Look: I am eager to learn stuff I don't know--which requires actively courting and posting smart disagreement.

But as you will understand, I don't like to post things that mischaracterize and are aimed to mislead.

-- Brad Delong

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

State of the Union

President Obama's final State of the Union address has received generally high marks - at least from people who think with their brains and not the nether reaches of their alimentary canals.  But there were a couple things in it that troubled me.

One was his enthusiasm for the TPP.  Undoubtedly, it has some good features.  But it's features were kept secret far too long; and it was never adequately explained to the American people.   Especially troubling is the prospect of foreign corporations being able to sue the U.S. for lost profits due to our internal decisions and rule making.  TransCanada is already using NAFTA provision to sue us for lost profits due to our refusal to let the Keystone XL pipeline go through.   Who knows how much more liability we might face under TPP, and what types of courts or tribunals might make those decisions

Do the proposed benefits of TPP outweigh the potential downsides, which might include direct challenges to U. S. sovereignty? Does TPP benefit U. S. workers, or trans-national mega-corporations? How can anyone decide these question intelligently?

The second was his moment of abject humility over his alleged failure to bridge the partisan gap with the Republicans - as if they hadn't met on the night of his first inauguration and mapped out a strategy to make him fail.  This crystalized for me as I listened to Thom Hartmann while driving home last night. Obama has spoken repeatedly about Dolores Kearns Goodwin's book 'Team of Rivals," which tells the story of the opposition members Lincoln installed in his cabinet. This seems to have influenced him since he said that a greater president, like Lincoln or FDR, would have been able to unite the differing parties.

This is not only false, it is so wrong it makes me sad.  Evidently Obama is still operating under the delusion that the Republicans will work with him to achieve anything.  They've already been blocking the appointment of new ambassadors for well over a year, have slow-walked judicial nominations for as long as they've had the majority, and now will approve no more during Obama's term in office.

When Obama spoke those words on Tuesday, I turned to my lovely wife and said, "For the thousandth time Obama extends an olive branch across the aisle, and for the thousandth time it's dashed to the ground and stomped into splinters."

Lincoln might have worked with members of the opposition, but it was an outspoken opposition sympathizer and anti-abolitionist who murdered him.

FDR, on the other hand, had no regard for bipartisanship.  In a 1936 campaign speech he famously said, "I welcome their hatred."  Then he went on about his business.

I don't know what Obama was thinking.  Maybe this is one more move in his game of 11 dimensional chess.  Certainly he is savvy and far more intelligent than the Republicans who oppose him.

But it looks to me that the time for conciliation is several years past its expiration date; and Obama needs to start educating the American people who their real enemies are.

That would make him a whole lot more like FDR.

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