Wednesday, January 26, 2011
State of the Union 2011 - Some analysis, many links
Tuesday night, President Barack Obama gave his third State of the Union address to Congress. He addressed a myriad of issues, including America's competitiveness in the world economy, education, jobs, infrastructure, and health care reform. This year, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar was in a secure location during the speech to ensure continuity of government in the event of a disaster. Michelle Obama wore a lovely Rachel Roy dress, and the President tried to be funny, although most of his jokes fell flat. Personally, I most enjoyed the one about traveling on high-speed rail without needing a pat-down :).
It was a lofty speech, with the kind of rhetoric we've come to expect from President Obama. He has very talented speechwriters, and probably had a hand in crafting this speech as well. This year's State of the Union was almost exclusively focused on non controversial issues; he did not cover topics such as gun control, which might have been expected after the shooting in Tuscon. In a way, the speech echoed the bipartisan seating plan that many of the Congresspeople adopted for the evening: policy plans straight down the middle, and ideas about patriotism, innovation, and a brighter, better future for the country.
While there weren't any particularly memorable lines, I did enjoy the reference to RFK: "The future is ours to win,” Obama said. “But to get there, we can’t just stand still. As Robert Kennedy told us, 'The future is not a gift. It is an achievement.' Sustaining the American Dream has never been about standing pat. It has required each generation to sacrifice, and struggle, and meet the demands of a new age." I liked this reference as it sort of summed up an important theme of the speech: innovation, investments in education, and growing the economy can bring America a great future.
In sum, I will have to agree with Paul Krugman - meh. It was an okay speech, not the best, not the most inspiring, but probably what the country needed to hear now.
A few more links for perusing:
Patterns of Speech - words used in past speeches, dated by president and amount of usage
Word clouds for Obama's speech and past presidents
SOTU in numbers
GOP Response from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)
The text of Obama's speech
Watch the speech on YouTube