh*t or a flying feck about nation, national defense, or terrorism, or the economy, or the jobs picture, or absolutely anything in this nation that they can't twist and use as a cudgel's to try to regain power by beating President Obama and the Democrats over the head with.

    As a matter of fact, I'd bet that the vast majority of Conservatives and Republicams pray at least a couple of time a day, for either another catastrophic terrorist attack in the US, or the markets plummeting, or something that forces us into another stupid war and occupation.

    As I've written here countless times:
    Party over country!
    PARTY UBER ALLES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    All for power, that they have no clue as to how to use for the benefit of anyone who's not a Conservative or Repbublican family member, friend, or crony.

    Conservatives and Republicans, are, by this definition, TRAITORS!

  • jjm on February 09, 2013 6:44 PM:

    This is the Tea Party's dreams come true, the sequester.

    That's why the GOP is running around trying to blame Obama for it, because a faction in their party took their hyperbolic bombast literally, like the fundamentalists that they are, and now they really may blow up the government, which is not really what the GOP wanted.

    But there it stands. People won't forget whose demand this was to begin with, Mr. "I got 98% of what I wanted" Boehner...

  • jhm on February 10, 2013 7:45 AM:

    For the record, the DoD "cuts" in the sequester will not (or certainly need not) influence the effectiveness of our defense capability one iota; and people pay into social security not to fund their own future benefits, but current and near retirees' benefits, as in all insurance. Falling into the trap of accepting right wing and conventional wisdom tropes does no favors for the good guys.

  • What jhm said on February 10, 2013 9:50 AM:

    "Republicans are willing to but the security of the nation at risk."

    Oh, if our military spending is only equal to the next 10 largest nations, as opposed to 13, we're suddenly unsafe??

    What was the last thing our military and their trillions of dollars did that actually made a person living in the US safer?