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By Tom Cushing

The Blogger?s Dilemma, and a few thoughts on the 'SOTU' speeches

Uploaded: Jan 31, 2014

Today's challenge ? why bother to try writing a serious column when The current Most Popular article in the nation's sober newspaper-of-record dissects the waxing trend away from grooming one's au naturelles? That dissertation limits its undercover work to ladies' fashion-driven preferences, but ? just a guess here ? it may have some broader appeal to the Times' readership.

So ? ahem, now that I have your avid interest, let's discuss a few take-aways from the State of the Union. Please stick around ? you'll have to read to the bottom to get a link to the Times article, anyway. And I promise I won't use the silly acronym 'SOTU' again. Ever, I hope.

First, it's a remarkably thin Obama agenda. Apparently, five-years of Republican obstructionism has finally convinced the Prez that he's been Charlie Brown to Lucy's football. The grand bi-partisan anticipations with which he arrived have been beaten onto life-support. That really is a testament to the effectiveness of the minority strategy, which is not at-all to say it's good governance. The GOP has managed to set the tone, and lower expectations to something vague on immigration. Good for them; bad for the country.

Second, the scalded-dog yelping about Mr. Obama's plan to differentiate himself from the do-nothings via unilateral Executive Branch tactics has been wondrous to behold. "Komandant Obama" tweeted one Congressman, even before the speech. And "we did not elect a dictator" came out again thereafter. Seriously folks, Obama has issued fewer Executive Orders than any President since that other famous totalitarian, Grover Cleveland. If new EPA regs overreach, Congress is free to bestir itself and block them. And if you still remain convinced that this is an imperial presidency, please see the first point, above.

Third, from our small favors department comes the demonstration of how badly broken the Loyal Opposition party remains: not one, two or three retorts to the President's message, but four. The TeaPer wing itself was not content with only a single response, and trotted-out two of their own. Perhaps they will each have one someday. That's bad for governing, when no one can really speak for the House majority in any unified fashion, but it will be the gift that keeps on giving electorally ? if you don't believe me, ask Mike Castle, Richard Lugar and others.

Fourth, the double standard remains alive among Beltway pundits, who gave a free pass to the wincingly shallow performance of the GOP's official, if token responder, Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers. She spent way too long on her apple-pie bio, intoned 'Obama bad' the requisite several times, and claimed thrice to have 'ideas' but never described Any of them ? not one. It was amateurish, and so weightless that one has to assume she was tethered to her sofa. Is that really the best you can do on that pesky gender gap, GOP? To be sure, it was better than letting good ol' Uncle Mike go public with his worst instincts, but Pogo was right. That beat goes ever on, and it's ever tougher for women to dance to it.

As further evidence of Rodgers' free pass, it took several days for fact-checkers to zero-in on her claims, such as the one about "Bette from Spokane" and her reported tribulations with ObamaCare. Those fact-checkers were in Washington State, by the way, not Washington, DC. They revealed locally that Bette had had a catastrophic non-policy with a $10K annual deductible, her comparison cost was overstated by $200/month, AND she has never even gone on the state's exchange to seek the better deals offered there. And yet, she was trotted-out as evidence that "ObamaCare isn't working."

Asked for a response, Rodgers' office has called Bette "a composite of hundreds" of her constituents. Others might call her a "fabrication." Indeed, as Tim Egan points out in a Times article that no one will read because: bikini lines(!), "? in her district, people are flocking to Obamacare ? well beyond the national average. Though she has been screening town hall meetings to highlight only critics of the new law, her constituents are doing something entirely different in making their personal health decisions." Every initiative should not work so well.

Her home turf is also heavily subscribed in food stamps, farm subsidies abound, and it has a good-sized Air Force base. Government, however, is the problem. It's remarkable that the voters of such a place have elected such a Representative who is so at-odds with their needs, but that's a topic for another installment of the blog. She must make a mean apple pie.

You skipped to here, didn't you? So be it. Here's the link you're seeking. Hurry back.