A reach inside the Political Junkie mailbag for some reader feedback:
On President Obama and last night's State of the Union message, Janet Stephens of Berkeley, Calif., writes:
I thought it was a great speech. Although I have been very downcast lately because of the economy and apparent failure of any progressive agenda's being advanced, Obama's speech gave me renewed hope. He is a great speaker because he isn't afraid to acknowledge the truth even if it puts him or others in a bad light. He acknowledged that his first year has been difficult and that he has made mistakes, especially in not explaining health care reform to people. He also acknowledged the truth of the decline of the middle class and its roots in a "no tax and spend" philosophy of the "zeros" and the bubble created by greed and speculation. I think it is essential to keep reminding people of what brought us to where we are now. And he stood up for health care reform and clean energy, which we desperately need.
Sandra Seaton of East Lansing, Mich., liked it as well:
I was quite moved by the closing words of President Obama's State of the Union Address. He spoke to higher ideals. Summed things up beautifully.I thought his speech was brilliant. I wonder sometimes about these polls. I've never been called by a pollster.
From Phyllis Calkins of New York, N.Y.:
Every time I think that health care reform is dead, President Obama lifts up my spirits. His speech tonight was a call to action, an optimistic message that progressives everywhere should be listening to. If Congress would stop their monkeying around they could pass this thing!
Kenneth Adamson of Ithaca, N.Y., saw it differently:
It sounded more like a George Soros-ACORN pep rally than a State of the Union speech.
Phyllis Flattery of Sunbury, Ohio, disagreed with something I said on Weekend Edition Sunday:
Although I've always had the highest regard for you, this morning I couldn't believe your evaluation of Obama's first year. No achievements! I did not hear you mention his administration's reactions to the housing crisis, to the banking crisis, or to the economic downturn, including the job market crisis. Not a word! Only health and cap-and-trade issues are what's bringing down his ratings? I must have been asleep!
Chris Johnson of Milwaukee is upset with the lack of civility in politics:
Why is it suddenly acceptable for our legislators to be downright rude during presidential addresses? Whole parties never heckled George Bush when he spoke to both chambers, and a lot of what he said was ridiculously hard to swallow. In my opinion, it's flagrant racism. And I don't understand why we aren't more upset by it. It needs to stop! Whatever you think of the man and his politics, the position he holds commands RESPECT.
Jonathan Levy of Chicago sees a possible solution for the recent Supreme Court decision on corporate spending in campaigns:
Would there be any reason Congress could not tax (possibly even at 100% or more) such spending and use the proceeds to fund public financing of campaigns — possibly even directed specifically to the candidates in that particular race? I have long advocated that approach to campaign donations. Give as much as you like but know that you are funding a race, not a candidate. If you believe more light on a race will tend to help your candidate, you will give. If you believe your candidate would tend not to do well in a better-funded race, you will not.
Jim Prah is more of a cynic when it comes to the issue of money and politics:
The decision reminds me of Will Rogers' quote, "We have the best congress money can buy." Personally, I feel that it would now be less painful if we just auctioned off the seats and not bother with elections if there is such a stain contaminating the elections. At least the Congress should attach logos to their clothing like NASCAR so that we know who is sponsoring them.
Seriously, I am appalled that Corporations can be regarded as persons and entitled to free speech. It follows that if they are regarded as individuals then they should be individuals under criminal statutes as well and be sentenced to jail when they commit felonies.
Syl Daniels of Tacoma, Wash. says the court decision ...
... is the most under-reported and most likely significant event in decades regarding money and politics. I think NPR and everyone else missed how much this will change the way politics is run, and for the worse. I am very very pessimistic about the future of political campaigns because of this decision.
I said I would never mention the name of that guy from North Carolina again, but that didn't stop Becky Page of Rockford, Mich.:
I enjoyed your blog post about John Edwards. Although I was never, for mostly vague and nebulous reasons, taken in by him, I was nevertheless disappointed.
And now he's got a nearly 2-year-old daughter who will come to find out, and have to wrestle with the fact, that her "father," "sperm donor," or what-have-you, denied his role in her beginnings. What is this, The Jerry Springer Show?? I can understand that there might be many understandable reasons for succumbing to the temptation to deny an extramarital affair. But to deny paternity, with the combination of the high political office he sought and the future fallout when an innocent child will be told the truth of Edwards's unwillingness to man-up, as it were...well, I am a bit disgusted.
Baceliza Monroe of Edinburg, Texas wrote about the Massachusetts Senate race:
I do not live in Massachusetts, therefore I did not vote, but I am sure that at some of the people in Massachusetts feel the same way I feel: I like President Obama and supported him, but I have become increasingly disillusioned with him for one very simple reason: He said he was going to bring transparency to Washington and has not done that at all. The negotiations for the health care bill were supporse to be televised on C-Span. The president made that claim over and over again, and the negotiations were conducted behind closed doors (at least the negotiations between the Senate and the House). To me that was like Bush 1 stating that there would be "no new takes." This fact is the line that our President has crossed that has made me view him in a totally different light and no one seems to be addressing this issue. I truly feel betrayed. I thought he would be the one who would be able to stand up Congress.
And finally, Paul Luiso of San Jose, Calif., had this to say about congressional efforts to curb the deficit:
I just heard about Judd Gregg [R-NH] and Kent Conrad's [D-ND] plan to create a commitee to deal with the economy. They are talking about a Supermajority to make anything happen. This sounds like just more Washinton smoke and mirrors. They will NEVER get anything through like that and they know it; they just want to appear to be trying. All they are doing right now is trying my patience!