Thoughts about the State of the Union, Haley’s response?


Y’all, I’ve really been backed up today and having technical problems and just haven’t been able to stop with day job stuff to reflect on last night’s State of the Union, or Nikki Haley’s response.

But what did y’all think? I’ll jump in there with you as I can…

haley vid

30 thoughts on “Thoughts about the State of the Union, Haley’s response?

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    Here’s a comment from Phillip from another post, which I thought might be even more appropriate here:

    In the back-and-forth here about whether Obama “did anything” or not substantial as President, I’ll cast a strong vote of endorsement for the things that Obama did NOT do, primarily in the area of foreign policy, where one could easily imagine a McCain or a Romney administration (with John Bolton at State and Lindsey Graham at Defense) uncorking aggressive and massive military responses to every remotely unnerving situation in any corner of the planet.

    To be sure the days of “hope and change” upon Obama’s election are gone, and I think that’s one more nail in the coffin of the electorate ever seriously hoping for real substantive change, holding optimism for the future. Obviously many of us disagree on what was the cause for things not working out as Obama’s supporters (myself included) might have liked. But whatever the cause, the sense of disillusionment is real and widespread.

    Really, the nation has become too large and divided to run on the federal level in the way it is set up, it seems. It has been heading that way for some time now. I suppose it might be more possible for a strongly right-wing President to accomplish more, because their agenda might naturally be more in sync with the corporate, banking, and military entities that, let’s face it, really make up the mechanisms of how most aspects of the nation actually function.

    I think this year’s election is just another chapter in a long story that’s been unfolding for some time now. The level of disillusionment provides its own dangers to American democracy, as the longing for a “decisive leader who can get things done” will only grow. It’s not like this hasn’t happened before in history.

    Yeah, yeah, I know…”other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?” Sorry to be such a downer.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Phillip, go ahead and be a downer if that’s the way it feels, but I’ve GOT TO respond to this:

      “I suppose it might be more possible for a strongly right-wing President to accomplish more, because their agenda might naturally be more in sync with the corporate, banking, and military entities that, let’s face it, really make up the mechanisms of how most aspects of the nation actually function.”

      First, I’m not sure what you mean by “really make up the mechanisms of how most aspects of the nation actually function.” Does that mean you think those elements run the country?

      No, they don’t. I mean, it’s obvious that they don’t do that, and no evidence that they do, beyond a lot of paranoid rhetoric out there. The most of absurd of the three to think that of is the military, which is not a thing with a political will. Last night, my wife commented on how the Joint Chiefs sat deadpan like statues during the speech, while all around them others were reacting like crazy. Well, of course. It’s not their jobs to have opinions, or to indicate in any way that they DO have opinions. Their job is to do what that guy up there on the podium tells them to do, with a salute stapled to their foreheads.

      I’ve said something like this before here, and I’ll say it again. If “corporate, banking, and military entities” were running the country, things would look very, very different. Things would be run along pragmatic lines with an eye to what works, rather than what strokes someone’s ideological impulses. That doesn’t mean I’d be happy with what they did — in fact, I’d object to their being in charge to begin with. But their actions would be far more likely to be fact-based than what our current over-ideological politics produces. Business people would be for growth, which is what we need more than anything to snap out of our economic doldrums. The military, contrary to the fantasies of the post-Vietnam crowd, would be more likely than the average person to pursue policies that never put a soldier, sailor or airman at risk.

      And finally, my most urgent object: Do you actually believe that business and the military have ANYTHING in common with Donald Trump or Ted Cruz in terms of the kind of course they’d choose for the country? Personally, I can’t imagine any two poles farther apart.

      The people who are driving the political trends that have brought Trump and Cruz to the fore are not business elites or banking elites or military elites or elites of any other kind. It’s a bunch of ordinary people out there who don’t have a CLUE how the world works, and are demanding candidates who will cater to their prejudices and uninformed presumptions about what might make good policy.

      And THAT is far, far more dangerous than anything business or the military might bring to the table. It’s a recipe for absolute chaos, and the crumbling of all this country stands for…

      1. bud

        Dwight Eisenhower warned us of the military industrial complex. Perhaps neo-con plutocracy would be a better term today. Phillip’s description is pretty spot on. Partisanship in the political arena pales in comparison to the excesses of the military and the super rich. This really is a critical point in time to try and make our government work for the people again. Bernie is the only candidate who gets it.

        I’m really feeling the Bern now. With polls tightening there is at least a bit of hope. Bernie should easily defeat Trump if he wins (although I still feel is less likely than Cruz).

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    Oops, two corrections on those hasty Tweets from last night:

    “Give her credit for saying South Carolina came together withOUT claiming responsibility for the very real leadership she showed…”


    (David) “Brooks SAYS these responses are all terrible, and “mediocre” is a high water mark… “

  3. Bryan Caskey

    Didn’t watch the State of the Union. I was dealing with some other stuff, but I heard that Obama gave Biden the homework assignment of curing cancer, so I’ll take that as a sign of how the speech went.

    Given that Haley had to stand alone in a room with just a camera and follow one of the biggest political spectacles we have, I thought Haley knocked it out the park, and I expounded on why over at my blog. In short, her speech was a rejection of Trumpism while hitting the regular notes of mainstream American Conservatism (or classical liberalism, if you prefer) in ways that showed balance.

    Most of all, her tone was wonderful. It came from a place of optimism, rather than the fear and anger that we see so much of in the Presidential candidates these days. Moreover, I really thought she won points when she said: “We need to accept that we’ve [the GOP] played a role in how and why our government is broken.”

    It’s so refreshing to hear a politician acknowledge something negative like this, even when it’s such a simple truth.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Oh, and as I said, Nikki did fine.

      I don’t think I’ve ever heard one of these responses that I actually LIKED, and this was no exception. This informal institution is one that galls me.

      But for what it was, she did fine. It could have been a LOT worse, as anyone following, say, Mick Mulvaney’s Tweets during the speech can attest:

      But I can’t say I was knocked out by her performance, because I went in with high expectations of her.

      She makes a better first impression than anyone I’ve ever met. It is her greatest political strength. And this was her chance to make such an impression on the nation, and I assumed she’d do well. Which she did….

  4. Barry

    Didn’t watch it. I didn’t care.

    Did read twitter a little last night to see reaction which I thought was interesting. A few trends were obvious

    1) Democrats that I saw commenting, especially women, were ripping into Nikki Haley about her appearance and quite a few couldn’t seem to get over her skin color. The fact that she’s Indian -American and Republican apparently makes some of them mad.

    2) Found it ironic that the “war on women” crowd were ripping Haley- especially on things like apperance. I can’t repeat some of the things that I saw written about her. Even if I could, I wouldn’t.

    3) On another front, I also some conservative people making some comments about the choice of a very revealing dress for the lady that sung the national anthem before the Clemson-Bama game Monday night.

    Many liberals on twitter were ripping the heck out of anyone that questioned why a woman would dress in such a revealing manner to sing the national anthem before a college football game on television as prominent as the national title game which involved 2 teams from the southern United States.


    Liberal folks can rip a conservative woman’s appearance and be very nasty about it and that’s acceptable – even encouraged.

    Conservative folks can’t question why a woman would wear a revealing dress to sing the national anthem before a college football game because doing so is to engage in a war on women.

    I’ve got it clear now.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Don’t look for consistency. It’s all about attacking the “other side,” with whatever rocks you can find handy.

      And both sides do it. (Oops! I’m gonna get another diatribe from Bud — but it’s true.)

      And I have to applaud both the president and our governor for speaking out against that kind of ideological anger and negativity. They both sort of said, “Haters don’t hate — don’t be one of them.”

      And while “play nice; don’t be cynical” didn’t exactly make for stirring oratory, I applaud them both for that.

      1. Barry

        Except the main stream media plays up the war on women angle from the conservative side every chance they get (and they’ve been given some chances by some really stupid statements here and there).

        The main stream media is never going to play up or focus (or mention) the other wide of the coin (liberals making fun of Haley’s appearance all over twitter last night). They just can’t bring themselves to bring that up.

        and of course Bill’s war on women (rape) isn’t too cool to talk about either.

    2. JesseS

      The lunatic partisans of both parties were sad and ridiculous when crowing from their respective peanut galleries.

      One side claimed she should be deported and the other jumped to assume that the people who voted for her can’t tell the difference between a Muslim and a Hindu.

      At least I had something to laugh about this morning.

  5. Brad Warthen Post author

    By the way, here’s what SC Democrats had to say in response to our governor:

    SCDP Chair Statement on Nikki Haley Delivering GOP SOTU Response

    Columbia, SC – Tonight, South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Jaime Harrison issued the following statement on Governor Nikki Haley’s response to the President’s State of the Union speech.

    “Governor Haley’s response represents a Republican Party whose values do not match up with their rhetoric. Gov. Haley would like our nation to believe that she is a unifier, committed to helping South Carolinians and working families across the country, yet she’s peddling the same trickle-down economics that only benefit the very wealthy. We’ve tried that before and it failed.

    “In her own home state Gov. Haley has refused to accept the funds available to expand Medicaid and provide health care to the nearly 200,000 individuals without health insurance. Gov. Haley has chosen to side with her party’s wealthy backers instead of ensuring that middle class and working families have the opportunity to make a livable wage and providing quality, affordable education for their children.

    “On all of the issues, Gov. Haley has chosen to side with a rigid and radical ideology over the welfare of the people she was elected to serve. This is not the record of someone who is being considered for Vice President. America and South Carolina deserve better.”


    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      And let me make an objection similar to the one I did to Phillip above…

      I happen to believe that turning down Medicaid expansion is the worst, least excusable thing Nikki Haley has done in office. But this is a serious misrepresentation of the governor’s position and her motives for it, based in current Democratic party propaganda rather than facts:
      Gov. Haley has chosen to side with her party’s wealthy backers instead of ensuring that middle class and working families have the opportunity…

      Nikki Haley does not oppose Medicaid expansion because of “wealthy backers.” She’s doing it because that’s what her base — particularly those Tea Party people who put her into power — want. Oh, there may be a “wealthy backer” here and there who agree with the great mass of people she’s deferring to — but she’s all about playing to the crowd on this.

      If this was a matter of some big-time check writers, the situation wouldn’t be so dire. What makes it bad is that these Republican lawmakers go home to their districts, and their constituents let them know that they want them fighting that horrible ol’ Obamacare.

      Democrats may want to wish that away and blame it all on some boogeymen that no one identifies with, but that’s not the problem…

  6. Harry Harris

    Other than the inaccuracies in her opening comments about Obama’s record, I thought it was a very good speech. She has grown in some ways, gotten out of some of the TEA party grip, but refused to see other issues outside doctrinaire positions. Medicare expansion, tax shifts toward the poor and lower middle class, and neglect of state infrastructure are issues she needs to open-up about.
    The tendency of governors to tout their state’s economic progress (specifically jobs and unemployment) as happening in isolation to national trends is just disingenuous, and the press should call them on it. Bush was amazing in Florida when the national economy was humming under Clinton. SC’s performance pretty-much mirrors the recovery nationwide. Haley may be fortunate she wasn’t governor here in ’07-09 when the economy tanked. I seriously doubt she would have stemmed the slide downward when she promoted basically the same policies as Sanford, but with a more robust pursuit of landing industry. It’s hard to do that successfully when companies aren’t expanding.

  7. Doug Ross

    I’d like to see a cumulative list of all the things Obama has said he was going to do from his eight SOTU speeches and then grade him on how many he actually accomplished. It’s pure theater and I’ve seen enough marketing presentations in my time to not waste my time watching another one.

    1. Harry Harris

      How about a list of the things Republicans have supported prior to Obama agreeing to press forward, then abandoned immediately after O’Connell stated his top priority was to defeat Obama coupled with Demint’s strategy to make health care his “Waterloo.”
      Obama got no stimulative bill passed, including infrastructure and highway bills after the ’09 stimulus package (1/2 tax cuts). A few non-austerity measures were passed that preserved tax benefits for lower-paid working people, and a temporary 2% FICA cut was a bridge, but those were bought by trading estate tax concessions that only benefited a small number of taxpayers (and added to the deficit). Only a small portion of Obama’s stated goals were abandoned (like assault weapons ban).

      1. Barry

        He was going to close Gitmo.

        was going to crack-down on employers who hire illegals. Even Politifact said he had changed his tune quickly on this one (some states are doing the job though).

        has repeatedly delayed leaving Afghanistan despite many promises to do so quickly in his 2008 campaign.

  8. Brad Warthen

    You know what?

    I just cut this out of my post:

    “I’ll just say I wasn’t overwhelmed by either. They both did all right, about as expected. I was not all that inspired by either. Below are a few Tweets.”

    As I said, I had not taken time to reflect. Now that I’ve had a bit more time for that, I’m thinking we had an important alignment of the planets last night. Both Barack Obama and Nikki Haley using their big moments — his last SOTU, her first turn on the national stage — to urge people to reject the worst, most negative elements of our politics today…

    That’s special. That’s important. That’s worth celebrating.

    I’m proud of them both…

  9. Burl Burlingame

    But the bottom line that it was like all previous SOTUs:

    President: Let’s work together to solve our problems.

    Response: Screw you!

  10. Burl Burlingame

    The moment that stuck with me was when the president was praising our military, and leg less veteran Tammy Duckworth struggled upright to applaud while the Joint Chiefs (sitting right in front of her) sat there stonily with their arms folded.

  11. Phillip

    Re the part of my comment you reposted, Bud is correct…I should have referred to the military-industrial complex. You are right that the military is often more cautious and prudent than its civilian (i.e., Commanders-in-Chief) leadership. It’s the weapons-and-war industry to which I was referring. Do you really think the federal government is what makes this country tick? Isn’t it the opposite? The government runs at the behest of other forces. I constantly have the image in my mind of the federal government (especially the President) as a small mouse riding an enormous elephant and pretending that the reins it is pulling are actually affecting the direction of the elephant, when of course it is doing no such thing.


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