The Right Coast

Editor: Thomas A. Smith
University of San Diego
School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Thursday, January 28, 2010

via instapundit.

I watched the last half of the speech and I must say I didn't much like it, even apart from the content. Were I a GOP Senator or Congressman, I would find it very difficult to sit through what struck me as a patronizing and mendacious speech.  I thought the comments on the Citizens United case were just rude. The Justices are there as guests.  It's just rude to scold them under those circumstances.  I doubt the turnout will be very good from SCOTUS in 2011.  And it was stupid besides.  How is insulting the Court going to help the Obama administration win cases?  And all this in the context of a speech that lectured about how politicians must start being nicer to each other.  Maybe the geniuses in the WH somehow figure the thing to do is to be as insulting as possible to the GOP and the majority of the Court, while seeming to the lower wattage portion of their base to be reaching out.  But anyone would half a brain should be able to figure out that last night's speech was not reaching out.  OTOH maybe it was just clueless and clumsy.

And finally a purely subjective, Peggy Noonanesque comment -- did anybody else get the vibe that this SOTU was just weird, out of kilter, not right in some sorta deep way?  It felt that way to me, like a play that has gone badly wrong and the actors don't know how to bring it back.  Like the whole thing was about to go way off the rails.

| Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference :


If Richard Nixon had said during the 1973 SOTU that, in his opinion, the effect of Roe v. Wade would be that there would be more abortions, and that Congress should do something to address that problem, would we be hearing the same objections about decorum from the political right?

But I agree that last night's speech was off-kilter and certainly not the President at his best. His exasperation with Congress and the rest of Washington was palpable.

Posted by: M.A. | Jan 28, 2010 11:57:11 AM

I agree with M.A., and would add that the GOP has long lost any right to lecture about decorum.

Posted by: Tim Donahue | Jan 28, 2010 3:56:12 PM

Actually, John Scalzi at Whatever, generally an Obama supporter, said much the same thing (and almost the same metaphor)
One word: Eh. More words: It was a bit weird; the rhythm was herky-jerky and the audience didn’t seem to know if it wanted to applaud or not in places, and basically the whole thing felt like school play with the main character thrown off his game by no one else knowing their lines. Note this observation has nothing to do with the content, merely the presentation. But the presentation matters, and this was a little off for me. >>>

Posted by: Linda | Jan 28, 2010 5:12:42 PM

I'm just wondering how long it will be before Americans start questionning his sanity. He reminds me of Blair, and I have deep doubts about that loathsome wee twat's sanity.

Posted by: dearieme | Jan 28, 2010 5:34:03 PM

It would have been entertaining to have seen the Justices rise as one and walk out.

Posted by: km | Jan 29, 2010 8:56:05 AM

M.A.: Isn't the real question whether liberals would have criticized Richard Nixon for excoriating a captive Supreme Court during a State of the Union speech? The answer is obvious. They would have gone bananas.

Your not-so-subtle suggestion that a commentator is hypocritical if he fails to be as tough on his political allies as he is on his political opponents on matters of personal style is silly. If your crazy grandmother is rude, you don't reprimand her in public. But if some other crazy old lady is rude to your grandmother you just might.

Hypocrisy would be suggesting that Obama's political opponents are being hypocritical when you yourself would have criticized a Republican President if the circumstances were reversed.

By the way, someone should point out that Nixon didn't run on a platform of restoring civility in politics.

Posted by: Sock Puppet | Jan 29, 2010 9:05:47 PM

Tim Donahue.....there has never been less "decorum" (not the word I would use) seen that that of the democrats for the past 9 years, and never more shown than that shown by President Bush, who never attacked his political enemies, though they wanted to literally destroy him. Really, the hypocrisy of democrats, and that of your comment, is amazing

Posted by: senorlechero | Jan 29, 2010 9:39:48 PM

senorlechero has it right when it comes to matters of civic courtesy. The vile and intemperate comments from Democratic members of Congress and journalists(even more) toward President Bush had no equal in recent history. His unwilliness to answer in kind reveals the sincerity of his much-mocked Christian beliefs.

Posted by: josil | Jan 30, 2010 8:17:43 PM

This man was a law student, and then a Constitutional Law professor, and he does not know how to read a Supreme Court case?

I would think that some small part of him, something deep within, would feel some sense of disgust at himself for misrepresenting what a S. Ct. decision says TO THE FACES OF THE JUSTICES OF THE SUPREME COURT themselves.

This man wins the hubris prize for recent Presidents, and that's saying something.

Posted by: I Silverman | Jan 31, 2010 12:09:06 PM

The speech was very odd indeed. Although a certain spell exists across the land that holds Mr. Obama to be a terrific speaker he is not. What he is is a very good reader but with a bizarre tennis match head motion -never looking forward- an awkwardly uplifted chin, and an annoying end-of-sentence forced emphasis. This is the best example of the Emperor's Clothes fable in the history of American politics. Take away the teleprompter and let him speak naturally and at length. That is the test of a good speaker. BTW, he is also not a good communicator. Other than campaign slogan sound bites and gaffes (clinging to their guns) what has he ever said that sticks in the memory? Try it yourself or ask a colleague. Empty sack.

Posted by: Mandingo Bacigalupi | Feb 1, 2010 8:05:59 AM

Sock Puppet, I am getting back to this late, but for the record I was not suggesting hypocracy - rather, I really would like to understand whether conservatives' criticisms of the President are the result of a heartfelt feeling that he is a bad person (i.e. demonizing), or something else.

And by the way, I think it's interesting to hear the President's SOTU comments now described as "excoriating a captive Supreme Court." Are you guys really that soft skinned, or is it just the chamber echoing?

Posted by: M.A. | Feb 2, 2010 11:35:20 AM