Thursday, January 28, 2010

Obama and the State of One Year

A year and a week after Obama was inaugurated, he appeared before Congress to deliver his first State of the Union. Even though, Obama should be in good political shape(Democrats actually hold more seats today than they did a year ago and there are incremental but substantial successes to point to) recent events made it feel like the President was in political trouble. The recent Massachusetts special election, and ensuing Democratic freak out, made the situation look worse then it should.

Obama used his speech to give a reset to his administration. I liked that the President came out fighting and defending his record. I also enjoyed the air of silent tension in the House chamber. While the audience was outwardly more respectable, there appeared to be a constant undercurrent of reaction to Obama's speech(even from Associate Justice Samuel Alito). It felt like a Prime Minister addressing the House of Commons on a serious subject. I am also glad that the President affirmed his support for the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, and Defense Secretary Gates endorsement.

I wanted to hear a firm commitment on Obama's plan for passing the healthcare bill. While he did not give the firm direction I was hoping for, Obama did appear to give a guiding hand to the direction he wanted to go. He said he would not "walk away" from healthcare, and then later said the Democrats still had large majorities and "should not run for the hills." My belief is that this is the boost needed to encourage the House to pass the Senate bill and for the Senate to promise to use reconciliation to address the needed fixes but granted I am reading between the lines.

Ultimately what will determine the success and effectiveness of Obama's 1st State of the Union is the passage of healthcare, and a change in the jobs and economic outlook.

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