The President’s Address: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
This is a step by step review of the framing in Obama’s speech rated Ugly, Bad, and Good. (Quotes in italics)
First ugly moment:
That, too, is what sets us apart as a nation.
(ugly America first talk) (Applause.)
It’s whether we sustain the leadership that has made America not just a place on a map, but the light to the world.
(ugly, America is a light? Not so much anymore.)
We are poised for progress. Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever known, the stock market has come roaring back. Corporate profits are up. The economy is growing again.
(bad misleading claptrap. Where are the jobs if everything is going well? Why is the stock market more important than jobs? Yes, corporations are doing well, but where are the jobs?)
Many people watching tonight can probably remember a time when finding a good job meant showing up at a nearby factory or a business downtown. You didn’t always need a degree, and your competition was pretty much limited to your neighbors.
(bad: he puts the lack of jobs on workers to “compete” but ignores the reality that companies want cheap labor and getting more education won’t get you that job.)
America still has the largest, most prosperous economy in the world. (Applause.) No workers — no workers are more productive than ours. No country has more successful companies, or grants more patents to inventors and entrepreneurs. We’re the home to the world’s best colleges and universities, where more students come to study than any place on Earth.
(America’s number 1!, great and ugly patriotism that avoids the reality of job losses and lack of jobs’ programs)
Sustaining the American Dream has never been about standing pat. It has required each generation to sacrifice, and struggle, and meet the demands of a new age.
(Ugly: where is the sacrifice of Congress people, the corporations that got bailed out, the top 2% who kept their tax cuts. Why are the workers always sacrificing and not those that can?)
This is our generation’s Sputnik moment. Two years ago, I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven’t seen since the height of the Space Race. And in a few weeks, I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal. We’ll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology — (applause) — an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.
(Good and Bad: Great use of language, good idea, but what (space programs?) proposal do you have and where will the jobs come from?)
We need to get behind this innovation. And to help pay for it, I’m asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. (Applause.) I don’t know if — I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but they’re doing just fine on their own.
(good joke, but where is the action to make the oil companies accountable, bad) (Laughter.)
Our schools share this responsibility. When a child walks into a classroom, it should be a place of high expectations and high performance. But too many schools don’t meet this test. That’s why instead of just pouring money into a system that’s not working, we launched a competition called Race to the Top. To all 50 states, we said, “If you show us the most innovative plans to improve teacher quality and student achievement, we’ll show you the money.” Race to the Top is the most meaningful reform of our public schools in a generation.
(Race to the Top is an ugly program that pits schools against each other for paltry sums of money)
One last point about education. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of students excelling in our schools who are not American citizens. Some are the children of undocumented workers, who had nothing to do with the actions of their parents. They grew up as Americans and pledge allegiance to our flag, and yet they live every day with the threat of deportation. Others come here from abroad to study in our colleges and universities. But as soon as they obtain advanced degrees, we send them back home to compete against us. It makes no sense.
(Good: stating the facts in support of the Dream Act is a promotion of solidarity for citizens)
So tonight, I’m asking Democrats and Republicans to simplify the system. Get rid of the loopholes. Level the playing field. And use the savings to lower the corporate tax rate for the first time in 25 years — without adding to our deficit. It can be done.
(Ugly: lower tax rates for corporations that don’t pay taxes? You better get rid of the loopholes first, and then maybe lower the rates)
To help businesses sell more products abroad, we set a goal of doubling our exports by 2014 — because the more we export, the more jobs we create here at home.
(ugly pandering to businesses. Where are the jobs?)
And last month, we finalized a trade agreement with South Korea that will support at least 70,000 American jobs. This agreement has unprecedented support from business and labor, Democrats and Republicans — and I ask this Congress to pass it as soon as possible.
(ugly: free trade agreements fail to create jobs and only boost profits for corporations already doing well.) (Applause.)
When we find rules that put an unnecessary burden on businesses, we will fix them.
(Bad, all regulation is seen as a burden to every company, who will decide what a burden is? ) (Applause.)
But I will not hesitate to create or enforce common-sense safeguards to protect the American people.
(good, because we need regulation for many things, or companies will kill us for money.) (Applause.)
What I’m not willing to do — what I’m not willing to do is go back to the days when insurance companies could deny someone coverage because of a preexisting condition.
(good, if this holds true) (Applause.)
We are living with a legacy of deficit spending that began almost a decade ago.
(Bad, the large deficit spending began under Reagan and continued with a slight reprieve under Clinton)
But now that the worst of the recession is over,
(Bad, there are no jobs, so who is the recession over for?)
So tonight, I am proposing that starting this year, we freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years.
(ugly, there are no jobs and you want to stop spending when we need work? And what about the bloated military budget?) (Applause.)
This freeze will require painful cuts. Already, we’ve frozen the salaries of hardworking federal employees
(bad: freezing salaries of workers first but not having the wealthy pay their share? Where did you get those ideas?)
The Secretary of Defense has also agreed to cut tens of billions of dollars in spending that he and his generals believe our military can do without.
(good, but not enough on this) (Applause.)
This means further reducing health care costs, including programs like Medicare and Medicaid (bad, what is the real plan?), which are the single biggest contributor to our long-term deficit
(bad, it’s misleading to bundle these programs together and ignore the military budget. Medicare and Medicaid help people, it is spending for people, the military is spending for war and to help military contractors).
Still, I’m willing to look at other ideas to bring down costs, including one that Republicans suggested last year — medical malpractice reform to rein in frivolous lawsuits.
(bad, lawsuits are NOT frivolous. If they are, they get quickly thrown out and the plaintiff has to pay for the court costs of the defendant. It’s call summary judgment. It’s a lie that there are “frivolous lawsuits” or that they are a major problem. No lawyer would take on a case if they couldn’t win and there are safeguards against frivolous lawsuits. Even people that were looking for frivolous lawsuits could only find two in over 3,000 cases they studied http://www.thenation.com/issue/march-7-2005 ) (Applause.)
And if we truly care about our deficit, we simply can’t afford a permanent extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.
(good. now, what is he doing to do about it other than compromise it away?) (Applause.)
And so we must defeat determined enemies
(bad to use “us versus them” terms),
wherever they are, and build coalitions that cut across lines of region and race and religion. And America’s moral example
(ugly: what moral example, having a hit list, using drones to kill people, torture? What example?)
must always shine for all who yearn for freedom and justice and dignity.
(ugly, yes freedom to have tax cuts and be unemployed are great, but what about freedom of speech, freedom to not be spied on, freedom to have our vote count and have fair elections, etc?)
Look to Iraq, where nearly 100,000 of our brave men and women have left with their heads held high. (Applause.) American combat patrols have ended, violence is down
(ugly lie, violence is up in Iraq: link or link),
and a new government has been formed.
(ugly: a new corrupt government)
This year, our civilians will forge a lasting partnership with the Iraqi people, while we finish the job of bringing our troops out of Iraq. America’s commitment has been kept. (ugly: what commitment?)
The Iraq war is coming to an end.
(bad: really?) (Applause.)
American Muslims are a part of our American family.
(good: this can not be said enough, it’s important that the President says this. Islamophobia must be addressed. ) (Applause.)
In Afghanistan, our troops have taken Taliban strongholds and trained Afghan security forces.
(ugly: the Taliban have just moved on. You cannot defeat an idea with an army)
Our purpose is clear: By preventing the Taliban from reestablishing a stranglehold over the Afghan people, we will deny al Qaeda the safe haven that served as a launching pad for 9/11.
(ugly: more excuses for war by an American president)
Thanks to our heroic troops and civilians, fewer Afghans are under the control of the insurgency. There will be tough fighting ahead, and the Afghan government will need to deliver better governance. But we are strengthening the capacity of the Afghan people
(ugly: we are strengthening their capacity by killing and bombing them and destroying their homes? What? )
and building an enduring partnership with them. This year, we will work with nearly 50 countries to begin a transition to an Afghan lead. And this July, we will begin to bring our troops home.
(ugly, especially with the info that he want to extend our presence until 2014) (Applause.)
American leadership can also be seen in the effort to secure the worst weapons of war. Because Republicans and Democrats approved the New START treaty, far fewer nuclear weapons and launchers will be deployed.
(good: It’s good to reduce nuclear weapons and have a verification system, but it could go further to address uranium tipped weapons and head towards elimination of these weapons.)
Because of a diplomatic effort to insist that Iran meet its obligations, the Iranian government now faces tougher sanctions, tighter sanctions than ever before.
(ugly, the sanctions don’t hurt the Iranian government, it strengthens their anti-West ideology and hurts the people)
This is just a part of how we’re shaping a world that favors peace and prosperity.
Recent events have shown us that what sets us apart must not just be our power — it must also be the purpose behind it. In south Sudan — with our assistance — the people were finally able to vote for independence after years of war.
(good: if the United States was a positive influence in bringing about the vote, that’s good.) (Applause.)
And we saw that same desire to be free in Tunisia, (did I tell you, or what?) where the will of the people proved more powerful than the writ of a dictator. And tonight, let us be clear: The United States of America stands with the people of Tunisia, and supports the democratic aspirations of all people.
(ugly, ugly, ugly That’s a lie. We support the dictatorship in Egypt, the military government in Colombia, the fake Democracy in Pakistan and Afghanistan, we overthrew the Democratic government in Iran in 1954 and Guatemala, helped with the coups in Chile and Argentina, supported Marcos in the Philippines and Suarto in Indonesia, not to mention our meddling in Haiti the Dominican Republic and our support of death squads in Central America, and so on. I knew this lie was coming) (Applause.)
And with that change, I call on all our college campuses to open their doors to our military recruiters and ROTC.
(ugly x 10: universities are for learning, not recruiting. We should start drafting Congress people’s kids and those of CEOs in Fortune 500 companies. Why should the poor and middle classes fight the wars for the rich? Do you think Obama, Boehner, Pelosi or Palin, or the Koch brothers will send their kids off the war? Stop killing the children of the poor for corporate profit. )
That dream — that American Dream
(bad, it’s just bad promoting this myth to us President Obama. The American Dream is dead, and we must make a sustainable future, not fantasize about an unobtainable dream created in advertising board rooms in the 50s.)
Score: A+ in meeting stated purpose of appeasing the people, disarming the Republicans and starting the momentum for the 2012 election.
D in coming up with new ideas.
D for not addressing jobs and issues average Americans care about.
E on foreign policy and using the language of empire
Summary of the talking points
Ugly: It was full of pandering patriotism like all presidential addresses, and no proposals for the “future” (a word he used 15 times in his address).
Ugly: myth of America as a benevolent imperial power.
Bad: The promotion of U.S. exceptionalism over being a world citizen.
Bad: They myth that technology is the answer to all our problems.
Ugly: promoting Republican ideas like “tort reform”, a problem invented by Republicans who want to end corporate accountability.
Good: the idea that science and education are important.
Good: promoting Sudan independence.
Ugly: using gays in the military as a path to promoting ROTC at university compuses.
Ugly: Ignoring the genocide in Darfur and ignoring it in his speech.
Ugly: Race to the Top and it’s promotion as innovation when it’s just reheated No Child Left Behind but with higher stakes.
Bad: No mention of gun regulation that might reduce killings like those in Tucson.
Bad: no mention of the BP spill or climate change.
Listen to Democracy Now! and their guests’ reviews of the speech: http://www.democracynow.org/ including Harry Belafonte.