Posted on January 13, 2016 in Countdown

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The State of the President's Union with Patience

The President Obama's final State of the Union Address was meant to optimistically take stock of the progress the nation has made under his 7 year Administration, and it did. But did anyone else get the sense that the President was unafraid to paint a decidedly discordant vision of his relationship with Congress? Right off the bat, nobody missed the blatant teasing of the presidential candidates in the crowd who would rather be in Iowa campaigning for votes ahead of the all important caucuses February 1st. And certain high profile guests of members of Congress not only didn't get a handshake but also got a pretty clear "not gonna happen" regarding Republican efforts in Congress to dismantle some of the President’s most proudly held accomplishments like so-called Obamacare and marriage equality. And defying Congressional wishes, President Obama's wide-ranging speech skipped right over the incident of American sailors being detained by Iran. We did catch some pretty great moments of unity though, like the bi-partisan standing ovation for President Obama’s condemnation of bigoted rhetoric and policies playing out on the campaign trail and in the halls of Congress, as well as the halls of middle schools across the country. And we've got to applaud the 12+ members of Congress who put a face to that important part of the President's speech by inviting an American Muslim constituent from their district to attend the speech in person. And even we were tearing up when the camera panned to the recently resettled Syrian refugee Refaai Hamo sitting in the First Lady's box that night. 

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Nikki Haley and the Right Response

Nikki Haley stepped up to the plate to deliver the official Republican response to the last Obama State of the Union - and since her predecessors fell painfully flat in past years, the Governor of South Carolina was pretty much set up to succeed. But Gov. Haley's response got more than an up or down rating, it seems to have laid bare the growing fracture within the Republican Party between the Party's establishment and the likes of Donald Trump and his supporters. Her decision to go after Trump has led to an appallingly par-for-the-course response from Trump and other far right fear-stokers within the GOP who used some thinly veiled racial language to criticize Haley, who happens to be an American of Indian Sikh decent. Gov. Haley enjoys a consistent 2/3rds approval rating in the electorally significant state, but the electoral path to victory has never seemed to matter to Mr. Trump as much as a shocking applause line. It's what his supporters expect, and it's what they got.

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You Can’t Know Joe

Just because Vice President Joe Biden decided against running for the higher office this year doesn't mean he isn't making his presence known in the race. Joe's comments last week on Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders came just about as close as we can remember to a Vice Presidential primary endorsement - he surprised us all with a pretty clear endorsement of Senator Sanders' policies, not Secretary Hillary's. It's surprising not because we thought he was in Camp Hillary all this time, but surprising because he made it publicly known that he isn't. His comments only poured salt on Hillary's critically wounded effort to unite the Democratic Party behind her candidacy. Even though the Democratic National Committee can reasonably be accused of anointing her, the Party's institution has come under sustained internal fire for its less than democratic actions that obviously favor Clinton at the expense of the other two candidates. I mean, are they serious about the debate schedule? But with Joe's low blow and Sanders surging in the polls, Hillary's need to keep the Democratic foot soldiers in line is not only desired, but necessary. The anointed candidate is having to deal with the unexpected candidate and not always doing so successfully.

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No Sweet Home in Alabama for Refugees

Remember when we made fun of the Governors who declared - without a shred of authority to do so - they would not accept Syrian refugees in their state? Yeah, we thought we were funny too. We were even more impressed by the many voices who came out to denounce the fear-mongering, politicking, and unhelpful overreaction that the actions of those Governors embodied. But now we're back to the mat fighting attempts by two states (so far) who are exploring more legal options to slam the door to victims of ISIL looking for refuge in our country. Last week, Alabama became the second state to do so after Texas, and the first since the SAFE Act was temporarily stymied by the Senate. But the SAFE Act - which will in effect end the resettlement program - is up for consideration again next week in the Senate, and once against we're calling on you to stand against this bad idea. Take Action

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