Always Something Going On

So we come to the first State of the Union address of Obama’s second term. The word is he will focus on the economy and jobs, and that is largely as it should be. We can hope he builds on the inaugural address and again mentions climate chaos (hey, he is giving his speech on Charles Darwin’s birthday; we can hope he gives a shout out to science and reality). Mostly we hope he just remains as bold and forward looking as he was at the inaugural. That caught some of us a bit off guard, and it will be harder to surprise us this time. These speeches are mostly boilerplate anyway. For the most part, Democrats will praise it, progressives will more tepidly praise it while pointing out what he didn’t say. Republicans will offer tepid statements like perhaps there are some things we can work together on but his vision is all wrong, and the tea partiers, led by Rand Paul’s alternative (to Marco Rubio’s) response, will declare Obama a traitor, a tax and spend liberal, as basically not a true American.
I say all these things to save any who have other plans from needing to watch the speech. And as far as that goes, it could well be that you have other plans. I’m sure it is impossible to find a Tuesday when nothing else is going on, though today I can easily make a better case for last Tuesday or next Tuesday. Tonight is, of course, the closing night of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, the biggest night of the year for dog lovers. And who wouldn’t rather watch a bunch of cute four-legged creatures run around in circles to the adoring applause of the audience than to hear what is rotten in the state of Denmark? The big event tonight, obviously, is Mardi Gras. Does the administration really think anyone in New Orleans will be watching the address? If I was down there I sure wouldn’t be. And while New Orleans sports the largest Mardi Gras celebration in the country, it is hardly the only Fat Tuesday party that will be going all day and all night.
You can easily argue that a lot of those people wouldn’t watch the SOTU anyway, and even that most Americans who follow politics at all will hear only the sound bites that their chosen news source plays 38 times tomorrow while reporting the speech. And in the end, speeches may push actions or agendas some, and what really matters is what happens next. Words are nice, and even the best speeches never get down to the small details of how things will get done, and in this case, how anything can get done when the Republicans continue to have as their only agenda blocking any and all things the president tries to do.
I will watch, because for good or bad I’m a political junkie and can’t turn away from the train wreck. Unlike Rachel Maddow and her ilk, however, I won’t pretend it is the most momentous and important thing to have happened in the world since the 1918 armistice. It will at best give us some idea of Obama’s political philosophy and what he would do in a second term if he governed a congress that could actually talk between the parties, if he governed in a country where majorities ruled, if he governed in a democracy where the elected representatives across the board made even some small attempt to represent the will of the people.


About JP

We're two guys who met in college, in 1980. We've stayed in touch, and like to talk politics, current events, music and religion. JP is nore liberal than Sid, but not in every way. We figure that dialogue stimulates ideas, moderates perspective, and is in general friendly. These are things we need badly in these dangerous times. The blog name is taken from a song by Bruce Cockburn.
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