The first thing I noticed about the State of the Union Address was that VP Biden and Speaker Pelosi coordinated their outfits—he resplendent a purple and lavender striped tie, she in a shapely lavender suit. Presumably their choice of color, a blend of blue and red, was a sartorial homage to bipartisanship. The President wore the hackneyed albeit obligatory power-red tie, a defiant display of his famous postpartisanship, I suppose. The next thing I noticed was that the Speaker must be getting a bit forgetful: she sported the same false eyelashes that had her blinking the Morse code behind President Bush at last year’s State of the Union Address. There she was, once again sending cryptic ocular messages via her flashing corneas.
It was only after that that I noticed what the President was saying…bailout…root canal…recovery…jobs bill. Yawn. Thirty billion for small business loans…small business tax credit for raises and new hires…eliminate capital gains for small business. Those ideas perked me up. But those earning over $250 K will not have tax cuts. When, later in the address the president said this, my perkiness deflated: increasing taxes on small business owners grossing over a quarter of a million will offset and more whatever incentives he offered them at the outset of his speech.
Back to the soporific: building “the infrastructure of tomorrow” and “clean energy projects”… “awful last decade of speculation”…American innovation. Nuclear power and off-shore drilling. Huh? That sounds good. But apparently those good ideas will be held hostage to the Senate’s passing cap-and-trade legislation. Fund education; reform health care; control the deficit, which was caused by the profligacy of “the last eight years.” Bad, bad “last eight years.” But, the president lectured, we must be “bi-partisan” because “what frustrates Americans is that every day is election day”: one wonders if the President includes himself in that admonishment to both parties.
It was not until one hour into his address that the President mentioned “protecting America” (as opposed to “defending America,” interesting choice of terms). To his credit, he used the words “terrorist” and “Al Qaeda,” although he spoiled the effect somewhat by adding that “we captured or killed more terrorists this past year than all of 2008.” Does the President not understand that snide cracks such as this give the lie to his claims of wanting to dampen the flames of rancorous partisanship? Does he understand that when he completed the approximately three minutes he devoted to the “protection” of America and shifted to other foreign policy issues such as continuing to fight the spread of AIDS, he missed a wonderful opportunity to tip his hat to the “last eight years” by acknowledging the tremendous funding the Republican administration directed toward the scourge of AIDS in Africa?
The President’s first State of the Union Address was marginally better than I thought it would be. President Obama kept his condescending tone to a minimum, though it did break through now and again. And he did say some things that, upon first hearing, I did not disagree with. But in the end, I still had an answer to the “one simple question” he posed at the beginning of the speech. “How long,” the President asked, “should America put its future on hold?” It is a simple question, so simple even I can answer it: until January, 2013.