Last night, the President addressed Congress in his annual State of the Union speech. A great American tradition, this Congressional address allows the sitting President to present his agenda to Congress without outside influence. The pomp and circumstance of the event is significant in its history and that most of Washington’s influential politicalaratti are present.
This year, President Obama, apparently feeling empowered by his comfortable re-election, laid out his own agenda in strong and aggressive terms. He was forthright in his expectation that a rising tide lifts all boats and that austerity measures hurt those who can least afford it.
Much of the President’s speech repeated campaign themes. The challenge with it was that it offered little to no olive branch to the Republican-controlled house. Some may say he doesn’t have to do that since they were put in their place in the election. I disagree. If anything at all is hoped to be accomplished – all the ideas the President presented – there must be bi-partisan support. It was clear that the Republicans did not like much of what they heard.
As to that, Marco Rubio’s response was rather mild. He didn’t aggressively attack the President but simply contrasted their philosophical responses. He was gracious and classy, even if he did need a drink of water.
The emotional ending of the speech about gun regulation was probably the most interesting of the night. The President seems to be personally emotional about this issue. The Newtown shooting were one of the first times this President let his emotions show publicly and that came through again during this section of his speech.
As well, his comments on voting reform and pointing out the 102 year old lady who waited 6 hours to vote. While it was a contrived dramatic moment in his speech, I was most disappointed that the Speaker, John Boehner, didn’t stand out of simple respect. I guess no one ever taught him to respect his elders. The look of disgust on his face summed up the Republican point of view on the President’s presentation.
So, there you have it – expect more discord and disUnion from your elected leaders in Washington!