If you ever wondered what it sounded like to hear a black man sing country, your curiosity was sated tonight. Obama sang the litany of woes common to jukebox country tunes. "You lost your job, your house, your student loan, your girlfriend," he told the nation.
To the man's credit, he shifted gears, finally sounding optimistic and hopeful after his seemingly obligatory notes of doom. I particularly liked the lines about "We don't do what is easy. We do what is necessary," and the inclusion of an actual pun: "a down payment on the principle that everyone deserves health care." And how refreshingly honest to finally include the cost of war in the budget after 7 years of treating it like an annual surprise?
Whatever qualms I had about his speech tonight were dissolved as I listened to Gov. Bobby Jindal deliver the Republican's rebuttal. He had the audacity to criticize Obama's plan by pointing to the Federal Government's response to Katrina? Seriously? Bush's incompetence is the best thing he can find to criticize about Obama? Have the Republicans loosened up on drug use for their elected officials? There are legitimate angles from which to criticize Obama and his stimulus package. Jindal instead just seemed to obliviously indict Republicans. In spite of their efforts to show color in their public face - first the new RNC head and now Jindal as spokespeople for the GOP - Republicans seem intent on hurtling towards irrelevance, almost as if they've all suddenly heard their own rhetoric about the evils of government and are suddenly embarrassed by their involvement in politics and are doing all they can to be voted out in massive waves.
The Republicans refusal to cheer the stimulus package reminds us that they've essentially placed a bet on continued economic downturn for the next four years. In order for their refusal to support the stimulus package to seem credible in 2012, the economy has to continue to limp along in spite of our spending another trillion (or two or three). This seems unlikely. And Americans will likely remember that the Republicans sat out the attempts to stimulate the economy - a sit in that could easily be illustrated by footage from tonight's speech when the Republicans sat mute during a standing ovation for Obama's package.
It would be so nice if the Republicans abandoned their commitment to idiocy. We could use a good alternative. But alas, the Republicans are as close to clueless as Obama is far from perfect. For me, it is still a no-brainer: I'll side with the guy who does the right thing poorly to the party that does the stupid things so well. No wonder my conservative friends are so angry when they talk politics. Who wouldn't be with that kind of party to represent your interests?