John on September 8, 2011 at 11:19 pm
Dana Milbank is not one of my favorite opinion writers; however, this column is actually recommended reading. Despite being aimed mostly at Republicans (as per usual), the sheer level of observation brings it close to being news:
“You should pass this jobs plan right away!” Obama exhorted. Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) chuckled.
“Warren Buffet pays a lower tax rate than his secretary — an outrage he has asked us to fix,” Obama went on. Widespread laughter broke out on the GOP side of the aisle.
“This isn’t political grandstanding,” Obama said. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) guffawed.
“This isn’t class warfare,” Obama said. More hysterics on the right.
I’ll admit I laughed out loud at the grandstanding line. I think Republicans deserve credit for avoiding sustained laughter at that one. But again, Dana Milbank comes about as close as is possible (for him) to presenting a balanced picture:
The nation is in an unemployment crisis, and Obama was finally, belatedly, unveiling his proposals, but Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) thought this would be a good time to ask Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to autograph a copy of the children’s book “House Mouse, Senate Mouse.”…
Democrats lumbered to their feet to give the president several standing ovations, but they struggled at times to demonstrate enthusiasm. When Obama proposed payroll tax cuts for small businesses, three Democrats stood to applaud. Summer jobs for disadvantaged youth brought six Democrats to their feet, and a tax credit for hiring the long-term unemployed produced 11 standees.
Obama spoke quickly, urgently, even angrily. Rep. Jesse Jackson (D-Ill.) stared at the ceiling. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) scanned the gallery. Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) was seen reading a newspaper.
I think the sense you get once you filter out some of Milbank’s bias, is that almost no one took this as anything other than a campaign kickoff event using Congress as a scenic backdrop. If that’s the case, Congress was right to treat it as an unserious spectacle.
Republicans certainly didn’t consent to being extras in Obama’s reelection drama. When offered they even refused a speaking role (the post-speech rebuttal). I don’t blame them. This picture has flop written all over it. Like many Americans, a lot of people in that room last night think we’ve go the wrong leading man.
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