Polls and the recent shocking Massachusetts election, in which a Republican won a U.S. Senate seat held by the late Ted Kennedy for more than 40 years, focused great attention and importance on President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Wednesday evening.
There was a question of how the president would grade his first year in office and what he might say about the GOP win in Massachusetts and the failure to get his health care plan passed by the end of 2009. Many wondered whether he might signal a political move, or pivot, toward the middle rather than maintaining his rigid left-of-center, liberal position.
After a 70-minute presentation, interrupted 86 times for applause, there really wasn’t much evidence of a changed Obama.
He defended his actions. He blamed former President George W. Bush for most of the country’s ills. His tone remained defiant. He lectured those in his audience and didn’t indicate there was anything wrong with the more than 8,000 earmarks in the Democratic stimulus bill, the lack of transparency, the number of former lobbyists in his administration, the secret behind-the-scenes payoffs or bribery used to obtain favorable votes or other cases in which he had not honored pledges or promises he made during his presidential campaign.
He did call for new ways to meet our country’s energy needs, the development of clean, safe nuclear power, the development of additional offshore oil and gas exploration, a continuing effort to clean up our environment and the importance of getting more Americans back to work.
The president said it was critical to have bipartisan support for this country to solve its problems, but this rang hollow for many when the name of the game during his first year in office was making deals, writing proposed legislation behind closed doors and locking out GOP members in the formation of the stimulus and health bills.
Whether Obama will regain the popularity and respect he enjoyed at the start of his presidency is uncertain, but there wasn’t much in his Wednesday night pep talk to fellow Democrats, or the tone of his message, to indicate there is the excitement and enthusiasm he enjoyed a year ago after his dramatic move into the White House.
The nation needs and deserves a stimulating, visionary president who can enthuse the public to work together for a better and greater country. He, or she, must operate in a manner that sets high standards of ethics and honesty and merits the respect of Democrats, Republicans and Independents.
Unfortunately, Obama’s State of the Union address didn’t bring out the best of our president or leave those in Congress and the millions of those who watched the televised address with the inspiration and commitment to do what they could to help make this a better country.
Obama had the opportunity to use the State of the Union to kick off his second year in office in an enthusiastic, unifying manner, but, rather, he continued his call for greater and greater government involvement in all of our lives and greater national debt.
It was not a good or encouraging introduction to Chapter 2 of the Obama presidency.