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A Genuine Offer or Desperate Measure?

2011 State of the Union Address

I sit stunned.  Nearly speechless, though many of you who read my op ed pieces know that doesn’t last long.  Watching the State of the Union address this evening, for the first time, I have been pleasantly surprised.  Our president spoke like a president tonight.  While I won’t go so far as to say that I agreed with everything he said, again he spoke as my president.  Right, I know that he is the president, whether I have always liked it or not.  However, I had a moment of pride in the president tonight. 

Ironically, pundits are coming out in droves to comment about this speech and the pervading, descriptive word is “flat.”  I find this interesting and I disagree.  It was the first speech where I could glean a sense of humility.  He recognized that there were things about the government (his administration) and policies that needed to change.  He gave a nod to the vast disagreement about healthcare.  He was optimistic, but realistic.  Whether his motives were impure or not, whether he recognizes that his party is in trouble, I don’t know.  I just felt this speech was different.  He appealed more directly to Americans, not red or blue.  And just because he didn’t yell or break-out the southern preacher dialect, that doesn’t mean the speech was flat. 

Now.  I hope and pray that there is follow through from this speech.  I won’t hold my breath.

There were several amusing moments, most notably, was the representative backdrop.  Our vice president seemed to randomly giggle and laugh.  Was he on something?  Wait.  We are talking about “Say it ain’t so” Joe Biden.  And then there was the newly posted Speaker of the House, John Boehner, who looked utterly bored.  The contrast was highly comical.  Further, the president threw in a couple of charming puns and lighthearted jabs at governmental disputes. 

And I believe it is the first speech in history to have featured the word, “salmon.”

That is funny stuff.

Unfortunately, there were moments that were funny which were absolutely unintentional.  For example, the adamant notation of “refusing any bill that has any loopholes or earmarks.” 

Whoa. 

WHOA, WHOA, WHOA!  Déjà vu, oui oui?!

We heard that many times while campaigning, but sadly, the spending spree that this administration has wildly enjoyed has been liberally sprayed with earmarks and loopholes.  Lobbyists have gotten their platform and closed door sessions with the president.  Ironically Mr. Obama named a new mode of transparency on the internet where we can know exactly who is meeting with lobbyists, etc. Correct me if I’m wrong, didn’t he run on the whole “transparency/change” bit?

We are three years into this thing, yes?

I didn’t agree with everything the president stated.  I don’t accept justifying the past circus spending that has pervaded this government, but I finally felt a sense of uniting and American pride from this president.  While Mr. Obama didn’t overtly apologize and step all over what has been done, I sensed for the first time, a genuine attitude (perhaps, it’s “Oh crap!” mode, who knows) that acknowledged the will of the American people. 

Further, I didn’t know the worst of the recession was over.  Did you?  I’m astonished that the spending has actually created and/or saved jobs.  And lastly, the contradiction between comments about the success in Iraq and the current state of Afghanistan and Pakistan puzzles me.  Thinking that putting a timetable for military withdraw is a good idea and that the state of these war torn countries is “on par” puts me in a state of hysterical giddiness.

The highlights of the speech that broached the chasm between then aisle (other than the cozy idea of Republicans and Democrats sitting together, holding hands) included finally (FINALLY!) freezing the spending, honoring soldiers as the most deserving of our respect, and admonishing all colleges and universities to allow military recruiting. 

His final, best moment of the night came with this quote,

And yet, as contentious and frustrating and messy as our democracy can sometimes be, I know there isn’t a person here who would trade places with any other nation on Earth.

Only time will tell whether this was a transforming moment in the government.  I fear that the damage is irreparable, but I will hold out hope that the message of the American people actually, by some miracle gets through. 

 Then again, maybe it is just an oratory gift and a fancy teleprompter.

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For the full 2011 State of the Union Address transcript click here.

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