President Hits Homer, Jindal Fouls Out
From my perspective, there were two great speeches last night. The first was the masterful speech delivered by President Obama to a joint session of Congress, and the other was the “we’re sticking to our guns no matter what anybody else wants” speech tepidly delivered by Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana. One might wonder why I would enjoy both speeches equally. It’s actually very simple. In an effort to be more bi-partisan in my writing, I feel that it is time that we appreciate Republicans for being Republicans. They’re easier to mock that way. And finally Americans are getting what the Republican Party is really for and what it has always been for: the BIG GUY!
President Obama delivered a tour de force last night as he deftly reminded the American people where we are and entreated us to follow him to a better place. He unashamedly returned to the promises that he made to the American people during his campaign, removing any doubts that he understands that he won the election because of his stand on the direction that he envisions for our nation. He did not run from the healthcare issue, vowing to tackle it this year instead of putting it off. He did not hide from the very real problems facing our educational system: crumbling schools and underpaid teachers leading to underachievement by our youth; not to mention the ever-rising cost of college tuition that is closing the door on a whole future generation of citizens.
While owning up to the difficulty posed by an economic meltdown handed to him by President Bush and his rubber-stamp Republican Congressional allies, President Obama dared to impart hope and inspiration to us as a people that, given time, our national ship will right itself. It was the perfect balance of reality and inspiration that we as a nation are looking for in our leaders. And we must not overlook his entreaty to our youth that to drop out of high school is not only to quit on themselves but to quit on their nation. What an ingenious way to remind our youth that they have responsibilities beyond their teen years and must understand that they are the leaders of tomorrow and must prepare for that day. Even the recalcitrant Republicans jumped to their feet on that one.
While standing his ground on the idea that spending is stimulus and must be done in order to steer us out of the ditch that we have been left in by the Republicans, President Obama clearly proclaimed that we must bail the banks out of the big mess they have dragged themselves into and us along with them. He reminded a wary American electorate that he “gets it” that their anger towards the banks and Wall Street is well-founded, while tackling any misconception that punishing them “to death” will be a constructive solution to the problem. He reminded us that the failure of banks to be able to make loans to home buyers and small businesses will further crash our economy. “It’s not for the banks,” he says. “It’s for the people.” He is so right. However, in response to the concerns of Americans about the behavior of the bankers after the first bailout – asked for and managed by the Bush Administration, let us not forget – he warned them to behave themselves because he would have Vice President Biden watching them very carefully. “Nobody messes with Joe,” he said. And anyone who has watched Joe Biden on the morning talk shows during the Iraq war knows that he is a bulldog when he sees a mess.
“An overwhelming 80% of the American people approved of President Obama’s economic plan, while a pitiful 17% agreed with the position of the Republicans. “
MSNBC, where I viewed the speeches, ran an interesting approval/disapproval line along the bottom of the screen depicting how McCain voters received the speech as opposed to how Obama voters rated it. The lines during the President’s speech were almost indistinguishable as they continually intertwined near the top of the chart, often soaring to the very top. The same was not true when the two groups viewed Bobby Jindal’s Republican response. The McCain voters’ approval registered in the mid-range of agreement while the Obama voters’ line hovered near the centerline between approval and disapproval and often dropped below that line. The “snap” polls released this morning were startling in their results, confirming the meters run by MSNBC. An overwhelming 80% of the American people approved of President Obama’s economic plan, while a pitiful 17% agreed with the position of the Republicans.
I would like to believe that my stiff-necked Senators, Kay Bailey Hutchinson and John Cornyn, along with my equally stiff-necked US Representative Kevin Brady would learn something from these results. They all used to be proud to be “George Bush Republicans,” but their party-first inflexibility is making our state irrelevant on the national political scene. But, on the other hand, I am both amused and heartened by the fact that they are finally exposing themselves for what they are: Big Business Republicans who don’t have the first idea of the needs of their constituents. Their George W. Bush-style stubbornness gives me hope that my fellow Texans will finally see their beloved Republican Party for what it is. It certainly doesn’t give a flip about regular people.
But I do not wish to leave without a few words regarding Governor Jindal. Not since Sarah Palin have I seen and heard a more high-school-student-worthy speech. His theme, America Can Do Anything, was repeated over and over – and, yes, over and over and over – again, as he delivered the message that the Republican Party is counting on the American citizens on an individual basis to dig themselves out of the mess that they find themselves in after eight lonnnggg years of Republican rule. He tells us we cannot count on the US Government to help us as demonstrated by the shameful performance of the Bush Administration during the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Hello! A small Republican government that didn’t believe that it should do anything to help those in dire straits WAS the problem.
Of course, this should come as no surprise as Jindal joins Haley Barber of Mississippi and Mark Sanford of South Carolina, creating a triumvirate of poverty-stricken states refusing to take Federal stimulus money to help his own people who find themselves unemployed. Being from The South myself, I’ve seen it all my life. The attitude displayed is common down here. “Get off your lazy ass and get a job! Oh, no jobs? TOO BAD FOR YOU! When’s the next football game?” The Republicans are “counting” on the American people to pull themselves up by the bootstraps and quit – how was it Phil Graham of Texas put it? Oh, yes, “Quit whining.”
So what do we see here? A Democrat Administration and Congress moving as quickly as they can to address a very real crisis that is hitting the American people being opposed by a Republican minority that is doing everything it can to get in the way. I seem to remember Republican Senators dashing out onto the Capitol steps several times to proclaim that the Democrats were nothing but obstructionists when Bush stacked the federal courts, but it seems that they now see something noble in obstructionism. So should we attempt to reach them through logic and stop them in their determination to make a hard right turn as a party, appealing to that 17% base they still have? I say not. The Republicans are finally showing their true colors to the American people, and it appears that the American people don’t care for what they see. So I say, let them choke on cornbread as they continue on their self-destructive path.
KEEP FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT!