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Digesting the State of the Union

Tonight saw President Obama’s first state of the union address, which was followed ten minutes later by the GOP rebuttal from Virginia governor Bob McDonnell.  By the time many of you read this you may already have heard pundits breaking down what was said and what was done during Obama’s speech.  I know this because Rachel Maddow and I had the same observations.  Namely that on the Republican side the seats were warm while on the Democratic side the seats were cold.  Warm, because the Republicans hardly ever stood up.

As President Obama discussed things like getting the money that taxpayers gave to banks to bail them out, the Republicans sat.  As President Obama said we need to reform health care because the cost of health care in this country is stifling economic growth and recovery.  I did however notice that Republicans left their seats when Obama said that he did not want the United States to come in 2nd.

It is almost beyond belief to me that Republicans would sit like statues in their seats while the president put forth a plan to get money back from banks.  Money that average Americans worked hard to gain and banks are frivolously throwing away on big bonuses.  Finally as one of the uninsured, unemployed Americans in this country I was left with a bad taste in my mouth that not one Republican stood for health care reform.  No matter who you are you know that the price we pay for health care is too high.  My brother who suffers from a pre-existing condition just got his latest letter from the insurance company telling him that his premium had been raised to more than $400.00 a month.

I would for a moment like to address 35 seconds of the president’s speech roughly.  It was when President Obama spoke about repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.  We in the gay community have been hearing this since Obama was on the campaign trail, and I am getting a bit tired of hearing him prattle on about this while nothing is done.  Obama has now had a year in office to settle in and it is time that he put some of the issues of the LGBT community on the top of the pile.  If this policy is not repealed by the legislator I hope he is prepared to work in other ways to repeal a policy that has cost taxpayers millions of dollars and discredited the hard work of Lesbian and Gay soldiers over the past 17 years.

Immediately following the Obama’s speech John McCain released the following statement:

"In his State of the Union address, President Obama asked Congress to repeal the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy.  I am immensely proud of, and thankful for, every American who wears the uniform of our country, especially at a time of war, and I believe it would be a mistake to repeal the policy.

This successful policy has been in effect for over fifteen years, and it is well understood and predominantly supported by our military at all levels.  We have the best trained, best equipped, and most professional force in the history of our country, and the men and women in uniform are performing heroically in two wars.  At a time when our Armed Forces are fighting and sacrificing on the battlefield, now is not the time to abandon the policy."

To Mr. McCain I have this to stay: This policy is flawed and you are out of touch with the country that you are trying to govern.  Because of this policy the United States armed forces have dismissed from duty highly skilled soldiers including Arabic translators.  I cannot think of a time when we needed Arabic translators more than we do today.

Senator McCain also showed up on the Sean Hannity Show on Fox News almost immediately after the GOP response (yes I took a deep breath and watched Fox News).  Hannity opened his show reminding his viewers that we had just heard from “The Anointed One.”  From there he introduced McCain where they discussed among other things how Obama is still playing the blame game leading McCain to coining the acronym BIOB Blame It On Bush.  Well, I think Obama was just giving credit where credit was due Mr. McCain.  It is hard to argue with history, and Obama was simply pointing out that while he has spent $1 trillion that the country doesn’t have, the previous administration had spent much more and lost the country a surplus left behind by Clinton.

Hannity also went after Obama’s claim that he had saved two million jobs.  Saying that he couldn’t see where they were.  I think one of the hardest things to see is something that was never missing, and that may be one of the hardest things for people to see.  Unless you know someone whose job was saved by the stimulus package it is hard to see the saved jobs.

Finally I was glad to see the President grow a pair.  The Democrats have the second largest majority in the history of the United States and yet they are having a hard time getting things done.  This irrational fear of the filibuster has stopped them dead in their tracks.  It was great to see Obama stand up before the legislative body and remind them that they are there for the people and that it is time to stop running away from the fight and dive in.

Overall I thought it was a good speech with many concrete ideas and roads to follow for the next year.  So there are first thoughts on his speech, let's see how it moves forward.  What do you think? Share your thoughts below.


Links of Interest:

Transcript and video of the Speech

Notes on the Speech from the White House

Bob McDonnell Rebuttal

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