Even if nothing else had happened yesterday, there was little chance President Obama’s fourth State of the Union would be memorable in any way. More than 48 million Americans watched his first SOTU in 2010. Just 42 million watched in 2011. And only 37 million bothered with the 2012 address. Considering that SOTUs rarely move American opinion in any direction, last night was pretty much destined to be a non-event.
Then Chris Dorner happened.
Just hours before Obama was supposed to command the national stage, all of the cable news nets were focused on Big Bear, California, where alleged-cop killer Dorner was reportedly “pinned down” in a remote mountain cabin. As the scheduled time for Obama’s speech approached, only MSNBC switched over to SOTU preview coverage. Fox went with a split screen while CNN was all-Dorner-all-the-time. Then the cabin Dorner was supposedly in, caught fire. All the cable news nets went back to all Dorner. CNN promised to switch over to Obama coverage at 8:30. Then 8:45. Finally at 8:55 they went to Washington. When the television ratings are released later today we’ll find out how many Americans stayed in Big Bear.
Obama’s speech itself was predictable and boring. The only decent moment came when Obama invoked the names of gun violence victims in support of his gun control agenda. And even that legislation will be watered down and carved up with loopholes. To add insult to injury, news broke half way through Obama’s speech that Dorner was dead.
Sen. Marco Rubio’s, R-Fla., response didn’t go much better. He spent a little more time on his own biography,although for Rubio, the messenger is a big part of the message. Unfortunately, at about 11 minutes in, Rubio got a little thirsty and was forced to awkwardly reach of camera for a drink of water. At that point Rubio’s actual message was lost. His Poland Spring water break became the defining moment of his response.
On the bright side, hardly anybody was watching.
From The Washington Examiner
Phil Klein: Obama lays groundwork to bypass Congress in second term
Byron York: Republicans in key 2016 states praise Rubio response
Michael Barone: Obama’s gangster government operates above the law
Other SOTU Reactions
Ezra Klein: “In some ways, what was most noticeable about the speech was what wasn’t in it: Nothing. It was difficult to come up with a single policy favored by Obama’s party but left out of this speech.”
Chris Cillizza: Obama’s decision to save his remarks on guns until the end of the State of the Union, and to aggressively urge a vote on all of his gun proposals were, by far, the boldest portion of his speech. … Obama’s comments on guns will be the lasting legacy of this speech.”
Jonathan Chait: The vast majority of the speech was given over to Obama laying out his vision of the ideal. He laid out scads of new policy ideas, mostly appealing ones – a higher minimum wage, repairing infrastructure, commissions to reform voting, and so on. … I am setting the over/under on the number of these blue-sky proposals that will be passed into law during Obama’s second term at 0.5.
Brian Beutler: The sequester is the largest single threat to the rest of Obama’s agenda, which is premised on the idea that the government can spend the next year fostering a growing economy rather than struggling to prevent a self-inflicted recession.
The Wall Street Journal: The big question of President Obama’s second term is whether he wants to forge bipartisan compromises in the next two years, or whether he wants to spend these years campaigning against Republicans to regain Democratic control of the House in 2014 and then finish his Presidency with another liberal crescendo. Judging by his inaugural address and Tuesday night’s State of the Union, we’re guessing he’s going for Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Douglas Holtz-Eakin: “At a juncture when our country needs real entitlement reform, there was nothing more than vague promises. At a juncture when it needs real tax reform, he can’t even find the definition. And at a time when those reforms are the indispensable foundation of more rapid growth, he remains stuck in central-planning mode.”
James Capretta: The president’s State of the Union address was predictable on a number of levels. … As usual for a State of the Union address, this speech was such a disconnected assortment of ideas that nothing in it really stood out. So the good news is that what the president proposed — a tired and unoriginal call for even more liberal governance — will be long forgotten in a few short weeks.
Fred Barnes: Did I miss something? Or was the State of the Union Address delivered by President Obama last night unusually pedestrian, packed to the gills with clichés, promises, gimmicks, and endless talk of partnerships, goals, challenges, and commissions for which Washington is famous?
In Other News
The New York Times, Bitterly Divided Senate Panel Backs Hagel for Defense: After a combative two-hour debate that tested the bounds of Senate collegiality, the Armed Services Committee on Tuesday approved the nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel as defense secretary on a sharply partisan vote.
McClatchy Newspapers, Cayman account dogs Jacob Lew: President Barack Obama’s pick to head the Treasury Department faces a tough grilling Wednesday from Republicans looking to spotlight his time at Citigroup, the troubled financial institution rescued by taxpayers.
David Dayen explains why Your New Landlord Works on Wall Street.
Think Progress posts Three Charts That Show America Doesn’t Have A Spending Problem.
Jamelle Bouie on why Marco Rubio Can’t Save the GOP.
Joel Kotkin says Blue States are Doubling Down On Suicide Strategy
John McCormack on Obama’s Dubious Claim that Global Warming Caused Superstorm Sandy.
James Pethokoukis on GOP efforts to finally shrink Wall Street’s Too Big To Fail megabanks.