WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

Did President's "State of the Union" (or responses) alter the political calculus?

Did you watch (or listen to) President Obama's State of the Union address? What about Senator Marco Rubio's official Republican response or (available on far fewer media outlets) Senator Rand Paul's response on behalf of the Tea Party?

As the White House had telegraphed beforehand, parts of the President's address really looked past the Republican dissenters in the chamber, although not on everything.

The emotional, gripping parts of the speech came near the end, first with the President's call to ease the voting process, with a shout-out to Desiline Victor, 102, who had waited hours to vote in Miami. She came as a guest of the First Lady. House Speaker John Boehner came under attack from some liberal bloggers for not standing during the standing O for a 102-year-old woman! (Delaware's Senator Chris Coons has championed legislation to ease the voting process.)

Then, during the grand finale, what is most likely to be remembered from this State of the Union: Over and over again, the President recalled the victims of recent mass shootings: "Gabby Giffords deserves a vote..." "The families of Newtown deserve a vote..." "The families of Aurora deserve a vote..." And so on. Powerful political theater. But did you notice that the "deserve a vote" line almost acknowledges that much of the Administration's gun control legislation probably won't pass?

Then you had the opposition responses: Certainly, Senator Rand Paul delivered more passionate, energetic response than Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal in 2009. Yes, some of it was G.O.P. boilerplate, but Rubio clearly tried to differentiate himself and his party from the affluence of Mitt Romney. Rubio probably was at his best as he solemnly declared his opposition to President Obama's agenda did not stem from a desire "to protect the rich", but because he (Rubio) wanted to protect his neighbors -- immigrants, retirees, everyday workers. Message: The G.O.P. really cares about the middle-class.

Unfortunately for Rubio, he just HAD to grab that bottle of water - way off screen - which precipitated an eruption in social media.

None of the TV cable networks aired Rand Paul's address. Not unexpectedly, Senator Paul played to a different audience, serving up red meat on budget cuts, gun control, drone strikes, and immigration.

Back, to the President's State of the Union, here's POLITICO's reporting on the President's repeated appeals that the victims of recent rampages "deserve a vote"...


From NATIONAL JOURNAL: "5 Things Obama Tried to Say During his State of the Union Address -- But Didn't"...


Britain's GUARDIAN newspaper offers an intriguing comparative analysis on how the linguistic complexity of Presidents' State-of-the-Union addresses has declined over the decades. (Not a great shock, considering how these addresses were originally intended as written documents before modern live broadcast, and considering how modern Presidents deliver focus-group-tested lines targeted at "Middle America".)


Posted at 7:40am on February 13, 2013 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 10:24am

From my perspective, the Republican address is not really a "response" as it was written well BEFORE the GOP (or anybody) heard Obama's speech. A true "response" speech would be written only after they heard Obama speak.

Shame on the TV networks for not allowing the public to hear what Rand Paul had to say from the Tea Party perspective. Another example of the bias in the media.

Mike from Delaware
Wed, Feb 13, 2013 10:27am
I didn't think Obama's speech was bad. It was a wish list. He presented it well, for my ear. He isn't going to get most of it, but I couldn't argue with what he said, especially where he said these proposals wouldn't raise the debt. Granted the details are what's important; this was simply pie-in-the-sky stuff.

What I don't get, is the big upset over Rubio taking a swig of water. I'm sure there was a glass of water sitting near Prez Obama, if he needed it. Better Rubio take a swig of water than start coughing and clear his throat. Would it been more acceptable if it had been a glass of water rather than a bottle of water? If you'd heard his speech on the radio, and there was no TV coverage or online coverage, we'd not be having this discussion today. To me, it's a big nothing.

Now as far as what Rubio said, he presented his points clearly and well. He offered no real ideas, just let's create an economy, that helps the middle-class. No examples on how to do that, that I heard. But he's a Republican so I guess we know that he means, give tax-breaks to the wealthy; put the burden on the backs of the middle-class. He didn't say anything new, but he said clearly and is well-spoken. Will he bring Hispanic votes to the GOP? Probably not many as he has the GOP viewpoint on immigration, which he did state last night.

I'd keep an eye on Dr. Ben Carson for 2016. He is far more interesting and fun to listen to. He has far more charisma than either Rubio or Rand Paul (that was Clinton's - that is Bill Clinton's - best asset that I believe made the difference for his success).

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 11:52am

The Westminster Dog Show was on TV last night. Needless to say, that is what my wife and dog watched with me last night.

If it had been the Queen and the State opening of Parliament, we would have had a fight over the TV. Her Majesty simply outlines what her government will propose during the session of parliament. It is not a TV special meant to further dumb down the voters.

The fact that the Republicans presented two different responses sums up the future. The G.O.P. will be unable to fight the occupant of the Oval Office(s).

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 2:12pm
For the first time I didn't listen to the Republican response. As Jim H says, it doesn't matter. Only after I saw the hilarious grabbing for a water without taking his eyes off the teleprompter, did I go back to see this underage joke that is the best current Republicans can come up with.

You can't win on a no-tax program. If he'd said we are going to tax every penny out of the top one-percent, and then give it directly to the rest of America, he could have gotten America's attention.

I've heard some right-wing talk this morning questioning the right of people shot or killed with guns, deserving a vote on gun control. "Oh, so they now deserve a vote and billionaires don't, is that it?", was the quote.

They seem to think that not having a vote serves their interest. That is curious because it is counter to what they say, that gun-control is dead in Congress.

Perhaps it isn't. Perhaps they are frightened that if they do vote to allow assault weapons to continue tearing apart tiny children's skulls, if they do vote to allow 100 rounds to enter a 6-year-old's body within a minute, if they do allow dumb rednecks to keep their guns, at the expense of sophisticated, well-read, wealthy donors, they just may lose in the next election when their allegiance to a secret non-sensical cult, the NRA, becomes a liability, and not an asset...

They are too scared to vote, because they know the NRA is completely wrong on this issue; they know America hates the NRA with vile passion; they know you can't win against a cute little child, dead with your name written on each one of those bullets killing them. They know...

But yet, they are too chicken, too yellow, too scared, too girly, too timid, too cowardly, too sissy, too spooked, too cowed, too mousy, too terrorized, to vote against the NRA...

It is a good ploy on Obama's part. Put them on record so their districts can then decide for us all, if children don't matter as long as one can have their assault weapons and 100-round clips....

Because if you think the NRA has power and ignore this simple fact that all their backed candidates lost in 2012, just wait after they vote against children's right to live, and see what will happen to them and their supported candidates in 2014....

We will get assault bans and limits on clips.. Either now, or with a completely Democratic Congress after 2014..

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 7:29pm
I didn't waste my time listening to the liar-in-chief but rather spent it productively watching two episodes of NCIS.

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 10:59pm
Hope you had some pizza with that NCIS....

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 12:20pm
Rubio's performance tanked his chances as the GOP choice, Rand Paul just may be the front runner for the 2016 race (though that is a looong ways away)...and our dear leader has continued to lie about our economy, gun control and immigration.

kavips, the NRA is more popular right now than the president or Congress...even NPR has reported these facts.

Americans are more interested in the ECONOMY than they are gun control. NONE of the innocents in any of the recent mass murders would have been saved with the AWB and intellectually honest people will admit this to be true. It's HIPPA and other mental health records that need to be released (or those with mental health issues red-flagged in the system) to prevent them from passing any background checks).

...and sadly, Tuesday night was the pathetic NCIS LA...that show is pathetic!

Allan Loudell
Thu, Feb 14, 2013 2:06pm
To teatime---

If I had been calling the shots at a network, I would've favored live coverage of Rand Paul's speech on "news value: grounds. As I suggested in my initial post, this was an early audition for two men widely thought to be jockeying for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2016.

That said, let's remember the "Tea Party" is NOT a real political party in the sense of appearing on the ballot as a party with a separate line. Furthermore the "Tea Party" is a constellation of groups.

So let me put the shoe on the other foot: Let's say we had a Republican President. What if a progressive alliance was jockeying for influence with "establishment" Democrats? What if that group requested airtime?

Actually, would the country NOT be better served to see a couple of responses from minor parties that do appear on the ballot in many states -- just to insure diversity?

So we'd get a Libertarian Party response; a Constitution Party response; an American Party response; a Socialist Party USA response, etc.

Allan Loudell

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 8:05pm
Kavips: Because I deliver pizza 3 days a week, I try to avoid it when I'm off. Not a particularly healthy lifestyle.

EarlGrey: I wholeheartedly agree with you about NCIS LA. I exclusively watch only the original version. The new Hawaii Five-O is a totally different story, however.

Mike from Delaware
Thu, Feb 14, 2013 10:18pm
EarlGrey said, " It's HIPPA and other mental health records that need to be released (or those with mental health issues red-flagged in the system) to prevent them from passing any background checks)."

I totally agree. In each of these school shootings, it was not a criminal, but a nut-job who went into a school and shot up the kids and staff.

I've watched NCIS LA, but not each week. It isn't nearly as good as the original. To add insult to injury, that was a rerun that I had previously viewed. So my wife and I turned off the TV and read until 9 p.m. and then watched the Prez on PBS, and watched Rubio the next day online. Tried to watch Rand Paul online, but that website wouldn't play properly.

Fri, Feb 15, 2013 11:11am
Mike: Another solution to the slow motion mass murders (heard that reference on NPR this morning) in our inner-cities would be the actual PROSECUTION of those owning illegal long guns/handguns and dramatically increased penalties for any crime committed with the aid of a firearm.
That makes a lot more sense to me than disarming law-abiding citizens.

NCIS (original) and Bluebloods are about the only shows I actually attempt to see each week...I also dig Psych (on USAnetwork) but they have a really short season of shows.

Mike from Delaware
Fri, Feb 15, 2013 7:40pm
EarlGrey: I agree that the actual PROSECUTION of those owning illegal long guns/handguns and dramatically increased penalties for any crime committed with the aid of a firearm too would be another thing to do that would help make a difference. That, and the loosening up the HIPPA rules to help the background checks keep the nut-jobs from buying guns.

Those two ideas together would make a difference, lower the risk considerable; and yet not take a gun/rifle from any sane, legal, non-criminal Americans. Now all we've got to do is convince both the left- and the right-wings of both parties.

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