NY JENNIFER HARPER
Lofty rhetoric with a lofty price: the National Taxpayers Union has conducted a line-by-line analysis of President Obama's lengthy State of the Union address to discover that the actual price tag for all those words would add $39.995 billion a year to the deficit.
"Even though the president largely reiterated or reframed issues that have long been on his party's current agenda, the proposals for new federal expenditures he outlined would still add up to a hefty price tag," said Demian Brady, director of research for the group. "His push for new mandates, regulation, and tax hikes, particularly on energy, will give taxpayers and business owners plenty to be wary of."
The most expensive single item? That would be immigration reform. The latest legislation passed by the Democratic-controlled Senate, the "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act," would cost $20.2 billion annually, Mr. Brady notes.
HUBRIS AND GODZILLA: THE MINI-REVIEWS
And the spell lingers. President Obama's State of the Union address will be a catalyst for analysis at least until the Sunday talk shows crank up and have a go. Scores of reactions, pre-buttals and rebuttals from everyone else, meanwhile, have been unleashed via press releases, broadcast appearances, tweets and blog posts. Here's a few, slimmed down from original statements, with apologies to the speakers in question.
"The extreme hubris and naivet that emanated from that speech was something new and alarming," (Sarah Palin); "Obamacare — all by itself — is an inequality Godzilla that has robbed working families of their insurance, their doctors, their wages and their jobs," (Sen. Mike Lee, Utah Republican); "All in all, the state of our union is a big mess created by Republicans and Democrats," (Libertarian Party executive director Wes Benedict); "If the president made one thing clear tonight, it is this: It's his way or the highway" (Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks).
And a few more: "The strength of our Union is in our states, not Washington," (Texas Gov. Rick Perry); "Success is created in studio apartments and garages, at kitchen tables, and in classrooms across the nation, not in government conference rooms in Washington." (Sen. Tim Scott, South Carolina Republican)
And more: "For a moment, I thought the news accidentally reran last year's State of the Union, because all I really saw was more of the same," (Gregory Angelo, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans); "Lots of backslaps, handshakes and kisses from the ladies as Pres Obama makes his way out of the House Chamber." (CBS New White House correspondent Mark Knoller, in a Tweet); President Obama's State of the Union once again advanced the narrative that women are a victim class in need of greater government protection," (Sabrina Schaeffer, executive director of the Independent Women's Forum).
THE PEOPLE SPEAK
The audience was a little smaller. Nielsen ratings of the aforementioned State of the Union address place the number of viewers at 33,299,172 — down from 33.5 million a year ago, and the lowest number since 2000. The media giant also tabulated that 2.1 million speech-centric Tweets were abuzz during the broadcast. Meanwhile, Fox News won the ratings race among cable news networks, drawing 4.7 million viewers; MSNBC won 2.2 million, CNN 2 million.
And reactions? Forty-four percent of speech watchers had a very positive reaction, down from 53 percent in 2013, with 32 percent saying they had a somewhat positive response and 22 percent with a negative response, reports CNN political editor Paul Steinhauser, following the network's insta-poll of 371 Americans who watched the event.
The favorable rating is below the 48 percent who said they had a very positive reaction to then President George W. Bush's 2006 address as he began his sixth year in the White House, the poll found. Another two-thirds said that President Obama should seek "bipartisan compromise when dealing with major issues, with just 30 percent advocating the President make unilateral changes."
Former Minnesota governor and pro wrestler Jesse Ventura still eyes the big ring. The big political ring, that is.
"Some say if Jeb Bush ran against Hillary Clinton we would probably have a very good race, well thought-out, no backstabbing, good issues, two concerned bright Americans. What do you make of that?" Larry King, host of the RT America's "Politicking" show, asked Mr. Ventura in a broadcast airing Thursday on the network formerly known as Russia Today.
"If Jeb Bush ends up against Hillary Clinton, that's going to pave the way for Jesse Ventura to be the next president," the man himself replied, later explaining, "If I run as an independent I will be a true independent The way public sentiment is right now, Larry — I mean I would run on this — I offer the people of America, I challenge them to elect the first president since George Washington, the father of our country, that doesn't belong to a political party. Imagine that. And I think the way it is today, you could win on that issue alone."
Interesting timing. Twenty percent of Democratic lawmakers have already endorsed Hillary Rodham Clinton as a 2016 presidential hopeful, and a grassroots super PAC has already raised $4 million for her yet-to-be declared campaign. Now here comes a little Hollywood help, perhaps. CBS is now producing a TV pilot with the help of veteran actor Morgan Freeman titled "Madame Secretary," a drama with all the trimmings.
The very attractive and tousled blonde actress Tea Leoni will star as the lead character in question — one Elizabeth Faulkner McGill, which has a nice Hillary Rodham Clinton sort of ring to it. Well, the syllables match, anyway. She plays a school teacher turned federal official.
"Madam Secretary centers on the personal and professional life of a maverick female Secretary of State as she drives international diplomacy, wrangles office politics and balances a complex family life," explains Lesley Goldberg, a correspondent for the Hollywood Reporter.
SEXUAL POLITICS 101
"Feminist Perspectives: Politicizing Beyonc."
Behold, this is a new spring semester course at Rutgers University's Department of Women's and Gender Studies.
"This isn't a course about Beyonc's political engagement or how many times she performed during President Obama's inauguration weekend," instructor Kevin Allred told Rutgers Today, a campus publication. "Rather, the performer's music and career are used as lenses to explore American race, gender, and sexual politics."
POLL DU JOUR
• 64 percent of Republican voters have a positive impression of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; 16 percent favor him as the Republican presidential candidate in 2016.
• 58 percent have a positive impression of Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin; 8 percent favor him as the Republican candidate.
• 58 percent have a positive impression of Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky; 11 percent favor him as the candidate.
• 56 percent have a positive impression of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; 14 percent favor him as the candidate.
• 45 percent have a positive impression of Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas; 8 percent favor him as the candidate.
• 40 percent have a positive impression of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; 13 percent favor him as the candidate.
Source: A Public Policy Polling survey of 457 likely Republican primary voters conducted Jan. 23-26.