Following President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address last night, Professor of Political Science Iva Deutchman was interviewed by the Finger Lakes Times, offering her professional observations of the address.
“What do you rebut?” she said. “In other words, he reached out across the aisle. He talked about working together. What are the Republicans going to do?”
In addition to Deutchman, the article provided the perspectives of local political representatives and figures, including John Hurley, Ontario County’s Democratic chair, Rep. Tom Reed, R-29 of Corning, and Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, R-25 of Syracuse.
Deutchman said Obama’s criticism of Congress could help him in the fall campaign. She also believes that the president managed to stay above the fray.
“To the extent that the Republicans are interested in destroying each other, which is what you’re seeing [in their presidential candidates], and providing so many points of criticism of each other, he looks like a breath of fresh air,” she said.
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.
The Finger Lakes Times
Prez: Drill for natural gas
In State of the Union, Obama calls for responsible tapping of reserves
Jim Miller • January 25, 2012
GENEVA – President Barack Obama’s conditional endorsement of drilling for natural gas won praise from several local residents last night.
During his 9 p.m. State of the Union address, Obama called for responsible exploitation of the nation’s natural-gas reserves, with full disclosure of the chemicals used in the drilling process.
“I think it was acknowledging something that everyone understands, which is that this is a huge issue with passion on both sides,” said John Hurley, Ontario County’s Democratic chairman. “You can’t duck it. It’s there. If your choice is securing your energy future at the hands of a dictator in the Middle East or securing your energy future with American ingenuity and technology, I think most people are going to say the risk is much less when we put our future in the hands of Americans working on behalf of Americans.”
While Obama’s position wasn’t new, mentioning it during the State of the Union brought added attention to the issue. Drilling locally has been embroiled in controversy because of environmental concerns. While the industry says it’s safe, activists worry that hydraulic fracturing – one method for extracting the gas – could cause serious harm.
Obama’s hour-long State of the Union address touched on education, foreign policy, jobs and Washington dysfunction. He called for state laws to keep kids in school until at least age 18, comprehensive immigration reform and higher taxes on wealthier Americans.
“I have to say, I think it would be a very hard speech to rebut,” said Iva Deutchman, a political science professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva. “What do you rebut? In other words, he reached out across the aisle. He talked about working together. What are the Republicans going to do?”
Rep. Tom Reed, R-29 of Corning, provided part of the answer. “I was appreciative of the words and the rhetoric that I heard, but I was concerned that it was more politics than actually putting out some detailed proposals,” he said.
Reed, who spoke with the Times by phone after the speech, praised Obama’s commitment to natural-gas development but criticized him for proposing additional spending without detailing how he would pay for it. Reed also disagreed with Obama’s tax proposals, which he said was an example of Washington picking winners and losers.
Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, R-25 of Syracuse, took issue with Obama’s fiscal policy as well.
“This country has a spending problem that the president refuses to deal with directly by showing fiscal restraint,” she said in a press release last night. “Instead, he continues to propose unsustainable budgets that he intends to pay for by imposing tax increases on our job creators. We cannot tax ourself into prosperity.”
Deutchman gave the speech a better review. She thought it was too long, but she believes most people will see it as a well-crafted, open-minded speech in which Obama tried to reach across the aisle.
She said Obama played it smart politically by not proposing major new initiatives.
“You don’t come forward with an ‘I need a bazillion dollars to save lives’ when people aren’t going to give it to you,” she said.
Obama’s criticism of Congress could help him in the fall campaign, Deutchman said, but the president also managed to seem somewhat above the fray. “To the extent that the Republicans are interested in destroying each other, which is what you’re seeing [in their presidential candidates], and providing so many points of criticism of each other, he looks like a breath of fresh air,” she said.
Hurley praised Obama’s speech too. He called it a rallying cry for Democrats and independents, one that showed Obama’s commitment to the middle class and manufacturing. He also liked Obama’s statements about putting aside differences to work together.
“It’s a theme he kept returning to, while at the same time pretty openly acknowledging that there’s differences and that they’re not going to get everything done, but even within that context there was tremendous opportunity to move the country forward,” Hurley said.
Reed and his fellow Republicans heard those words, also. Reed thinks Congress will work with Obama to permanently extend the payroll tax cut and pass infrastructure and transportation bills. However, Reed added a caveat.
“The rhetoric is good, the words are good, but it’s actions and deeds that America needs now,” he said.