January 26, 2011

State of the Union (2011)

You know what the most underrated benefit to running a blog is? It's really easy to go back in time. I had no idea what Obama's last State of the Union address was like so I dug into my archives to read my reactions to last year's speech. It turns out (and this is from a good source) that last year's address was very combative and he took on just about everyone. I find this to be strange, and if I didn't trust the author so much I'd probably dispute his claims. After all, when I think of Obama I automatically think calm, soothing thoughts.

Last year he was trying to wrap up the loose ends on his big promise to reform the health care system. This year it seems he's more focused on one of his other big promises: changing the tone of political discourse.  

We've been waiting for this new civility for two years and lately we've actually seen some of it (despite a terrible tragedy being the catalyst). President Obama gave a very unifying speech last night. He put forward an agenda that both sides should be able to find agreement on. He finally appears ready to make good on his promise of change and for a while there I think everyone was ready to drink the kool-aid. Hell, his speech even brought the leader of the opposing party to tears (which admittedly isn't as hard as one would think).

Who knows, maybe that emotional response could make Speaker Boehner pause and put country before party. Maybe he will embrace the parts of the Obama agenda that he can sell to his constituency. Maybe some real work will get done over the next two years. Maybe I should remind myself that I'm an atheist and that I don't believe in fairy tales. Or, perhaps, real change does start with the hope that seemed so tangible two years ago, so utterly destroyed last year, and strangely possible right now?

If we really do want things to change, we have to change. It won't be done for us. Each and every one of us needs to look in the mirror and decide what kind of country we want to live in. Do we want an America that prefers hyperbole to results? Or, do we want to live in a country where people aren't afraid to roll up their sleeves and get things done? Perhaps I'm just an optimist and we are in fact, doomed. But even if it was only for a few moments, for just one night, it felt really good to think that we are a united nation on the rise.

Image taken from: http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2011/0126/Obama-State-of-the-Union-2011-US-must-win-the-future-through-innovation

24 comments:

  1. DUDE! I had the same feeling last night, and I have to say, I thought the new seating arrangements to be AWESOME.

    I also liked his emphasis on innovation and the economy. Who won the Science Fair vs. the Superbowl or US Weekly's Sexiest Man Alive. Ok, he didn't quite say it like that, but the sentiment was there.

    He definitely seemed to talk a lot about "working together" which I think is extremely important. The strangest moment for me was at one point McCain gave him a standing ovation, and Kerry could be seen in the background, looking asleep. Well that and the fact that all the high-up military folk sat on their hands when he mentioned gays in the military. Grow up.

    Sure he fumbled a couple of the jokes, but I'll forgive him. Last night was the best I have felt about living here since I moved.

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  2. Kev: Yea, it was definitely a good sing I think. I haven't watched the news yet today so I'm not sure how well it went over but it was a start.

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  3. i can't really comment on the politics, because i know nothing of it, but i do know that obama is such a good speaker.
    my english teacher is in love with him.

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  4. obama isn't going to change anything. The only thing he succeeded in was his healthcare bill but that is going to be it in my opinion while he is in office. I can't wait for the state of the union address to see what he has to say about the economy because as an investor, wall street is waiting to see what he has to say.

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  5. Hey watchman, better check your watch, it was last night.

    Keep the faith!

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  6. Well, another State of the Union come and gone, and STILL he hasn’t forced everyone to become gay Muslim abortionists.

    I really thought this was going to be the year…

    Oh well. At least most of the Republicans had Democrats sitting next to them to cover their mouth when they started to shout “You lie!” or whatever.

    You have a much more optimistic attitude than I have, Christopher. Which is good!

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  7. Interesting to hear your reactions to last years. I glared at the tv through a lot of it. And nodded in agreement through other parts. Let's hope it's not just the republicans who can "put country before party."

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  8. helen: He is a wonderful speaker, makes things a lot less boring.

    watchmen: Well, when you get around to watching it you'll probably like the part where he said he was going to lower the corporate tax rate.

    Katy: I'm totally a gay muslim abortionist now. It was fun to watch because no one really looked like they knew when to stand up. They all just sat down and clapped.

    Janet: Well I'd argue that Obama has been more than amenable to working with the Republicans and many of the Republicans have come out and said that their number one goal for the new Congress was to make sure Obama was a one-term President. They need to budge, Obama has done plenty and been pretty good about it I think.

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  9. I was disappointed. Not that I expect a lot but he is the president who people thought was gonna grab america by the balls and change it, I don't feel much change and his speech was putting me to sleep.

    You can read about this on my blog.

    But in all honesty, I was trying to write a real post the whole day and couldn't think of anything to say. The most entertaining part was watching Biden to see if he was really going to cry.

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  10. Penny: Admittedly talking tax policy, education and the structure of government may not always be riveting but I think those are achievable goals and if he can make a meaningful impact on just one of them it would be a huge change to our country so I disagree with you that he hasn't changed anything.

    Also, I'm a political junkie so I get pretty excited about stuff like the corporate tax rate so I really enjoyed it.

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  11. Penny: "The most entertaining part was watching Biden to see if he was really going to cry."

    Is BIDEN the guy who was sitting behind Obama who is known for crying?
    I thought… Oh never mind. I need to go look up who is who, I guess…

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  12. I thought it was a rather great speech.

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  13. Oh, and while I appreciate this new avatar, I miss you old one. :)

    Lola--> out.

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  14. Shit. I meant YOUR old avatar. (I type fast and don't check for typos, like the lazy slacker that I am. Sorry.)

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  15. Lola: Yea, I liked the one with me passed out on a park bench too. Going to try this one out for a while but we'll see if I stick with it.

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  16. I was so tired I fell asleep and didn't watch it. It's time for me to catch up with the rest of the world now.
    Great post!

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  17. Lydia: I enjoyed it, but I enjoy every state of the union because I'm just a nerd like that.

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  18. i was hugely disappointed. i was watching van jones speak downtown (also underwhelming as all he talked about was, ironically, obama!) and came home and watched SOTU on youtube and the man has the balls to talk 'clean coal', 'safe nuclear', and looking at drilling in protected areas again. i turned off the tv after that. he HAS done a hell of a lot, but his environmental record sucks to high hell. there is no such thing as clean coal or safe nuclear, and it shows me more and more that when it comes to the earth, it's not a priority for him. sigh.

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  19. I didn't get a chance to watch it last night. I'll have to Youtube it. But my husband told me that Obama gave a shout out to teachers, so it sounds like the best speech ever.

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  20. I'm pleased we're finally seeing the Obama we elected. It got off to a rocky start, which was NOT his fault. He became a leader during a very difficult time and change does not happen over night. And you're right, if we want change, we have to realize we are part of the equation as well.

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  21. I think we tend to overplay the power politicians have. Change is difficult and once the SOU is over, the question is whether tangible results will come to the fore or whether Partisan bickering will continue.

    They usually make great feel good speeches. lets see if they feel like do something abt it afterwards when the cool aid wears off.

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  22. Hey dude, I done gave you an award. You can read about it here:

    http://highway10revisited.blogspot.com/p/updates.html

    Feel free to follow the rules, or not follow the rules. Don't matter to me either way, just wanted you to know about it.

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  23. I had a lot of mixed feelings about Obama's SOU. I was disappointed he didn't mention gun control issues, and didn't spend enough time on secondary education, which is woefully inadequate in this country. (In fact, he made it sound much better than it really is.)
    What he did quite skillfully, though, by way of examples, was to talk about a certain value system (whether American or not) that this country (its people) sorely lacks. Until the good people of this country get out from behind their XBoxes, TV's, away from mass media, away from mass consumption, away from the idea of instant gratification and throwaway everything, and decide to make a major shift in their priorities.
    And I think we need to start at ground zero: eduction. Unless that happens, this country is going to hell in a handbasket (to quote... I don't know who). There is no overnight fix, we may not see the changes we desire in our lifetime, but we have the ability to start making small changes now that can, and hopefully will, affect future generations for the better. That's right, you may never see the benefit of your actions, but you may help to preserve,for your children or grandchildren, what little's left of this world.
    Don't leave anything to the politicians. Become the change you want to see in the world, and spread it around.
    (Sorry, Christopher - I think all this white stuff is getting to me.)

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  24. Eco: It would be hard to argue with you on that point.

    Missed: He did indeed which was kind of refreshing because they've been the subject of quite a bit of abuse in the political arena for a while now.

    Jennifer: Yes, yes, yes!

    Alpha: That is definitely true. There aren't many politicians that came walk as well was they talk. It'll be interesting to see how much of this he can accomplish.

    Kev: Thanks man!

    Jayne: I think you said it all right there, that was better than my blog, I don't even have anything to add.

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