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