What a Week!

I have been M.I.A. as I have been preparing for the upcoming semester and enjoying the last little bit of break. Though I live-tweeted all of the big political events last week (catch them here), I did not have a chance to blog about each one, so this is my attempt at summarizing a really exciting week in politics and football.

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On Monday night, Alabama beat Clemson (rollllllllllllllll tide!) to win the second play-off National Championship.

(full game below) (pic after the win below)

Highlight - so many, but the off-side kick gamble was uncharacteristically marvelous and Coker's tearful interview with reporters afterwards was sweet. Best highlight, though, was seeing Coach Saban nearly in tears (certainly, by Saban standards, he was practically bawling) over the team's success. As a Bama fan and alum, I was thrilled with the outcome. I should note that Clemson's QB, Deshaun Watson, lived up to the hype and played a great game; he is a tremendous talent and proved it.

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On Tuesday night, we had a political double-header with both the State of the State for Indiana at 6:00 pm and then the State of the Union at 9:00 pm.

Highlight - For the SOTS, Governor Pence addressed the elephant in the room when he dedicated almost 5 minutes at the end of his speech to the state's recent RFRA issue. It was a highlight because it was exaclty the kind of topic Hoosiers were tuning in to hear and though I was personally surprised he would mention it and speak at length on it, he was likely concerned with the ramifications if he did not. Another highlight was Pence's explicit disagreement with the House Republicans in funding improvements for infrastructure, particualrly with the latter's cheif archietict, Brian Bosma, sitting immediately behind him. Bosma revealed earlier that the Republicans plan includes an increase in cigerette and gasoline tax to pay for expensive road/bridge fixes; Pence countered that Hoosiers are already overtaxed and by increasing lines of spending, dipping into state reserves, and borrowing some money, no tax raise would be nessecary. Line drawn, mic dropped. It should definitely be interesting to see how this plays out in the upcoming legislative session.

For the SOTS, President Obama displayed his usual wit despite a new face behind him as Paul Ryan has taken over John Boehner's role as Speaker of the House. Obama's joke about not agreeing on healthcare policies (what he has hoped would become the lasting legacy of his administration) elicited some laughter from both sides of the aisle (metaphroically and physically). Though I thought he would discuss gun control more, given his recent executive actions, the highlight was tucked in the end of his speech when he challenged the system of gerrymandering and called for a more fair and equitable system of representative allocation. As the President, it does not directly impact him (and as a lame duck, nothing involving elections does any more) so he is in a safe position to comment. Still, the process of gerrymandering is inherently political and at the federal level, where Congressional representatives essentially pick their own voters, many could argue it is "unfair." (Some states have non-partisan commissions tasked to this work, though in Indiana, our state legislature also draws their own district lines, so I am not picking on Congress here, just wanted to explain potential variations.)

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On Thursday night, we had a Republican debate that eliminated yet another seat on the stage (this time allowing only the top seven contenders a spot).

Highlight - Cruz and Christie really stood out to me in this debate, and though others who I have routinely noted perform well (Rubio, Kasich, etc.) did fine, too, I thought the Texas Senator and New Jersey Governor did the best they have done yet in the campaign. Trump flounded on the "birther" argument with Cruz (which, in itself is a very bizzare argument but since the moderators brought it up, the two candidates fought over it). Cruz retorted with lines that had to have been rehearsed but were well-delivered and poignient nonetheless, tying in his hearlding of the Constitution and leading to a few bursts of applause. Speaking of the Constitution, Ron Paul was absent, not making the cut, as was Carly Fiorina. Though their presence was missed by their respective supporters, narrowing the field to seven was a smart move, as the conversations seemed the most in-depth yet in the season.

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On Sunday night, we had a Democratic debate, the last one in fact, and Martin O'Malley joined the two front-runners for the most heated Democratic debate we have seen so far.

Highlight - The tone and rhetoric of this debate was drastically different from the previous two (the first coming on the heels fo the Paris attacks and the second just days before Christmas). Sanders and Clinton focused their fights on each other, while O'Malley tried to interject with only slight success. The highlight of the debate for me was when Clinton, pressed for her stance on healthcare and her response to Sanders' changing position on it, explicitly aligned with the current administration and essentially said she would be the constant continuity while Sanders would be the radicial change. This is the biggest difference between the two candidates and raises and issue that the Democrats have to consider as primaries quickly approach. No one has clearly articulated this difference in quite the same way, but in a nutshell, it is the most important divergence between the two candidates.

What a week! Can we do this again next week? Just kidding, I have classes and I am excited to get back to teaching and working with students. But if you were anxious...

- 0 more days until the next Democratic debate (because there aren't any more.)

- 10 more days until the next Republican debate (January 8th)

- 106 more days until the Indiana primary elections

- 229 until college football begins AND

- 295 more days until the Indiana general elections

#2016 #democrat #republican #alabama #football #SOTS #SOTU #debate #pence #cruz #trump #clinton #sanders

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