I can’t identify the point in time when viewing the State of the Union address went from a painless and sometimes enjoyable exercise in patriotic responsibility to the sensory equivalent of watching paint dry while listening to water drip. Certainly one’s desire to tune in has to do with your opinion of the current star of the show. My opinion of the President can’t get much lower, so I tuned in out of a sense of civic duty. Several observations:
With the shape our country is in, Mr. Obama’s speech really amounted to “putting lipstick on a pig.” Let’s be honest, with the unemployment numbers the way they are, particularly in light of the masses who have left the workforce, the national debt ticking up by the second, the winding down of war in two locations (that aren’t looking very good,) and the general malaise of the country, he had his work cut out for him. He gave it his all, I suppose. As usual, he threw out facts and figures as if they were believable. Do we really think that 9 million Americans have signed up for Obamacare? And after all of those who have lost coverage, do we really believe that there is a net gain? Do we think this albatross of a program will ever succeed? The State of the Union is supposed to be the President’s report to the American People, through Congress, regarding the current condition of the country. Yes, he had a tough job.
I have thought for some time that the reason Obama has kept Joe Biden around is for comic relief. I’m always entertained by the various looks ole Joe gets on his face while he stands loyally behind and to the side of his boss. Usually, the expression says, “How do I look? Do I look okay? Do I look smart?” Of course there is always the pointing into the crowd, as if to people he knows. All politicians do this, by the way, and it signals, “I’ve got lots of friends out there. This is my crowd.” At Tuesday’s address, however, Joe did it at an inopportune time. I’m not sure his boss would have liked it. The boss wants to be the star of the show and don’t anyone dare take the spotlight off him.
The grand entrance and exit of the President has always been entertaining… kind of a political “red carpet.” I’m told that some of the members of Congress get their very early, like Hollywood’s red carpet, to stake out their seats. They do this in order to maximize face time with the President. Whether it is playing to the cameras or to the President himself, I find this a waste of time. But you see many of the same faces, who continue to get re-elected, year after year mugging it up. This almost pales in comparison, however, to those who shove their programs at him, seeking his autograph. Really? Is this the behavior that we expect out of those who are supposed to be running the country?
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the presence of Sergeant Cory Remsburg, the Army Ranger who was invited to sit in the gallery next to the First Lady. It was a touching moment in the chamber when everyone on both sides of the aisle, and everywhere else, stood and acknowledged the service of this wounded warrior. Maybe there is some hope for Congress finding common ground after all. Surely this President would not invite this brave and damaged soldier to the event in order to gain support by modeling his own life struggles with those of Sergeant Remsburg. Surely not.
I have many friends who no longer tune in to this annual report. They don’t have the stomach for it, they say. Or, I can’t watch that man for that long. I’m starting to understand their point of view.