Thursday, January 28, 2010

SOTU Snafu

It's probably not worth rehearsing my policy differences with the President on the particulars of his State of the Union speech, but it's worth pointing out that his harangue against the Supreme Court was an amazingly dumb move. I don't think he earned himself much goodwill from the Court by doing it -- Justice Alito did a sotto voce version of Joe Wilson by mouthing "not true" at one point.

Even people who typically carry water for Democrats understood this was a bad idea -- for example, Linda Greenhouse of the New York Times:

This time, Justice Alito shook his head as if to rebut the president’s characterization of the Citizens United decision, and seemed to mouth the words “not true.” Indeed, Mr. Obama’s description of the holding of the case was imprecise. He said the court had “reversed a century of law.”

The law that Congress enacted in the populist days of the early 20th century prohibited direct corporate contributions to political campaigns. That law was not at issue in the Citizens United case, and is still on the books. Rather, the court struck down a more complicated statute that barred corporations and unions from spending money directly from their treasuries — as opposed to their political action committees — on television advertising to urge a vote for or against a federal candidate in the period immediately before the election. It is true, though, that the majority wrote so broadly about corporate free speech rights as to call into question other limitations as well — although not necessarily the existing ban on direct contributions.

So let's tote up the damage:

1) He insults a coequal branch of government (the judiciary) in the home of another coequal branch (the legislature), drawing the quiet ire of a Justice who will be in position long after the President has returned to Hyde Park;

2) He gets the facts of the case wrong; and

3) He complicates the life of Elena Kagan, his Solicitor General, to score a cheap point.

As we've all learned, President Obama has a lot to learn. Here's yet another suggestion that I'm certain the President will not accept, but I offer it anyway. Every administration engages in some measure of demagoguery, but smart administrations job out the demagoguery to underlings. Let Axelrod to this stuff, Mr. President -- it diminishes your office.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Or he should get Niedemeyer to do it...He's a sneaky *&@#@

Mr. D said...

LOL, Anon.

Oh boy, is this great!

Anonymous said...

Barry Newman is .... Petrocelli.

Mr. D said...

Indeed he is, Anon. And Darren McGavin is Kolchak, The Night Stalker.

R.A. Crankbait said...

But who is Ellie Light?

Gino said...

ellie light is every where you need her to be.

Anonymous said...

Ellie Light is Ellie May Clampett's married name. Not very original with the writing, but you should see her with her critters.

Night Writer said...

Did someone mention my name? Oh, Night STALKER. Never mind.