Obama echoing Marco Rubio in SOTU?

Rubio, like most of his Republican colleagues, didn't think much, as it turns out:

"Tonight, I had hoped to hear the President outline real solutions to fundamentally tackle our national debt crisis and help clear the way for urgently needed job creation.  Instead, we heard him talk about more ‘investment,’ which is what most Floridians I know would simply call more government spending.  Instead of fruitlessly turning to government to create jobs, we should be working to cut spending, promote free enterprise initiatives and give job creators the certainty they need to hire more workers.

“While I was encouraged by the President’s support for an earmark ban and will work with him towards that goal, his call for a mere budget freeze does not go far enough in tackling our record debt.  At the very least, we should freeze non-defense and non-veterans discretionary spending to what it was before Washington began its unprecedented, record-setting spending binge two years ago.  But most importantly, we need to finally begin fundamentally reforming the way our government spends the American people’s money.

“In 2011, both parties have a golden opportunity for true cooperation on complex issues of great consequence.  If we take care of business, our children and grandchildren will one day thank us for giving them the chance to inherit the greatest society in human history.  For President Obama and Congressional Democrats, it’s a chance to prove they heard the American people’s call for fiscal discipline in November.  For Republicans, it’s a chance to practice what we’ve preached by being responsible stewards of the American people’s tax dollars.  As Florida’s senator, I will work with anyone else who believes 2011 has to be the year when we stop postponing the tough decisions.”

Wisconsin Republican Representative Paul Ryan, hyped on the Drudge Report earlier Tuesday with the headline "A Star is Born," was solid in his rebuttal that came right after Obama left the building.  But one couldn't help but notice that the thing that turns him on to many (but not all) of his Republican colleagues, his discussions about privatizing Social Security and doing serious readjustments to Medicare, were never uttered.

I passed out after that, unfortunately missing Michele Bachmann giving the Tea Party official response on CNN.

Well, as usual the State of the Union address is taking ups up gobs of media attention, though it's debatable how much of what this president (or others before him) will actually accomplish vs the goals laid out last night.  But hey, it keeps everybody who covers politics busy for a couple of days!

In recent memory, the only notable SOTU's that we can recall was George W. Bush's calling out Iran, North Korea & Iraq as the "Axis of Evil" in the David Frum/Michael Gerson penned speech of 2003, and back in 1998, when television cameras caught the Texas twosome of Tom Delay and Dick Armey looking very dour as President Clinton brought the audience to its feet, just weeks after the Monica Lewinsky kerfuffle had gone public.

One very positive aspect about the date night aspect of last night's speech, where Democrats and Republicans (well most of them not named Mitch McConnell) tried to find members of the other party to sit next to as an act of civil unity, was that there was less of that inane jumping up and down by the members of the president's party (which would be Democrats this year), making a long speech even longer.

Oh this speech was long all right, clocking in past an hour.  But can you imagine if there had been more silly applause lines?

Anyway, you can range far and long for commentary about what people thought of the speech.  We have to admit that we had the volume down low, as we were writing a post on the Tampa mayoral and city council forum in Seminole Heights.

Nevertheless, what did stand out to us was how Barack Obama never sounded like he loved America more than he did last night, and in that respect it was very "Reaganesque" that term that seems to be used more frequently than ever (maybe it's because the former icon would have turned 100 this month if he was still around).

But Ronald Reagan, nor Barack Obama, or anybody has exclusive dibs on being patriotic.  But as some commentators refer to the president's referencing American exceptionalism, who has spoken more tirelessly on that subject in the past year and a half than Florida's own junior U.S. Senator, one Marco Rubio?

The National Journal's Ron Fournier wrote last night that the two best presidents at invoking American exceptionalism were Reagan and JFK:

As Obama noted, new technologies and a new economy have put livelihoods at risk, and America’s competitors—particularly China and India—have adjusted more quickly than the United States.

“And so yes, the world has changed,” Obama said, putting his finger on the source of many Americans’ anxiety. “The competition for jobs is real. But this shouldn’t discourage us. It should challenge us.”

“Remember,” he said, "for all the hits we’ve taken these last few years, for all the naysayers predicting our decline, America still has the largest, most prosperous economy in the world. No workers are more productive than ours. No country has more successful companies, or grants more patents to inventors and entrepreneurs. We are home to the world’s best colleges and universities, where more students come to study than any other place on earth.”

In other words, you’re right to worry, America, but don’t ever forget: We’re No. 1.

“If a president wants Americans to feel better about him, he has to make them feel better about America first,” said John Baick, professor of history at Western New England College in Springfield, Mass.

Baick said Republican Ronald Reagan and Democrat John F. Kennedy are the best modern-day examples of presidents who appealed to America’s strong national identity. Reagan spoke of America as a “city upon a hill,” a phrase borrowed from Puritan leader John Winthrop, one of the first Americans to express the new land’s exceptionalism. Kennedy challenged an anxious, Cold War-bound nation to land a man on the moon, a memory Obama evoked Tuesday night by speaking of “our generation’s Sputnik moment.”

But what did the man who has made so much of American exceptionalism in 2010 think of the speech? (And by the way, did you catch Marco looking like he could barely stay awake at one point as he cozied up with Bill Nelson?)

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