Associate Professor of Political Science DeWayne Lucas and Professor of Political Science Iva Deutchman are quoted in an article in the Jan. 26 issue of the Finger Lakes Times about the President’s State of the Union Address. The article sought input from local political party representatives and faculty members.
Lucas, the article notes, “thinks both sides may come away thinking that Obama didn’t do enough for them.”
“I think what he needed to do was change the tone of sort of the debate and to sort of position himself in the middle of the liberal wing of his party and the conservative wing [of the Republican Party]. I think he did it on a number of counts but didn’t do it on others,” says Lucas.
Deutchman, the article notes, “had stronger praise for Obama, calling it an effective and well-done speech with ‘a hell of a reach’ across the aisle,” citing traditional Republican priorities.
“The other thing is, let’s pay attention to what he didn’t say,” Deutchman is quoted. “He didn’t spend the whole speech talking about gun control and stuff like that.”
A member of the faculty since 2000, Lucas holds a B.A. from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and his M.A. and Ph.D. from State University at Binghamton.
Deutchman, a member of the HWS faculty since 1987, holds a Ph.D. and a master’s degree in political science from the University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor’s degree from Hofstra University in political science and economics.
The full article follows.
Finger Lakes Times
Locals react to Obama’s efforts to find middle ground
Jim Miller • January 26, 2011
If President Barack Obama was trying to extend a hand across the partisan divide during last night’s State of the Union address, not everyone here was quite ready to shake it.
“He’s in a position where I think he has to say a lot of this,” said Sandy King, a tea party activist who chairs the Yates County Republican Committee. “He’s trying to move to the center. I just don’t know how sincere he is.”
King found the speech high on rhetoric and low on substance, but Wayne County Democratic Chairman Ed O’Shea gave the president higher marks.
“What I was struck by was the fact that he did seize the agenda in the sense that the theme latelyhas been reduce the size of government, reduce the debt,” O’Shea said. “I think he indicated that the challenge we have in the country is much broader than that, much bigger. And I thought it was particularly important that he started with the idea that we need to reduce the rancor in Washington.”
He said Obama responded to issues that Republicans consider important without backing down on Democratic priorities. On the health care bill, for example, Obama offered to make improvements but rejected Republican efforts to repeal it.
But finding the middle ground can be a tricky proposition.
DeWayne Lucas, associate professor of political science at Geneva’s Hobart and William Smith Colleges, thinks both sides may come away thinking that Obama didn’t do enough for them.
“I think what he needed to do was change the tone of sort of the debate and to sort of position himself in the middle of the liberal wing of his party and the conservative wing [of the Republican Party,” Lucas said. “I think he did it on a number of counts but didn’t do it on others.”
Lucas’ colleague, HWS Political Science Professor Iva Deutchman, had stronger praise for Obama, calling it an effective and well-done speech with “a hell of a reach” across the aisle.
She cited Obama’s mention of traditional Republican priorities, including reducing regulation.
“The other thing is, let’s pay attention to what he didn’t say,” Deutchman said. “He didn’t spend the whole speech talking about gun control and stuff like that.”
But Lucas said he wasn’t overwhelmed. He thinks the president’s aisle-bridging efforts fell short when it came to deficit reduction.
King and fellow Republican Dan Olson also had some concerns.
Olson, who chairs Wayne County’s Republican Committee, said Obama’s “fixation” on high-speed rail seemed odd, and he also objected to his call to rescind the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
“I did like what I heard… about reorganization of government,” Olson said. “My God, that was something that was with the Contract with America that [former House Speaker Newt] Gingrich did.”
King noted that Obama called for both infrastructure spending and deficit reduction, but she did like the end of the speech.
“He was very patriotic,” she said. “He cited vice president Biden and Speaker Boehner, how they’ve gotten to where they were because of the American dream and everything, and I thought that was very good.”
The area’s local House members – all Republicans – sat with other upstate representatives, including Democrats.
Traditional party-line seating was abandoned in the wake of the Jan. 8 attempt on the life of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Freshman Rep. Tom Reed, R-29 of Corning, said other members told him there wasn’t as much of a circus atmosphere this year.
“I appreciated the president’s tone when he was recognizing that this had to be a bipartisan effort,” Reed said. “He acknowledged that, and I accept that.”
Reed agreed with Obama’s commitment to helping the private sector but said he doesn’t see the spending freeze Obama proposed as a solution to the deficit.
Fixing that will take significant, long-term cuts, Reed said. “He can definitely engage in the rhetoric,” Reed said of Obama.
“The problem I have is, I was hoping the president would recognize the deficit problem more.”