Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post writes a column called the “Fix,” an utterly pointless screed containing the deep thoughts of a man whose views on politics are indistinguishable from any of the other Caddyshack extras haunting the Wa-Po editorial board. Cillizza (like so many before him) has made a career out of disguising the comfortable politics of the aristocracy as actually news while occasionally making an ill-fated step into topical humor. In other words, despite his utter lack of insight, talent, or originality, he has job security akin to a Supreme Court Justice despite having yet to publish a piece that isn’t a carbon copy of something David Broder hacked into his spittoon back in 1983.
But don’t think that this impressive inability to analyze or interpret the events of the world would in anyway prevent CC from hitting publish on his blog. Nope! He’s got advice for the President on how to best set the tone for his second term. What does this 36-year-old man-child want the President to do exactly? Well if you guessed “fuck the poors and patronize everyone else” then you are well on your way to an appearance on The Cycle!
A look back at Obama’s first three State of the Union speeches, plus the address to a joint session of Congress in 2009, suggests a similar thematic pattern: He starts with the economy, moves to education and then, in the middle section of the speech, addresses the deficit. (The exception was in 2011, when Obama began his speech with a riff on partisanship.) In 2012, Obama spent just five minutes on the debt — less time than he spent on partisanship (5 1/2 minutes) or foreign policy (six minutes).
He should flip that script in this State of the Union and spend the bulk of his time talking about the deficit. Here’s why: In January 2009 polling by Pew Research Center, 53 percent of respondents said reducing the deficit was a “top priority.” In January 2013, that number soared to 72 percent, by far the biggest increase of any issue over that time. (By contrast, 85 percent said strengthening the economy was a top priority in 2009, while 86 percent said so at the start of this year.)
The debt is the issue of the day, and one that, if Obama is beginning to eye his legacy as president, could go a long way toward shaping how history remembers him. Make this speech a deficit speech.
That loud howl of agony that you heard in the distance was Paul Krugman once again realizing that his efforts to enlighten the press corps to the long term scam that is “fixing the debt” are failing miserably. Cillizza, like so many of his other well-fed brethren in the Beltway, is obsessed with the false “national debt is analogous to household debt” lie that Pete Peterson and Lanny Davis have been trying to sell to dim politicians for thirty years now. To drive home his point Cillizza throws in a few polls showing that Americans are concerned with the deficit (a subject seemingly nobody knows jack shit about) while simultaneously dismissing results from the same poll demonstrating that people are still most concerned about the nebulous idea of “strengthening the economy” (i.e. give us a fucking job now Obama). Then, because Cillizza is a political genius of epic proportions, he thinks it would be a good idea for the President to deliver a primetime address full of detailed fiscal policy to an audience that has trouble grasping the plot of “Mike and Molly.”
But while Cillizza’s deafness to the ongoing suffering of the unemployed, the olds, and children is par for the course in disgusting Washington speak, it is this paragraph that should hit the gag reflex of anyone who doesn’t think that privatizing Social Security would appease the deficit gods into facilitating our shared utopia:
Pick a pet issue, just one. A look at the Pew priorities polling conducted last month is a telling indicator of the public’s priorities. Of 21 issues tested, global warming ranked dead last among those priorities, while strengthening gun laws came in 18th and illegal immigration 17th.
And yet, that trio of issues — along with the economy — has been at the forefront of political and policy discussions in Washington over the past few months. (Circumstances obviously matter here; the shootings in Newtown, Conn., thrust gun laws into a spotlight they would never have had if that tragedy had not happened.)
What that discrepancy should tell Obama is that he needs to tread carefully on those issues in his State of the Union speech, and beyond. While most people would like to see all of them addressed, none are even close to the priority of fixing the economy or reducing the debt. And so, Obama would be smart to pick one — guns seems by far the most likely — and spend real time on it in the speech, with only a passing reference or two to the others.
Cillizza has viewed the great expanse of one lame opinion poll and decided that the American people want MOAR OF THE SAME! People are apparently completely satisfied with the last two years of record setting failure and have firmly decided that tiny problems like the sea levels rising well into our costal areas, the continued shared legal nightmare for 11 million people, and the increasing efficiency of our mass-child murderers are just too boring for the President to talk about for too long during the State of the Union.
The State of the Union is a sacred event for goshsakes, a place where we can lie our way into a war, or talk about that awesome hash-dream we had when we went to Mars, or to call out the Supreme Court for turning our elections into elaborate money laundering schemes. God forbid people have to hear the President speak about subjects that the press ignores for the collective benefit of their audiences.
So please Mr. President follow this wise advice of this glorified mail-room intern. Blow your first chance to speak to the American people by discussing (in excruciating detail) how you plan to remove what is left of the social safety net in order for Cillizza’s lunch dates to maintain their tax shelters in the Caymans. Voters are sure to love their diminishing relevance in federal policy as much as the Sandy Hook parents will enjoy sitting in the same room as the inevitably shit-smelling Ted Nugent.