It's been a while since pals Tavis Smiley and Cornel West took up the task of challenging President Obama from his left flank. The talk-show host and the philosopher have taken some heat for their criticism of the president, notably from political scientist Melissa Harris-Perry.
The new poverty numbers came out today, and they aren't pretty. The Census Bureau reports that more than 15 percent of Americans are living in poverty--a number that's gone up for three consecutive years and is the highest it's been since 1959.
Many aspects of governing exist outside the president's control, via rhetoric or anything else.
In 2008, both enthusiasts and enemies of a new New Deal misjudged Obama. They also misjudged the circumstances he faced.
It's hard to know what to say about State of the Union, since the speech Tuesday was long on examples of the results of good policy but short on the policy itself. ("As I understand it," offers Matt Yglesias, "gay soldiers will win the future by riding high speed trains to salmon farms.") Here are a few assorted thoughts.