Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Day Late And A Dollar Short

It wasn't that I didn't want to report on President Obama's speech Tuesday night. I did. My computer crashed: A sinister approach to silence chatter in the blogosphere.

Up and running today (Thursday Feb. 26), I browsed through the usual cast of websites and learned the speech has legs. People are still ruminating about it and the response from Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.

I enjoyed Obama's speech for its tone, specifics and upbeat rallying cry to overcome our economic meltdown. Two thoughts keep lingering in my mind.

First, his optimism jumped the shark when he said we can cure cancer. What he should have said was to fulfill a campaign promise to increase federal funding for stem cell research. Only in this area are we with diseases such as diabetes, cancer, Parkinson's, etc., see a glimmer of hope for future generations.

Second, how in the world does he expect us to pay for all this borrowing to get the banks and consumers on stronger footing? The numbers don't add up. No tax increases for those earning less than $250,000. An increase in rates from 35 to 39% for the other 5%. Savings in health care and from the Iraq war. A tax credit here. A carbon tax there.

Sorry Mr. President. My math does not come from the Harvard School of Economic Prestidigitation. Call me a flaming liberal, but some form of a cross-the-board graduated tax increase will be required if and when the economy rebounds.

During the speech, I couldn't help recalling my formative years growing up in Orange County, Calif., a bastion of rock-ribbed Republicans led by James Utt, perhaps the most conservative representative to ever roam the halls of Congress. Jimmie would have had a heart attack listening to Obama's proposals but at least the common sense not to pull a gun and shoot him.

Picture that in mind when the cameras before the address panned on the justices of the Supreme Court entering the chambers. I could be wrong but I swear I saw Republican Sen. Jim Bunning hug Ruth Baden Ginsberg, the court's most liberal justice who is recovering from pancreatic surgery. A day earlier the conservative from Kentucky was forced to issue an apology to Ginsberg for saying the cancer would kill her within a year.

Yes, I also considered it funny how many times the spry grandmother, Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker, leaped to her feet in applause for the president's remarks. It damn near wore out old Joe Biden, the vice president, sitting alongside Pelosi and to the back of the president. One TV pundit sarcastically praised Biden for keeping his mouth shut during the hour speech.

The reaction among Republicans and conservatives questioning Jindal's rebuttal speech I thought borderline stunning. He appeared, as they said, performing a parody of himself on "Saturday Night Live." He was unavailable for comment Wednesday. apparently sneaking off to visit DisneyWorld.

What made Obama's speech remarkable -- in perspective of watching State-of-the-Union and first-year addresses for the past 30 years -- is how far the Republican Party has sunk from the good graces of public opinion.

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