What Was Said — And Left Unsaid

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You may remember the 2010 State of the Union address and the — shall we say, awkwardness — when President Obama challenged the Supreme Court justices, to their faces, for the Citizens United decision. He called it “wrong” and “bad for democracy,” as Justice Samuel Alito shook his head and appeared to say, “Not true.”

President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington. January 2012. (AP Photo/Saul Loeb, Pool)
President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012, as Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner, right, listen. (AP/Saul Loeb)

Super PAC watchdogs and campaign transparency advocates at the Sunlight Foundation blogged on Tuesday that they hoped the president might take up the issue again in this election year. They wrote:

“The issue is still rife for Presidential engagement, though — people hate the Citizens United decision, and it should be easy to rail against negative ads and dark money in our elections.

The issue could be awkward for Obama, whose former staffers started their own super PAC to aid in his re-election. Even if Obama and his party are to be the beneficiaries of the often secret, unlimited contributions they have warned us about in the past, the President (sic) still has a responsibility to push the issue.”

Tuesday night, although Obama mentioned the “corrosive influence of money in politics,” he limited his remarks to the money bundlers and lobbyists* — and not the moneymen themselves.

Of course, what presidential address in an election year doesn’t double-serve as a campaign speech? As Doyle McManus writes in The LA Times, this year’s 65-minute speech was a “blue-collar speech, aimed largely at the swing voters Obama most needs to woo — middle- and low-income workers still struggling in the recession’s wake.

“To make his case, Obama even borrowed a few issues from the Republican candidates who have been excoriating him — an entire agenda of economic populism that had, until now, received relatively slight attention from the White House. He called for a new drive to attract manufacturing jobs back from overseas, a major plank of Rick Santorum’s campaign. He promised to get tough on unfair trade practices in China, a major plank of Mitt Romney’s campaign. And he called for much more domestic production of oil and gas, a favorite plank of every Republican’s campaign.”

And when the president wasn’t co-opting GOP policy positions, he seemed to be obliquely dissing them. The New York Times’ Matt Landler observed that Romney “was the unspoken adversary in Mr. Obama’s call for a more equitable society” and that:

“[M]uch of the president’s message was clearly intended to push back at his Republican rivals and their critiques of his record… And he flatly rejected the contention of Mr. Romney, Mr. Gingrich and other Republicans that he is presiding over a country in decline.”

“’Anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned,” the president said, “doesn’t know what they’re talking about.”


*Speaking of lobbyists, Abby Phillips’ piece in Politico about the annual lobbying that takes place around the SOTU is worth reading. And you can see which groups got the nod for inclusion in this Washington Post interactive breakdown that visualizes the speech.

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  • leftofcenter

    How can Obama actually get “tough” on China? They’re our biggest creditor and we can never pay our debt off.

    Unfortunately, there’s really nothing new here. All that matters is winning.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe he could get tough on Apple over Foxxcomm? That’s the rub. Many of the industries comprising Chinese manufacturing are ultimately owned by the Oligarchy here. Chinese authorities are employed as Lords of Discipline. And the Chinese labor produced profits American corporations choose to report in part are what keep stocks inflated. So slave labor is now “creating” the wealth (value) that union and living  waged labor used to create here.

    It’s all global for a reason: unaccountability. When Romney started out as a buzzard he got his cash from the El Salvadorean elite, which was in the process of “massacring its Indians” at that time. Death squad sponsors needed to park their blood money off shore. Romney ran the laundry (for these riches) and the abattoir (for butchering living waged employers). He’s the typical American insider, nothing special.

  • David Eddy

    With the present disconnect from reality, we need to get connected to reality and do what is necessary to fix our own problems before we get involved in any more regrettable fiascos.
    Crazy is not as much fun as we might think it is.  We need China to help build anything to protect ourselves.
    They understand economic principles and we do not.  We need to fix that problem first or we are toast.

  • Fredrickmschindler

    The State of the Union was tough on millionaires  , bankers, and companies who outscource jobs overseas. The speech was not near tough enough . Bankers who caused the financial crisis should be in jail now, companies exporting jobs overseas should be punished, millionaires should all pay more than the middle class in federal taxes, even if their income is all from capitol Gains!

  • Alan Rainwood

    The State of the Union address says what needs to be done: Bringing back the Jobs that Americans need, you shouldn’t get Tax Deduction if you put AMERICAN jobs over seas so none of us can have it.

  • Anonymous

    My inside information is that Moyers&Company is more attuned to media profiteering than Chris Hedges. I can tolerate Moyers earning his way, so for me Hedges is no problem at all. Chris even hits the events and gets arrested. I produce documentaries with money I’ve made in commodities speculation and I can assure you I did far more damage speculating than the good I do with my media friends. 
    But life is a struggle and you have to get money for rent and food and fill in the waking hours some way. I would be flattered if you’d steal any idea I’ve ever shared lefto. When we make a peaceful revolution it will require we pool our assets anyway, and risk our freedom and our lives. After it is all over there will not be much market for the formerly trendy t-shirts and CDs anyway. I like your spirit and I value your writing. What else do you do for the cause? For back channel conference email beretco.op@hotmail.com  I regret you have not yet found your niche in the struggle.

  • joe smith

    I greatly appreciate the return of Bill Moyers  and his guests; but , I feel we all are more than aware of the deplorable rapaciousness of the American Capitalist.  I would like to see Bill balance the program’s perspective and give time to the other factors of the economic calamity.  By this I am referring to the welfare, medicare and unemployment profligacy.

    I would love to see graphs on the wasted money that supports the malingerers  and bottom feeders that consume huge amounts of the working middle classes money.  Some people only work when they are cold, hungry and without shelter.  We allow them to parasitize the economy by rewarding self imposed obesity, cancer, heart disease, emotional distress and bad family planning.  The poor diets, cigarettes and alcohol consumption are all a choice that people make for themselves.  Our profit driven, capitalist economy and their advertising stewards are the providers and promoters of these destructive commodities.  Our supposed freedom gives us the right to make really stupid decisions.  More to the point, the nutty Tea Party and Repulican Right are correct when it comes to Entitlements.

    As many before me have observed, America has to get the influence of Capitalist Wealth out of the political system and now it seems the judicial system(citizens united).  However, now  it seems an impossible task: How can a few Senator Dorgans and Obama oppose an already bought and paid for Congress that has thousands of lobbyists and attorneys to subvert any meaningful change towards intelligence and fairness in our society. 

  • Anonymous

    Chinese debt is 8% of what the federal government owes. Most all the US national debt is owed to the same speculators who engineered the 2008 Meltdown and then accepted a Bailout. Right now they can borrow money from the FED at 0% and lend it to the federal government at a higher rate. This arrangement is unsustainable and the biggest sweetheart welfare deal in history. And it’s not as if the major Presidential candidates don’t know this. They are all in on the sting.

    So explain to me what you’d describe as real, David Eddy.
    Maybe you think your investments are for real, but I don’t know.
    How much did you gift to the opera last year? And who came to listen?
    What did “Madama Butterfly” teach us?
    Both Capitalism and Obama are faithless lovers to democracy.
    Capitalism is personified by Pinkerton. Betraying and selfish, pompous and elitist.
    We are allowing our freedom to cut its own throat.

  • Lawrence H. kilgore

    Your guest today, 02/12/2012, on Moyers and company stated that most americans pay less that ten percent federal income tax. So I went to my 2011 tax return and calculated my  percent federal tax. I am retired on social security with a company pension and IRA. Because I have other income my social security is fully taxed so my total comes to 14.22 percent. My state of Alabama does not tax social security or my qualified pension. I guess I am lucky to get off light on state tax.

  • Herons

    Make Kony Famous. Keep US advisors on the task. Support the effort in Uganda to find and arrest Kony. Give the Invisible Children back their childhood. 20 years of child slavery has to stop now, and we must make sure. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4MnpzG5Sqc&feature=share