Clinton, Obama Steal Show

Clinton, Obama steal Bush’s final show
By Alexander Bolton

All eyes were on Democratic presidential frontrunners Sens. Barack Obama (Ill.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) Monday night as spectators and pundits followed their every move during President Bush’s final State of the Union address.

Clinton set observers atwitter when she waded through the crowd before the speech to shake hands with Democratic dean and senior Sen. Edward Kennedy (Mass.), who made headlines Monday by endorsing Obama in the primary.

For the second year in a row, Obama sat next to Kennedy for the president’s annual address. Yet despite this, Clinton managed to miss Obama’s attention as she chatted with Kennedy while reporters looked on hungrily from the overhanging balcony.
The race between Obama and Clinton has become colored with growing animosity in recent weeks as each side has leveled veiled accusations that the other has used race as a political weapon.

But Obama and Clinton seemed to see eye to eye on Bush’s domestic agenda, sitting firmly on their hands through most of the first half of his speech.

“I think there is some consensus in the Democratic Party,” Obama said in an interview with CNN immediately after the State of the Union when asked about the lack of difference between him and Clinton on economic policy.

Clinton and Obama’s divergent views on the troop surge in Iraq, however, were plainly visible.
When Bush proclaimed, “Ladies and gentlemen, some may deny the surge is working, but among terrorists there is no doubt,” Clinton sprang to her feet in applause but Obama remained firmly seated. The president’s line divided most of the Democratic audience, with nearly half standing to applaud and the other half sitting in stony silence.

In one instance Clinton appeared to gauge Obama’s response before showing her own.
When Bush warned the Iranian government that “America will confront those who threaten our troops, we will stand by our allies, and we will defend our vital interests in the Persian Gulf” Obama jumped up to applaud. Clinton leaned across Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), seated to her left, to look in Obama’s direction before slowly standing.

The Illinois senator strongly criticized the former first lady last year when she supported a resolution calling for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard to be designated a terrorist organization. Obama supporters and other Democrats charged the vote would give Bush political cover to begin military operations against Iran.

There also appeared to be some division among Democrats Monday over whether to continue to pump money into the Iraq war effort. When Bush said he would “ask Congress to meet its responsibilities to these brave men and women by fully funding our troops,” Obama and Clinton remained seated while Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) stood up behind them to applaud.

Dissension was not limited to Democratic ranks. Though a mostly united GOP caucus applauded Bush enthusiastically throughout the speech, the president received a mixed response from Republicans when he asked Congress to strengthen the No Child Left Behind Act, his signature legislative achievement in the area of education reform. While many Republicans clapped to endorse No Child Left Behind, Sen. Charles Grassley (Iowa), ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee remained motionless. Grassley is one of seven Senate Republicans to cosponsor legislation that would significantly reform No Child Left Behind. The Bush administration opposes the bill.

While many Republicans applauded Bush’s announcement that he would issue an executive order directing his administration to ignore earmarks contained in conference reports accompanying future spending bills, some lawmakers voiced skepticism.

“We’ll see about that when the time comes,” said Hal Rogers (Ky.), a senior Republican member of the House Appropriations Committee.

After his speech, Bush sought out Kennedy, his former partner in education reform, to exchange greetings. He also shook Obama’s hand and said hello in typical Bush fashion: “Hey buddy, how’s it going,” he said, according to Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who also sat next to Obama for the speech.

1 comment:

Todd said...

Hillary had to lean over to see Obama's reaction (who jumped up to applaud) then to have her own reaction by rising slowly?

I know Hillary is older than Obama, but I didn't know she is THAT old. She kept saying that she was ready to lead the first day on the job, but she couldn't even decide to applaud or not. Obama didn't wait for her reaction. He had his own. Looks like he is a leader, and she is following his lead.

If we can't even trust her for deciding to agree with the President's speech or not, what can we trust her to lead us with? Just like Bill, she is going to make every decision by following the poll? Another polling president? No need for that again.

Leader. Follower. Hillary doesn't belong to the former. She belongs to latter, but "very slowly".