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President Obama’s recent State of the Union address featured “Winning the Future” as its theme, and innovation as an organizing principle. This rhetorical device was a great success in terms of framing a set of complex issues in terms that can appeal to a wide swath of the public and their elected officials, which is surely necessary to advance an urgent agenda in many of the areas he discussed (education, energy, infrastructure), and we applaud the effort on that skillful basis alone. Obama also succeeded in generating an aspirational sensibility and an appeal to self-sacrifice, both needed remedies for our current malaise. If only the progressive wing could do this better, and more often.
But the devil of real tangible achievement will most certainly be in the details, which are worth looking at carefully. So let’s ask some challenging questions. Read the rest of this entry »