The guy can deliver an excellent speech.
And he's smart....very smart.
President Obama presented an inspirational mixed bag last night in his 2nd SOTU address. There was stuff in it for everyone to appreciate...or not.
Tax increases on the wealthiest 2%....and yet, a proposed corporate tax rate reduction. Investments of government spending in education, innovation and infrastructure. Eliminating tax loopholes for oil companies. Freezing annual government domestic spending for the next 5 years, bringing "discretionary spending to the lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower.." Cuts in defense spending. An apparent willingess to rein in what he called "frivolous lawsuits" by reforming medical malpractice policies.
All points which we can, and will, argue and debate over.....to be sure. Yet, Obama, as everyone predicted, sounded non-partisan....sounded reasonable last night. While acknowledging that I don't agree with everything Obama proposed last night, I can agree with his call for national unity.
The Chamber seating arrangement last night, in my opinion......many R's and D's sitting side by side....was a good move. The optics....it's always optics now......presented, at least what looked like, a less divided Congress....instead of the usual high school pep rally antics where first one side stands up and applauds, and then the other.
Obama's smartest move last night was giving a shout out to new House Speaker, John Boehner, as an American who started out in pursuit of the American Dream by sweeping floors in an Ohio bar. Boehner welled up with tears. Well done by Obama. Stuff like that is inspirational...it moves people.
So do riffs like this one....
We should have no illusions about the work ahead of us. Reforming our schools; changing the way we use energy; reducing our deficit - none of this is easy. All of it will take time. And it will be harder because we will argue about everything. The cost. The details. The letter of every law.
Of course, some countries don't have this problem. If the central government wants a railroad, they get a railroad - no matter how many homes are bulldozed. If they don't want a bad story in the newspaper, it doesn't get written.
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.
After delivering that last line, Obama received his longest standing ovation....and it was an exceptional line. "We will argue about everything".....and yet we all love this country passionately. Unity in the midst of what many would describe as fragmentation and division. Obama pleaded with all Americans last night to...yes...argue, debate.....AND, to not forget while we're arguing, that there's no other place any of us would rather be.
Reasonable, inspirational....and true.
President Obama, as all presidents before him, has his weaknesses as well as his strengths. His greatest strength is found in his oratorical skills...the very skills he launched his national political ambitions with in 2004. Yes, they are only words. Words of inspiration, words that challenge, words meant to unite.....words which ring loudly of 'let's reason together as one people.' But words do matter.
I am as cynical as anyone.....and as many know, I hate everything. But I can at least hope that Obama's unifying, reasonable words will make a positive difference for the nation.
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