Responding to President Obama's State of the Union speech, BigGovernment.com editor-in-chief Mike Flynn writes:
Obama seemed to have a gift for perfectly capturing the tone and mood of the public. It may seem a tired cliche now, but his speeches did much to inspire the hope people attached to his candidacy. Even rather vague or pedestrian phrases seemed to soar in his gifted hands. I had accepted it as a given that, if his political fortunes were ever down, Obama would be able to reverse his troubles by pulling just the right speech from his rhetorical bag of tricks.
Obama's State of the Union address last night was not just overly long and dull, it was totally tone-deaf politically. Coming on the heels of a political upset in Massachusetts, with deteriorating poll numbers and anxious members of his own party, Obama badly needed a home-run to change the political dynamics. He struck out.
Flynn has every right to say that he finds the speech "overly long and dull," but he offers no evidence whatsoever to support his claim that it was "totally tone-deaf politically." If the speech was such a political disaster, surely poll data would show that the American people rejected it. It does not.
Of the randomly selected 522 speech viewers questioned by CBS, 83 percent said they approved of the proposals the President made. Just 17 percent disapproved - typical of the high support a president generally receives among those who choose to watch the State of the Union. In January 2002 - when George W. Bush gave the State of the Union Address a year into his presidency - 85% of speech watchers approved.
Six in 10 of those asked said they thought Mr. Obama conveyed a clear plan for creating jobs, and seven in 10 said his plans for the economy will help ordinary Americans. Another seven in 10 said President Obama has the same priorities for the country as they have.
The same individuals were interviewed both before and after Wednesday's State of the Union, and after the speech, 70 percent said Mr. Obama shares their priorities for the country, up from 57 percent before the speech.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey indicated that 48 percent of speech watchers had a very positive reaction, with three in 10 saying they had a somewhat positive response and 21 percent with a negative response.
Two-thirds of speech-watchers who were questioned said the president will succeed in improving the economy, with nearly six in 10 saying he'll succeed in creating jobs.
As Eric Boehlert has noted, the media seem eager to disappear last night's polling results; it doesn't fit the story that they want to tell.
From a January 28 entry on Andrew Breitbart's BigGovernment.com:
Watching Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden sitting behind Obama, I was reminded of proud parents watching their child take his first steps. I half expected Nancy to offer him an animal cracker and a sippy cup of apple juice for his efforts.
So, you may be wondering, what was missing?
Gravitas, for one thing. Sure, there was the upward tilt of the head that is part and parcel of every Obama speech. I guess he thinks we enjoy being able to count his nostril hairs. But the entire speech had the tone of a parent lecturing an errant child. All that was missing was a wagging finger and the threat of no dessert for a week if little Billy didn't stop dragging his feet and clean his room.
Apparently, the Media Research Center believes there is no such thing as ideological bias at Fox News -- even when it's irrefutably demonstrated that there is.
A January 27 MRC press release touting the Public Policy Polling survey finding that Fox News had the highest trust rating among TV viewers quoted chief Brent Bozell as saying: 'The proof is in the pudding. Americans want balanced news, not liberal advocacy. Fox offered them 'fair and balanced' journalism, and America has embraced them."
Just one little problem: Fox is not "fair and balanced" -- and the MRC knows it. The day before Bozell's press release was issued, the MRC highlighted a Center for Media and Public Affairs study finding that, while most major news outlets were, on the whole, almost evenly balanced in negative and positive coverage of President Obama's first year, Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier was much more harsh -- only 22 percent positive coverage of Obama and a whopping 78 percent negative.
MRC research director Rich Noyes -- a former CMPA employee who "helped [to] develop the methodology the Center uses for tallying good and bad press for presidents" -- somehow didn't see this as media bias. Rather, Noyes claimed, Fox News was merely providing "historically normal scrutiny" of Obama, because it was "roughly equal to that provided by the old networks in the past."
But the MRC has historically portrayed overly negative coverage of Republican presidents and their causes, such as the Iraq war, as examples of media bias. Now that Fox News has been caught exhibiting the same kind of negativity, using methodology one of its own employees developed, it's suddenly no longer bias but "historically normal scrutiny."
It's no surprise that Bozell would slavishly adhere to right-wing talking points to declare Fox News "fair and balanced" -- never mind that Public Policy Polling made no correlation between trust and balance. As PPP director Tom Jensen pointed out: "A generation ago Walter Cronkite was the most trusted man in the country because of his neutrality. Now people trust Fox the most precisely because of its lack of neutrality."
But it seems the MRC as a whole is just as dedicated to those same talking points, to the extent that it will redefine and whitewash its own methodology and research to avoid having to hang that dreaded B-word on Fox News -- a channel on which MRC employees make regular appearances.
From Sean Hannity's Twitter feed on January 28:
Politico's John Harris mocks President Obama's State of the Union health care comments:
His tepid rallying cry: "As temperatures cool, I want everyone to take another look at the plan we've proposed."
That just isn't honest. That line -- quite obviously -- was not intended to be a "rallying cry." This is a "rallying cry":
I will not walk away from these Americans, and neither should the people in this chamber. (Applause.)
And this is a "rallying cry":
Here's what I ask Congress, though: Don't walk away from reform. Not now. Not when we are so close. Let us find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people. (Applause.) Let's get it done. Let's get it done. (Applause.)
You can tell those lines are the rallying cries from the words, but you can also tell from the fact that the rallying cries were met with applause.
But Harris wanted to call Obama's comments "tepid," so he picked a relatively mundane line and falsely claimed it was intended to be the speech's "rallying cry."
That's obviously inane; you can make any speech look tepid if you select its most mundane line and pretend it was mean to be a soaring call to action. Here, let's apply the John Harris technique to another famous speech: Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech was tepid -- just look at its rallying cry: "In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check." Wow, that's a bland rallying cry!
You can use such tactics to belittle a speech, but you shouldn't -- because it's completely dishonest.
This morning, BigGovernment.com contributor Kyle Olson offered a rousing defense of his colleague James O'Keefe, the undercover ACORN video auteur currently under parents' house arrest after getting pinched by the Feds for allegedly trying to tamper with Sen. Mary Landrieu's phone lines. Olson specifically defended O'Keefe against the "hypocritical" left, writing:
The alleged crimes committed by ACORN employees in the O'Keefe and Giles videos were excused, and even rationalized, by the Left. But they don't apply the same level of patience and understanding for O'Keefe and Company. Even worse, they're jumping to conclusions about their guilt, and the nature of their alleged crime.
OK, so jumping to conclusions about guilt is a bad, bad thing to do. With that in mind, let's take a look back at what BigGovernment.com contributor Kyle Olson wrote in December about the report issued by former Massachusetts attorney general Scott Harshbarger, which found no evidence that the ACORN employees involved in the O'Keefe video sting had acted illegally:
One of Harshbarger's most startling conclusions was that ACORN Housing Corp. employees committed no crimes when they were caught on video repeatedly giving advice to a couple posing as a pimp and prostitute. He even suggests that the employees may have been represented in a false light, and were not as guilty as they appeared on video.
Oh my... It seems that Kyle Olson jumped to a conclusion about the guilt of ACORN employees. Not only that, he considered them guilty even though, unlike O'Keefe, they hadn't been charged with an actual crime.
That's not to say that hypocrisy like this from a Breitbart outfit is at all surprising. "Jumping to conclusions" before the facts are in is pretty much their business model.
Deep thoughts from ABC's Rick Klein, under the headline, "Obama's Speech: Longer Despite Fewer Interruptions" [emphasis added]:
It's not the most scientific way to measure a president's popularity. But our producers at ABC tallied up the ovations and found some slippage from year to year.
Last February, in the president's first address to a Joint Session of Congress, he received applause some 65 times, including five standing ovations, over 51 minutes.
Last night, over some 70 minutes, there were 56 interruptions for clapping. But 19 times, at least some members of the House and Senate -- usually Democrats -- rose to their feet.
That's right, Klein wrote an item detailing how Obama included 9 fewer applause lines in his speech last night. For Klein, that's news.
Oh, and you know what else is SOTU news? John McCain's reaction, of course. And specifically John McCain's reaction to the applause lines:
Intriguingly, after the speech last night, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., rolled his eyes at all the interruptions, calling them "juvenile." Americans' attention spans, he said, are less than half as long as the president's speech last night.
He told ABC News that if he had been elected president, he would have asked the House speaker and Senate majority leader to ask members of Congress to sit silently through his State of the Union, and hold their applause to the end.
At ABC News, it's intriguing that the guy who lost in an electoral landslide two Novembers ago, claims that if he were president he'd do things differently. He'd make people hold their applause until the end of the SOTU address, even though members have Congress have been clapping their way through it for, oh, more than half-a-century.
UPDATED: According to CBS polling, 83% of viewers approved of Obama's SOTU proposals. But in its extensive round-up of SOTU reaction articles and columns, in which it linked to more than 36 dozen items, the Note forgot to link to any of the polling results from last night; results which gave Obama high marks for the speech.
Maybe the The Note was too busy interviewing the guy who lost to Obama in 2008.
Despite being firmly stuck in the first two decades of the 20th century, Glenn Beck's history-mangling machine is chugging along at full-steam, reinventing facts at will to demonize the progressive movement. On Tuesday he smeared Teddy Roosevelt as anti-Constitution, on Monday he said George Bernard Shaw's pro-eugenics rhetoric spoke for all progressives, and last Friday he tied the entire progressive movement to the genocidal policies of communist dictators.
Last night, he set his sights on Woodrow Wilson and the income tax:
BECK: Woodrow Wilson, this is an evil S.O.B. Man, you need to read about Wilson. Bad dude. He passed the Revenue Act of 1913. Blatantly unconstitutional, but people let it slide because it was only going to be on the rich. [Glenn Beck, 1/27/10]
It's true that Woodrow Wilson signed into law the Revenue Act of 1913, which established a federal income tax to offset revenue losses from the bill's prescribed reduction in tariff duties. However, a federal tax on income had been deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1895. So what happened in the intervening years that allowed Congress and the president to enact this law? The Sixteenth Amendment.
Proposed, passed by Congress, and ratified by the states during the administration of Wilson's predecessor, William Howard Taft, the amendment empowered Congress to "lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration." The passage of the amendment overruled the 1895 Supreme Court decision, and in 1916 the court upheld the constitutionality of the Revenue Act of 1913 and the federal income tax it established. Several circuit court rulings since then have reached the same conclusion.
So when Beck says the Revenue Act of 1913 was "blatantly unconstitutional," he is either a) relying on precedent that was overturned almost a century ago, b) unaware of the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution, or c) lying.
From Fox Nation, accessed on January 28: