(Writer's note: The agreement with the syndicators requires these columns appear here a week after their newspaper release)
^`WINNING THE FUTURE’ ALSO INCLUDES THE 2012 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION@<
^(For use by New York Times News Service clients)@<
^By BOB FRANKEN@=
^C.2011 Hearst Newspapers@=
WASHINGTON _ We get it, Mr. President. We need to ``Win the Future.’’
You said some variation of that point nearly a dozen times in your State of the Union address, so consider the message signed and sealed.
The delivered part is something else. To see how that goes, we will have to wait for the, uh future.
Wasn't it nice to see all those Republicans and Democrats sitting next to each other, without even holding their noses? But President Obama had it just about right in his speech when he said, ``What comes of this moment will be determined not by whether we can sit together tonight, but whether we can work together tomorrow.’’
We didn't have to wait till ``tomorrow’’ to see how that would work. Just a few seconds later, on the very same night, all we had to do was watch. As Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn., raced to the cameras to speak derisively for the Tea Party. ``For two years,’’ she declared, ``President Obama made promises just like the ones we heard him make tonight. Yet still, we have high unemployment, devalued housing prices and the cost of gasoline is skyrocketing.’’
Bachmann seems to fancy herself the real Republican leader, as opposed to people like Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, or Rep Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
In the official GOP response, Ryan wasn't being all that conciliatory himself: ``The facts are clear: Since taking office, President Obama has signed into law spending increases of nearly 25 per cent for domestic government agencies _ an 84 per cent increase when you include the failed stimulus.’’
The president definitely got it right when he was discussing the future we need to win by also predicting that ``it will be harder because we will argue about everything. The costs. The details. The letter of every law.’’
Isn't that what has gotten us into this mess? It's going to take a lot more than a few touchy-feely moments where people pair off for an hour or two of camera-contrived togetherness.
It brings to mind 1914 in Belgium, where allied troops and the Germans fighting in the first year of World War 1 declared a Christmas truce and met in no man's land for holiday greetings before they resumed shooting at one another.
(Oh, that's right, we're not supposed to rely on violent imagery. Is the word ``skirmishes’’ all right?)
In today's political skirmishes, the ``no person's land’’ (hey, it's the 21st century), is a huge gap where the two sides are taking shouts at each other. What's fascinating is that while they're on opposite sides, they both claim to be on the same one.
As the man said, ``It's the economy stupid,’’ but while President Obama talks about government spending and a five-year freeze as a way of cutting it, the most ardent of the Republicans are making demands for gutting it.
The president also returned to raising taxes on the wealthy and spoke of eliminating subsidies for the oil giants. Silence from GOP members, no matter where they were sitting.
What nobody is really saying a lot about is cutting Social Security and Medicare and the other entitlements where the real money is _ and where the real political peril is. Let's not get carried away with this ``Winning the Future’’ stuff.
The immediate future is going to see lots of posturing as both sides try and clobber the other into submission over the budget. One can also know for sure that both sides will have the voters in mind when the partisans are doing and saying whatever they do and say.
So when Obama used his State of the Union catch-phrase, he left off a word. The complete thought would have been ``Winning the Future Election’’ __ in 2012.
(E-mail: bob(at)hearstdc.com; on the Web: www.bobfranken.tv