I did not (as I usually don’t) watch the President’s State of the Union address. I just can’t stand the grandstanding politicians that feel like they have to make their feelings known on every little point of the speech, whether it is by applauding and cheering or by making faces. Yes, adults making faces. I mean, you tell me? Could Eric Cantor be trying any harder to make a face like he just smelled a turd?
Now had he made that face after the President’s awful spilled milk joke, then maybe that would be understandable! I made the same face when I read it! But no, that was just his ‘I disagree with this guy, I hate this man, why do I even have to be here?’ face. You know, just in case somebody might get the wrong idea.
The constant applause/cheering interruptions are even worse. This is a speech that never gets any flow and takes twice as long as it should just because the members in Congress feel like taking an impromptu vote on every thing. (President: “Today…”, Congress: “Yay!!!! It IS today!!!!!”) Would it be so wrong for Congress to stay respectfully quiet and just let the President deliver the address? There’s plenty of time for actual discussion (instead of applause, groans, faces) after the fact.
So anyway, that was my long-winded way of explaining that I didn’t watch the speech, I read a transcript of it instead. My general impression is, as just about always with Obama, the man delivers a good speech. When it comes to the general themes, there wasn’t just a whole lot I disagreed with. We as a nation absolutely need to get back into the business of making stuff. There is absolutely too much incentive for companies to move jobs to other nations. We absolutely need to do a better job of getting the unemployed the skills they need to match up with the jobs that are available. We absolutely need to invest into this country, into infrastructure and into education. We need tax reform. We need a smarter, more efficient government.
But I have come to terms with the fact that as good as President Obama is at delivering speeches, he is just not as good at pushing his agenda (at least his spoken agenda) through Congress and into law. I think this is where Obama’s lack of experience bites him. I think Obama sees his job as creating a general vision and setting priorities, then it’s up to Congress to draft up the specifics to fulfill that vision and work on those priorities. And while that might be a nice notion, that’s not how things work in Washington. One side is working actively against you, while the other side is too incompetent to help.
I believe this is where my frustration with Obama stems. In the areas where I agree with him, he is unable to do much without Congressional action. Now I do realize that it would be tough to do anything with this bunch we have right now (their low approval rating is well-deserved!). But I do believe that a more experienced statesman could have perhaps squeezed a little more results even out of this group. On the other hand, the areas where I don’t agree with Obama, those are areas where either Obama can act without Congressional action or where Congress chooses not to take action to prevent the President from implementing certain policies (this is mainly foreign policy/terrorism/civil liberty type issues). So this is why he comes off as so bad to me, he has no obstacle from implementing policies I don’t like, while he gets stymied from implementing anything I do like.
But I am not sure where else to go. It’s not like the Republicans are offering an alternative to those policies that I don’t like, and then of course they disagree with Obama’s policies everywhere else. This is likely going to be a lesser of the two evils type of vote, and boy if the Republicans actually nominate Newt Gingrich, they are going to make that choice easy!