Lat night US president Barack Obama again did what he does so very well: He gave another very good State of the Union speech to the entire US congress, most of the Supreme Court, his cabinet, and the American people…as well as many others from around the world.
Obama is an orator, and his ability to speak is becoming legendary. But last night’s message was unique in that he made the point repeatedly that the only way to succeed was for both democrats and republicans to work together, to compromise on legislation and to move forward as a team. As if to accentuate the point, more than 60 congresspeople of opposing parties sat together instead of their more recently normal total segregation by party. It seemed that the bipartisan spirit kept increasing as Obama kept speaking, judging from the number of non-partisan standing ovations he received.
One factor that stood out in Obama’s speech was that he did not lay blame on the GOP or try to convince the audience that “it’s all their fault”. Instead, he focused on multiple solutions to the deficit spending problems the USA currently faces. And regardless of one’s opinion of any of the solutions Obama offered, his tone was clearly and repeatedly conciliatory and bi-partisan.
Republican House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan later gave the “official” GOP response. It was notably tempered in its tone. He said that the present huge national debut “is the product of acts by many presidents and many Congresses over many years”. But that non-partisan view disappeared when he switched to blaming Obama and the democrats. “The President and the Democratic Leadership have shown, by their actions, that they believe government needs to increase its size and its reach, its price tag and its power.” Clearly a partisan, divisive statement.
Evidently, he was absent from 2002 to 2006, when GW Bush and his republican-controlled congress ballooned the deficit, spending like drunken sailors on their last night in a french port.
But this was nowhere as blaming, partisan, accusatory or grossly misleading as Republican congresswoman Michelle Bachmann’s Tea Party Express’ SECOND GOP response to Obama’s speech. In it, she blamed Obama and the democrats for the recession and its resultant high unemployment, while neglecting to mention that the recession started in December 2007 under Bush. She blamed Obama and the democrats for the huge deficit increase in the first budget in Obama’s administration…a budget she neglected to explain was developed by out-going GW Bush’s administration just before they left office. She went on to demand full repeal of the new health care law, despite the fact that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that this would increase the deficit, and would hurt people just now beginning to enjoy the new benefits provided by the law that they never had before.
Additionally, she claimed that the creation of the USA was a “miracle”. Couple that with her wildly (weirdly?) revisionist view of American history when she recently said that it was the USA’s founding fathers who ended slavery in the USA (even though by the time slavery was abolished by President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 “Emancipation Proclamation“, most of the founding fathers, many of whom owned slaves themselves, had been dead for at least 40 years!). And she wants to be president?!?
Clearly, Bachmann’s response was divisive. But worse, she managed to interject her own religious dogma into her speech, much as Tea Party activists are prone to do whenever they can. They seem oblivious to the fact that it wasn’t until 1954 during the McCarthy-era-induced communism scare, that Congress passed legislation to add the words “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance as an “in-your-face” affront to the former Soviet Union, which officially had endorsed atheism as national policy. Oh, and by the way, the Soviet Union has been extinct for over 20 years!
In sum, Bachmann speech embraced the “under God” portion of the Pledge of Allegiance while simply ignoring the “indivisible” portion. She also exercised the tried and true practice of the scientifically and logically challenged, i.e., ignoring undesirable facts and replacing them with fabricated hate and fear rationalizations tailored to support one’s personal agenda.
To their credit, many mainstream GOP politicians have attempted to marginalize Bachmann’s comments. Some have actually expressed downright embarrassment at the idea that the GOP seemed to have a “two-headed” response to Obama’s State of the Union speech. They know that much of the Tea Party movement is like a loose cannon that tends to ignore the damage potential they have on the rest of the GOP. And the larger GOP understands that if they can’t somehow absorb the Tea Party into the mainstream, the next election might seem like a brick wall hit at 200MPH…. : : :SPLAT!! : : :
And in the meantime, the democrats are quietly watching. And smiling.