Posts Tagged ‘State of the Union’
The first week of 2016 brought something that I hadn’t expected: President Obama and I are in agreement. Last week, the president previewed his State of the Union Address from the Oval Office saying, “Since I took office seven years ago, in the midst of crisis, I don’t think I’ve ever been more optimistic abut the year ahead.” (odd for him to say considering in January of 2009 he had his vision of change and a Democrat Congress to achieve it, but I guess “yes, we can” was less convincing to him than his followers.) What’s more, we both agree on at least one cause of this optimism: that this is his last year as president.
My other reason for optimism, Paul Ryan’s speakership, is likely not shared by the president. Ryan’s ability to communicate the way in which conservative principles can improve Americans’ daily lives and his Midwestern, earnest and steadfast promise keeping will be refreshing for the Republican base and the House Freedom Caucus. If Speaker Ryan says he will do something, it’s going to happen.
2015 closed with a budget deal that had Rush Limbaugh shrieking the “GOP [sold] America down the river.” In a nutshell, the pundits and many in the Freedom Caucus were frustrated that Ryan didn’t threaten a government shutdown in order to defund Obamacare and Planned Parenthood—two things that won’t happen while Barack Obama is in the White House. Political punditry and showmanship are easy, governing is hard; it requires wisdom and patience, uncommon virtues in Washington. Thankfully for Republicans, Paul Ryan has both.
Upon assuming speakership, Ryan was handed a budget deal that was a fait accompli. He had two options: blow the deal up, shutdown the government, and start the 2016 Election Year in turmoil; or snatch a few important victories within the deal and start 2016 with a clean slate on which to write a clear, conservative vision for the country. Paul Ryan withstood pressure from the “politics-over-governance crew” and chose the latter.
The budget deal permanently removed the ban on oil exports, strengthening our position in dealing with the Middle East and Russia while boosting our economy at home; prevented the sequester from hitting the military so that our beleaguered forces get the resources they need in this dangerous world; and protected free speech by preventing the IRS from transforming abusive tactics into sanctioned policies. The IRS provision alone was worth the price, because we can undo spending in the future easier than re-instating First Amendment rights taken away. Not bad for an admittedly crappy bill.
Then, in the first week of the New Year, Paul Ryan did exactly what he promised, sending to Obama’s desk a bill that defunds Obamacare and Planned Parenthood. Of course, the president vetoed it, but the public discussion will be about the issues presented in the bill, rather than inside-the-beltway gridlock and bickering. Moreover, passage of the bill shows the American people that Republicans are capable of governing.
As the year continues, with Speaker Paul Ryan’s help, Americans will realize that “a more prosperous, a more secure, and a more confident America is possible.”
Yes Mr. President, I’m very optimistic.
The State of the Union has evolved into a national conversation on social media. Twitter and Facebook light up for a couple hours in ways rarely seen in politics. I did my duty by tweeting out snarky comments and posting on Facebook.
The best post-speech commentary came from National Review’s Jim Geraghty:
My Fellow Americans, the State of Our Union Is . . . Interminable
Okay, let’s get this out of the way. The only part of the president’s State of the Union address that you need to read:
“I first met Cory Remsburg, a proud Army Ranger, at Omaha Beach on the 65th anniversary of D-Day. Along with some of his fellow Rangers, he walked me through the program — a strong, impressive young man, with an easy manner, sharp as a tack. We joked around, and took pictures, and I told him to stay in touch.
A few months later, on his tenth deployment, Cory was nearly killed by a massive roadside bomb in Afghanistan. His comrades found him in a canal, face down, underwater, shrapnel in his brain.
For months, he lay in a coma. The next time I met him, in the hospital, he couldn’t speak; he could barely move. Over the years, he’s endured dozens of surgeries and procedures, and hours of grueling rehab every day.
Even now, Cory is still blind in one eye. He still struggles on his left side. But slowly, steadily, with the support of caregivers like his dad Craig, and the community around him, Cory has grown stronger. Day by day, he’s learned to speak again and stand again and walk again — and he’s working toward the day when he can serve his country again.
“My recovery has not been easy,” he says. “Nothing in life that’s worth anything is easy.”
Cory is here tonight. And like the Army he loves, like the America he serves, Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg never gives up, and he does not quit.”
Cory Remsburg is a Dagwood sandwich of courage, determination, inspiration, and all-around bad-assery.
The rest of the speech was interminable, meandering, shifting in tone, unfocused, and at least twice as long as it needed to be. In a development that surprises no one, his fans liked it, his critics largely hated it, and millions upon millions of Americans wondered what happened to their favorite shows that usually air at 9 p.m. Eastern.
The only thing worse than a boring State of the Union? Having three GOP responses. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers did a fine job, but I don’t understand why Sen. Mike Lee and Sen. Rand Paul gave responses other than feeding their own egos.
The thing that mystifies me is why the response is not done with a live audience. One of the best GOP responses in recent years was Gov. Bob McDonnell when he delivered his response from the state capital of Virginia with a live audience. It made a world of difference on how the response played to viewers across the country. But no one has replicated that model since, and the responses have been mostly yawns.
I’m just glad it’s over.