January 27, 2010

C.U. Responds to Obama

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Despite the ills plaguing the nation — two wars and the economic recession — President Obama managed to make his audience do something it hasn’t done in quite a while: laugh. While students reacted with mixed feelings to Obama’s State of the Union address and his first term in office, they agreed that his upbeat demeanor proved refreshing in an otherwise bleak year.

“He had some funny things to say,” Jake Welch ’11 said. “I thought it was more entertaining than [previous] State of the Union addresses.”

“President Obama made a good speech, and he related all his points to Americans and demonstrated why they are important for you and me,” said Michael Schillawski ‘10, president of the Cornell Democrats.

Despite the recent drops in President Obama’s approval rating, Schillawski remains confident that voters will not turn away from the Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections.

“I think that a lot of the drop in President Obama’s approval rating can be attributed to people believing that he was disconnected from them. In this speech he decisively showed that he understands their problems …. [He] laid out what he what he wanted to do and what his priorities were until November, and he’s putting the American people first,” Schillawski said.

Many voters have expressed discontent with Obama’s increased spending and his proposed healthcare bill. During the address, Obama countered Republican criticisms of increased spending, explaining that the spending was a necessary consequence of fighting two wars.

Schillawski agreed.

“We’ve spent a lot of money fixing problems that we’ve inherited from the previous administration… [and Obama] reiterated in the speech that there really was no alternative [to the increased spending],” Schillawski said. “But now the priority has to be putting the American worker back to work and relieving the burden of the middle class American, which was what his speech was committed to doing.”

However, many Republican viewers thought Obama placed too much blame on the previous administration.

“With the obligatory blame on the Bush presidency, Obama failed to mention his own failed promises,” stated Konstantin Drabkin ‘11, president of the Cornell College Republicans, in an email. “I wish that the President had addressed his own role in the collapse of the public financing system as the first major party candidate to reject public funds.”

Drabkin went on to point out several deficiencies in the President’s first term, namely that the unemployment rate has remained steady at 10 percent.

“Why was there no mention of the many jobs in districts that do not exist on recovery.gov?” asked Drabkin.

According to Drabkin, the President has failed to keep his campaign promises such as posting bills online and holding health care debates and negotiations through CSPAN. Furthermore, Drabkin criticized the President’s handling of the Christmas Day bomber.

“The epic failure of instantly giving Miranda rights to the Christmas Day bomber was not addressed, nor did the President defend his decision to spend $200 million dollars to hold a show trial for the 9/11 mastermind in NYC,” Drabkin said.

Drabkin also attacked what he saw as blatant partisanship in the President’s address.

“I was shocked to hear the President of the United States criticize the Supreme Court with them present and allow Democrats to stand up and applaud that criticism,” said Drabkin.

Contrary to Drabkin, Schillawski applauded Obama for his willingness to work with Republicans.

“Despite Republican overtones in the last twelve months, President Obama remains committed… and he shows he continues to be committed to working with the Republicans in Congress,” Schillawski added.

Some even felt that the speech was too bipartisan. Many Democrats worry that since the Democrats no longer have a super-majority, too many concessions will have to be made, especially regarding the pending healthcare bill.

“He’s being a bipartisan person, and I’d like to see him further to the left,” said Jake Welch ‘11. “I’d like to see a single payer option [in the healthcare bill].”

However, despite gripes — from the right and left — with Obama’s policies and performance, his address went a long way in re-establishing his public image.

“He reminded [the Republicans and the American people] that he has a personality,” Welch added.

Original Author: Emily Greenberg