Ah, the State of the Union address. 68 minutes of political theater sandwiched between hours of political punditry with a delicious side of everybody live-blogging it. There were some awkward moments and some serious ones, and some talk about gays.
First up was the requisite bragging about all the great stuff Obama did in the last year. Biggest thing: Just a little thing he likes to call saving the entire country from total economic meltdown. But Obama would also acknowledge in a funny way the unpopularity of the bank bailout that saved the world:
Our most urgent task upon taking office was to shore up the same banks
that helped cause this crisis. It was not easy to do. And if there's
one thing that has unified Democrats and Republicans, it's that we all
hated the bank bailout. I hated it. You hated it. It was about as
popular as a root canal.
Ha ha, everyone hates banks!
Then there were all tax cuts Obama. People loves tax cuts as much as they hate banks. At least, that's what Obama thought; but, no, only Democrats applauded his tax cuts. Obama acknowledged this paradox with a cute little off-the-cuff remark, pointing to Republicans and saying "I thought I'd get applause for that."
That was sort of awkward. Also awkward was how Obama bashed the Supreme Court as they sat right in the front row in their funny dresses, trying not to make eye contact with dad as he scolded them:
Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for
special interests – including foreign corporations – to spend without
limit in our elections. Well I don't think American elections should
be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by
And there were other awkward parts: Like when Obama was talking about the tax freeze and dismissed his critics with a "That's how budgeting works." And how he announced his plan to set up monthly meetings with GOP leaders with a snappy "I know you can't wait." What's with all the jaunty japes and jabs? We were almost expecting an iPad period joke.
But Obama got serious when talking about how the economy is in the tank, and we have a bunch of heavy problems that need to be fixed. This is what pundits like to call the "laundry list," which always confused us because who makes a list when they're doing laundry? Is it a list of every item of clothing you're cleaning, or what? Maybe a shopping list would be a more appropriate metaphor.
If it was a shopping list, then the first thing on there would be organic, locally-sourced jobs. Jobs are really in right now. Everyone wants one! Obama spent like 20 minutes talking about jobs; about the small business owners who provide them and the random people he met somehow who don't have them. Jobs working on the railroad; jobs in clean energy. Jobs.
Also, gays. Gays will be able to shoot guns for us in the military soon, if Obama has his way:
My Administration has a Civil Rights Division that is once again prosecuting civil rights violations and employment discrimination. We finally strengthened our laws to
protect against crimes driven by hate. This year, I will work with
Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay
Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are.
But it wasn't all boring list-type stuff. Obama also made many references to the tough spot he's found himself in these past couple weeks and months. Everyone was wondering what the hell Obama was going to say about the health care bill he spent so much time on, now that it looks about to be shot down by a naked senator. Turns out the main problem was that he didn't "explain it" clearly enough? He should have plenty of time to explain himself better, though, since he made it clear that he will continue the health care fight.
this is a complex issue, and the longer it was debated, the
more skeptical people became. I take my share of the blame for not
explaining it more clearly to the American people. And I know that
with all the lobbying and horse-trading, this process left most
Americans wondering what's in it for them.
Perhaps most interesting was when he invoked his own campaign slogan—almost wistfully—in reflecting on the hardships he's faced:
I campaigned on the promise of change – change we can believe in, the
slogan went. And right now, I know there are many Americans who
aren't sure if they still believe we can change – or at least, that I
can deliver it.
But remember this – I never suggested that change would be easy, or
that I can do it alone. Democracy in a nation of three hundred
million people can be noisy and messy and complicated. And when you
try to do big things and make big changes, it stirs passions and
controversy. That's just how it is.
Sort of hopeful, kind of feisty, and grimly determined. That's just how the SOTU was.