I watched the speech while doing cardio at the gym, reading the speech via closed captioning. I thus focused more on his physical appearance than his tone of voice. The president did not look very happy, more like a husband lecturing his wife for requiring him to attend a family function on the weekend he was supposed to go golfing with his college buddies*. He didn’t want to do what he was doing.
He never seemed to smile, seemed angry at times. He wasn’t talking to us; like that aggrieved spouse, he was lecturing to us.
And he started off by playing the card that served him so well in the 2008 presidential campaign, blaming George W. Bush for creating the problem. Not until the end, did he offer the upside of his approach. He spent the better part of his address, focusing on (his perception of) the downside of the Republican approach, those angry Tea Party extremists, keeping my pal Boehner, you know that otherwise sensible Republican, from compromising.
He engaged in class warfare, wondering why we don’t ask the rich to pay their fair share. (What about having federal workers share in the sacrifice, considering their salaries are considerably higher than those of their counterparts in the private sector?)
He tried to make himself seem like the moderate against these extreme advocates for the wealthy. He was, he claimed, only acting as Ronald Reagan had, wanting the federal government to pay its bills on time. Only he didn’t mention how he had jacked up federal spending in his first two years in office while that great man had done everything possible to hold the line on domestic spending — and did a pretty darn good job considering he faced off against a Democratic Speaker.
He was, he claimed, only acting like other presidents, including the Gipper and the first President Bush while the current crop of Republicans were the real radicals. Heck, even George W. Bush raised the debt ceiling seventeen times (was that what I read in the closed captioning? Perhaps. Checked the transcript; he said seven times not seventeen.). If W raised the debt ceiling that many times, that means he raised it, on average, twice about once a year throughout his presidency (i.e., twice in every Congress). So, why do we need raise it only once during the current Congress?
Oh yea, because, as the president said his speech, if we did that, we’d have to go through this horrible process all over again. And he’d just rather play golf. And speak to his fans.
UPDATE: Over at the Corner, Andrew Stiles offers a nice summary of the speech and joins his colleague Keith Hennessey who said the speech “was notable only for what he did not say: I will veto the Boehner bill.’”
UP-UPDATE: In her insightful analysis, Jennifer Rubin called it “a speech entirely divorced from reality.”
UP-UP-UPDATE: William Kristol asks us to consider . . .
. . .the condescension implicit in the president’s statement—“a term that most people outside of Washington have probably never heard of before.” These “people outside of Washington” are not little children being lectured on an obscure subject by a worldly adult. These people outside Washington are … citizens. Judging by the polls, most of us have opinions about whether, and under what conditions, the debt ceiling should be raised. We don’t seem to be as ignorant as Obama thinks we are of the term or concept of a debt ceiling. But the president assumes we’ve never bothered our pretty little heads about such a thing.