Who's "tone-deaf politically," Obama or BigGovernment?

Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

Responding to President Obama's State of the Union speech, BigGovernment.com editor-in-chief Mike Flynn writes:

Obama seemed to have a gift for perfectly capturing the tone and mood of the public. It may seem a tired cliche now, but his speeches did much to inspire the hope people attached to his candidacy. Even rather vague or pedestrian phrases seemed to soar in his gifted hands. I had accepted it as a given that, if his political fortunes were ever down, Obama would be able to reverse his troubles by pulling just the right speech from his rhetorical bag of tricks.

No more.

Obama's State of the Union address last night was not just overly long and dull, it was totally tone-deaf politically. Coming on the heels of a political upset in Massachusetts, with deteriorating poll numbers and anxious members of his own party, Obama badly needed a home-run to change the political dynamics. He struck out.

Flynn has every right to say that he finds the speech "overly long and dull," but he offers no evidence whatsoever to support his claim that it was "totally tone-deaf politically." If the speech was such a political disaster, surely poll data would show that the American people rejected it. It does not.


Of the randomly selected 522 speech viewers questioned by CBS, 83 percent said they approved of the proposals the President made. Just 17 percent disapproved - typical of the high support a president generally receives among those who choose to watch the State of the Union. In January 2002 - when George W. Bush gave the State of the Union Address a year into his presidency - 85% of speech watchers approved.

Six in 10 of those asked said they thought Mr. Obama conveyed a clear plan for creating jobs, and seven in 10 said his plans for the economy will help ordinary Americans. Another seven in 10 said President Obama has the same priorities for the country as they have.

The same individuals were interviewed both before and after Wednesday's State of the Union, and after the speech, 70 percent said Mr. Obama shares their priorities for the country, up from 57 percent before the speech.


A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey indicated that 48 percent of speech watchers had a very positive reaction, with three in 10 saying they had a somewhat positive response and 21 percent with a negative response.


Two-thirds of speech-watchers who were questioned said the president will succeed in improving the economy, with nearly six in 10 saying he'll succeed in creating jobs.

As Eric Boehlert has noted, the media seem eager to disappear last night's polling results; it doesn't fit the story that they want to tell.

Michael Flynn
2010 State of the Union
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