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September 8, 2011

Obama’s Jobs Address: Key Optics

Screen shot 2011 09 08 at 9 10 18 PM

Screen shot 2011 09 08 at 9 11 09 PM

If Obama gave a solid speech last night to a joint session of Congress, one that was concrete and action-oriented, and maximally designed to appeal to the GOP (while still leveraging them with the American people), there were plenty of moments, some overt, some more subtle, that kept me from going all-Pollyanna.

If you watched the speech, you probably observed how often Obama directed his words and gaze to the right-wingers. The two frames above and the two frames of reaction below (27:54 to 28:04) correspond to the part of the speech where Obama said:

Now, I realize that some of you have a different theory on how to grow the economy.  Some of you sincerely believe that the only solution to our economic challenges is to simply cut most government spending and eliminate most government regulations.  (Applause.)

You probably didn’t catch the smirk, it was so instantaneous, but you can see it in the screen grab, a flash of dismay and contempt followed by the lawmaker’s smug and defiant response. The frames leave me wondering how this cycle will be any different from before: a deft speech leading to appeasement leading to mostly a brick wall.

Screen shot 2011 09 08 at 9 14 19 PM

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If more subtle, another exchange that caught my eye occurred at the immediate end of the speech. Although Obama and Boehner interacted graciously just before he got going, when Obama finished, filled with a head-of-steam, he shook hands and expressed warm solidarity with Biden, then, in a cold if inadvertent act, he pivoted and completely blew off the Speaker.

Screen shot 2011 09 08 at 9 24 18 PM

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Finally, I’m always interested in Michelle’s body language during these SOTU-style speeches (36:57 – 37:01).  Sure, as soon as he finished, the White House began spinning the talk for all it’s worth, and an energized Obama — in full 2012 campaign mode — is about to hit the road to take his plan (over GOP heads) to the American people.

Still, Michelle looked plenty concerned.

Transcript. C-SPAN video.

  • Anonymous

    It is a sad, terrible time. The GOP will not agree to anything Obama and the Democrats propose. All they want to do is to put a stop to everything, they do not care if the economy is ruined, they do not care if tens of millions of Americans who are looking for employment cannot find anything. The GOP believes that if they continue in this manner, the American public will have to vote them back into power. It will probably happen. Then watch out. The GOP and Tea Party will destroy the middle class and working people and things will never be the same. It looks inevitable at this point.

  • http://twitter.com/BallerinaX BallerinaX

    Boehner looks nervous though, he is biting his bottom lip in the first end-o-speech frame. So there’s that. I’m hopeful

  • bks

    Obama looks just like Jack Benny:

    http://triblocal.com/wheeling/files/2011/07/jack-benny.jpg

         –bks

  • http://www.serr8d.blogspot.com/ Serr8d

    I’ve got your ‘key optics’ ri’cheer.

  • Stella

    Michelle is not the politician.  She’s very real and open, this can’t be fun for her.
    I spent most of the speech focussing on the fact that I was looking at two democrats wearing flag lapel pins and a republican who was not.

    • Linda

      Good catch, I didn’t even notice that. I would now like to see proof that Boehner is fro this planet at all, considering his odd color he could very well be a space alien. Birth certificate NOW, please.

  • Anonymous

    The speech was great, but Boehner sat behind Obama with a disinterested stare all the way through. That’s why Michelle looks sad – because the Republican party is determined to walk us off a cliff, and there’s very little we can do about it. Nice of you to call Obama out as an appeaser, Why not call Boehner out as an incompetent boob?

  • Anonymous

    In fact, why not call out the entire GOP as the anarchists and traitors that they are? Is it helpful to blame Obama for this extraordinary situation? What, exactly, do you think he should be doing differently? He can’t win, but he’s managed to eke out some progress while the naysayers whine about his appeasing, caving, DINO methods. Perhaps you’d prefer to have no health care bill at all, no stimulus at all, no improved regulations at all. Perhaps you’d be happier with a guy who plays to the progressive base but loses every fight.

    • jonst

      I would be happy with someone who stuck to their ideals and campaign promises. Now go ahead and apologize some more for him.

  • Linda

    I actually had to watch Michelle Obama’s body language several times because it seemed so, well, almost inappropriate. Obama came out all fire and brimstone, which to me he sadly does only when he’s campaigning or talking about war, but the First Lady seemed to not even want to make eye-contact with him. It doesn’t look like “worry” to me, it looks like anger. Very deep seated anger. At whom? Perhaps at the entire Congress, right or left. Because as I watched her I noticed her keeping her eyes down and away from the body of government that WILL NOT PASS THIS JOBS BILL regardless of the bipartisan proposals offered in it. Even though it is a long overdue jolt to the economy we all are desperate for. Well, those of us who don’t drink Tea-tainted Kool-Aid.

    Or perhaps it was a way of not having to even catch a glimpse of the most arrogant orange man on the face of the planet, who also had a hard time with his body language. While Biden “bobble-headed” to every sentence the President made, Mr. Agent Orange could barely contain his abject disgust at having to sit behind “the black cloud” hovering over our nation. It was a “facial” display that makes the President’s choice to shun him at the end of the speech a very good choice indeed.

  • http://www.revrob.com Rev. Rob

    It’s hilarious watching the republicans scramble to find an excuse as to why they’re against tax cuts. Another $450bn on the deficit is notning compared to what we’ll gain. 

    POLL: Was President Obama’s jobs speech the right blue print for creating jobs?
    Vote: http://www.wepolls.com/p/2365719

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=810889128 Molly Whipple Douthett

    I hadn’t noticed the snub of the Speaker. Heh.

    I also noticed Michelle’s expression. I thought she looked sad. I interpreted it as supreme concern for his health and safety. Maybe as the spouse, she sees her partner moving away from her and he won’t be back for a long time. In this hateful climate, it’s possible he might not come back at all.

  • Quagmiremonkey

    Obama’s fight isn’t about jobs, a subject he has ignored since early 2009 and now rushes back to with too small proposals that have no chance of passage and — preceded by months of harping on the deficit — little chance of rehabilitating the reputation of liberal solutions.

    In this speech he predicts what the real fight will center around. He and the super committee are on the verge of forcing Americans to accept cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, needlessly inflicting poverty, suffering and death on the most vulnerable.

    This is a conservative warrior in the midst of a feint to the left.

  • Quagmiremonkey

    Obama’s fight isn’t about jobs, a subject he has ignored since early 2009 and now rushes back to with too small proposals that have no chance of passage and — preceded by months of harping on the deficit — little chance of rehabilitating the reputation of liberal solutions.

    In this speech he predicts what the real fight will center around. He and the super committee are on the verge of forcing Americans to accept cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, needlessly inflicting poverty, suffering and death on the most vulnerable.

    This is a conservative warrior in the midst of a feint to the left.

  • tinwoman

    Those smirking legislators are laughing at us.  Even they don’t believe the austerity B.S. hey are pushing.  They just think it’s hysterically funny to get richer while we get poorer and carry more and more of he burden, meanwhile they don’t even know how many homes they own.

    When I see that sea of pasty old white men faces grinning and sneering, I just want to smash something.  I just really, really feel violent when I see them laughing about this subject.  It’s unendurable.

  • pmoment

    jonst, I would call Obama supporters “apologists” as much as “clear-eyed realists” since the facts – if you’re into such things – speak for themselves.

    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/obameter/

    I’m not sure what “sticking to their ideals” means to you, but considering that over 90% of the President’s campaign promises either kept, in the works, fulfilled by compromise, or just plain stalled by the nastiest unilateral unified opposition we’ve seen in a while, you’ve got one helluva purity test.

  • jonst

    @7e12e748480a919d5515be906d87ef8e:disqus
    ….personally, I would not describe Obama’s opposition as “…he nastiest unilateral .”unified opposition we’ve seen in a while.”  They may indeed be that…but that is not how I would describe them. I would describe the as the most dangerous group of bastards the US has seen since the Slaveholders of the 1850s.  And I suspect we are heading down the same road as the nation was in the 1850s. Not inevitable mind you, but I suspect that might be where we are going.  If you think that Obama, and the manner, style, and substance of his leadership is the way to oppose this group…..than you go with him. With sprint!   But for me, personally, I find his, and the so-called Centrists,  ‘me too!, only half as much as them’ style to fail, as you write, my “purity test”.  Fuckem both….because that is what they are both saying to the American people.  They, both political parties, are simply shifting private debt onto the public ledger….and in doing so dramatically reducing Americans’ standard of living.  And given the debt being dumped on us….there is no choice but to reduce the standard. The same thing is going on in Europe today.  And they, both parties, cannot do this…they are not strong enough, yet…..to do this through democratic means….so they have to create Super Committees and such to go outside the normal democratic processes.  I repeat…..Obama’s your guy, and his policies your policies, or, the best you think the Americans can get….go with him.  Not me.

     

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