Each of these proposals deserves a vote in Congress. If you want to vote no, that’s your choice. But these proposals deserve a vote. Because in the two months since Newtown, more than a thousand birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun.
One of those we lost was a young girl named Hadiya Pendleton. She was 15 years old. She loved Fig Newtons and lip gloss. She was a majorette. She was so good to her friends, they all thought they were her best friend. Just three weeks ago, she was here, in Washington, with her classmates, performing for her country at my inauguration. And a week later, she was shot and killed in a Chicago park after school, just a mile away from my house.
Hadiya’s parents, Nate and Cleo, are in this chamber tonight, along with more than two dozen Americans whose lives have been torn apart by gun violence. They deserve a vote.
Gabby Giffords deserves a vote.
The families of Newtown deserve a vote.
The families of Aurora deserve a vote.
The families of Oak Creek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg, and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence – they deserve a simple vote.
But defending our freedom is not the job of our military alone. We must all do our part to make sure our God-given rights are protected here at home. That includes our most fundamental right as citizens: the right to vote. When any Americans – no matter where they live or what their party – are denied that right simply because they can’t wait for five, six, seven hours just to cast their ballot, we are betraying our ideals. That’s why, tonight, I’m announcing a non-partisan commission to improve the voting experience in America.
As we do, we must enlist our values in the fight. That is why my Administration has worked tirelessly to forge a durable legal and policy framework to guide our counterterrorism operations. Throughout, we have kept Congress fully informed of our efforts. I recognize that in our democracy, no one should just take my word that we’re doing things the right way. So, in the months ahead, I will continue to engage with Congress to ensure not only that our targeting, detention, and prosecution of terrorists remains consistent with our laws and system of checks and balances, but that our efforts are even more transparent to the American people and to the world.
We know our economy is stronger when our wives, mothers, and daughters can live their lives free from discrimination in the workplace, and free from the fear of domestic violence. Today, the Senate passed the Violence Against Women Act that Joe Biden originally wrote almost 20 years ago. I urge the House to do the same. And I ask this Congress to declare that women should earn a living equal to their efforts, and finally pass the Paycheck Fairness Act this year.
The greatest nation on Earth cannot keep conducting its business by drifting from one manufactured crisis to the next. Let’s agree, right here, right now, to keep the people’s government open, pay our bills on time, and always uphold the full faith and credit of the United States of America. The American people have worked too hard, for too long, rebuilding from one crisis to see their elected officials cause another.
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In a phone call from the Capitol immediately after the State of the Union address last night, President Obama informs John Buchanan that his daughter Jessica, a kidnapped aid worker, was rescued by U.S. Special Operations Forces in Somalia earlier that evening.
Official White House photo by Pete Souza
Obama’s central point should have been that since America’s founding, government has built much of the public infrastructure that makes American capitalism possible. And since the progressive era, it has been government’s efforts to humanize and stabilize capitalism that has ameliorated the savage cycles of boom and bust that have fueled chaos and revolution overseas. It is today’s Republicans, Obama should have said, who have forgotten this core truth about America.
Peter Beinart says President Obama came up short in last night’s State of the Union.
We’ve also got best moments of the speech and a round-up of our contributors’ takes on the address.
Frontpage: Jan. 25th
- Obama Pitches New ‘Buffett Rule’: In a populist State of the Union address last night, President Obama touted a revamped “Buffett Rule”— the idea that people making more than $1 million a year should pay at least 30 percent in income taxes.
- U.S. Raid Rescues Pirate Hostages: When President Obama stepped into the House to give the State of the Union last night, he pointed to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and said, “Good job tonight.” The reason? American commandos—the same team that carried out the bin Laden mission—had just dropped into Somalia by helicopter, killed nine pirates, captured several others, and freed two aid workers, including an American woman, who had been held captive for months.
- Gingrich PAC Buys $6M More in Ads: Gingrich’s super PAC quickly spent all $5 million of a donation from the wife of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson on airtime in Florida. The ad accuses Romney of being identical to Obama.
- GOP Response Knocks Obama: Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels made Republicans gave a stern rebuttal to the president’s State of the Union address Tuesday night. “We do not accept that ours will ever be a nation of haves and have-nots; we must always be a nation of haves and soon-to-haves,” Daniels said after the speech.
- Marine Spared Jail for Iraqi Massacre: Marine Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich will not go to prison for the killing of 24 Iraqi civilians.
Photo: U.S. President Barack Obama greets Representative Gabrielle Giffords with a hug, before his State of the Union address. (Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg-Getty Images)
Frontpage: Monday, Jan 23rd
- Obama to Go Populist in Speech: If President Obama’s third State of the Union address sets the tone for his campaign, expect to hear a lot more about jobs, class struggle, and equality.
- Newt Opens Up Lead in Florida Poll: Looks like Gingrich has some solid momentum going into Florida— a new poll puts him 8 points ahead of Romney.
- Syria Rejects Arab League Plan: Sunday, the Arab League called on Syria’s President Assad to peacefully resign and hold elections for a national unity government. Syria immediately rejected the plan.
- EU Adopts Iran Embargo: In the latest attempt to step up pressure on Iran, the European Union adopted an oil embargo against Iran and froze the assets of the country’s central bank.
- Blackberry CEOs Step Down: Just get an iPhone already.
Photo: Chinese folk artists in Beijing prepare to celebrate the Lunar New Year of the Dragon. (Feng Li / Getty Images)