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For Obama, Time for Results

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"We face a deficit of trust... close that credibility gap..."


In his State of the Union Speech
on Thursday, Pres. Obama was as ambitious as ever. But while he did discuss climate change, he suggested that nuclear energy and clean coal (an oxymoron if ever there was one) would help solve the problem.

It was a conservative speech for a Democrat -- it's a wonder Gov. Bob McDonnell, who offered the Republican rebuttal, had anything left to say. After all of Obama's talk about tax cuts... tax cuts... tax cuts...

Obama was optimistic, while conceding mistakes and tough times. It seemed that everyone in the Chamber understood the gravity of the challenges we face, so that by the end of Obama's speech there was a clear sense that getting to work couldn't wait. The question is whether Democrats and Republicans are going to their separate corners or if they're ready to get serious about getting something done.

A speech cannot make it so.

Pres. Obama finished, determined, adding a nod to Ted Kennedy: "We don't quit. I don't quit. Let's seize this moment - to start anew, to carry the dream forward, and to strengthen our union once more."

Reset. Take a breath. Let's start again. We all want things to be better. We can do it together. Don't get cynical. Keep working. "Our administration has had some political setbacks this year, and some of them were deserved," Obama conceded at the end of his speech.

To the camera he said, "The spirit that has sustained this nation for more than two centuries lives on in you, its people."

Pres. Obama ended on national security (see video above), including another pledge to reverse Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Even as we prosecute two wars, we are also confronting perhaps the greatest danger to the American people - the threat of nuclear weapons. I have embraced the vision of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan through a strategy that reverses the spread of these weapons, and seeks a world without them. To reduce our stockpiles and launchers, while ensuring our deterrent, the United States and Russia are completing negotiations on the farthest-reaching arms control treaty in nearly two decades. And at April's Nuclear Security Summit, we will bring forty-four nations together behind a clear goal: securing all vulnerable nuclear materials around the world in four years, so that they never fall into the hands of terrorists. ...

Obama sold the stimulus like his presidency depended on it. But it was on taxes that the Chamber's roof just about blew off. Capital gains cuts for small business. Innovation was included too (finally).

Then there was Obama taking on the Supreme Court, with Justice Alito reacting to political partisanship like a schoolboy at recess, instead of through the position he holds.

Obama even hit George W. Bush on the "lost decade," the housing bubble and financial speculation. One was left wondering what might have been if Obama had started reminding people last year, so that at this point he wouldn't have to anymore.

...and then there was health care... and of course, a lot on jobs.

As for Gov. Bob McDonnell's response to Obama's SOTU, he was no Bobby Jindal. Talking about his boys who said he had 10 minutes before they went to watch Sports Center, their dad didn't quite make it. McDonnell also quoted his fellow Virginian, Thomas Jefferson. "We want results, not rhetoric," said McDonnell, taking the heading I'd already crafted. "Reform" being a word he used often, including on health care, which he wasn't afraid to talk about. He used Scott Brown's words on terrorism: "As Senator-elect Scott Brown says, we should be spending taxpayer dollars to defeat terrorists, not to protect them." Bet that we'll hear it again. The Republican establishment actually offered an alternative tonight that won't scare independents to death, a man who is a serious contender. That is, if the Tea Partiers don't lock them out.

Enough. After an an abysmal first year for Obama, it's time for results.

Taylor Marsh is a political analyst, with podcasts available on iTunes.

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