State of the union

The text of Obama’s 2012 state of the union address can be found (among other places) here. This is me throwing together a few thoughts about it, primarily to help me process all that was said.

(1) I still love hearing Obama speak. I can’t think of a president (American or otherwise) I’d rather listen to.

(2) Obama shamed Republicans. Not hard to do, I’ll admit, given how infantile they’ve been recently. But it’s still enjoyable to see the president call them out on their nonsense.

(3) On economic policy, Obama is a consistently sane moderate, who should have bipartisan appeal. On almost every issue, he makes proposals that make sense, and that touch on key desires of both parties. For instance, he suggested that half of the money no longer going to combat operations in Iraq be used to pay down the debt (nod to Republicans) while the other half be used to rebuild infrastructure (nod to Democrats).

(4) On foreign policy, Obama is a right-wing hawk. He believes in maintaining the U.S.’s place in the world through military strength. What makes him appear progressive is his insistence on intelligent world domination. But don’t be fooled, Obama is just as happy rattling sabers as W ever was (see for instance his “no options off the table” bit about Iran, or his reaffirmation of the U.S.’s “ironclad” commitment to Israel).

(5) Obama continues to work for unity, when Republicans have demonstrated total opposition to that idea (if you watch the speech, you’ll notice how little they clap or stand, even when they should be agreeing). This “can’t we all get along?” approach at home is matched with fierce international exceptionalism. At least rhetorically. U.S. involvement in Lybia is much more collaborative than either of the Iraq and Afghanistan ventures. But in rhetoric at least, Obama is unafraid to embrace a notion of international “leadership” familiar (in rhetoric) from the Bush era.

The generous interpretation: Obama is doing his best to get things done that need to get done, and is willing to compromise (at least in rhetoric) on issues over which he has little control. His insistence on the supreme importance of economic recovery is spot on. And he is slowly regaining international trust, without substantially changing the U.S.’s approach to foreign policy.

The cynical interpretation: Obama is a moderate Republican. He has tremendous influence which he consistently refuses to use for Palestinians, for unions, for fairness in international trade, or against bankers, obstructionist Republicans (though he gestured at a critique of Republicans on this point in his speech), Reagonomics, and nationalistic nonsense.

So what say you? Should I vote to re-elect Obama in 2012? Or should I “throw away” my vote with the Greens (or someone else)? Should I write-in Kucinich?