We interrupt my scheduled tour of the Californian Central Coast for an important political announcement. Last night, President Barack Obama made the annual State of the Union address. Listening, it seemed to me that his speech was not directed primarily to the American people, but to the audience sitting directly before him. This is a radical departure from past State of the Union speeches. Past Presidents have tried to speak over their congressional audience. Past presidents spoke directly to the American people, with the expectation that the voters would pull their respective Senators and Representatives into line.
Last night Mr. Obama engaged Congress with a speech that echoed his 2008 campaign speeches and their call for change. The aspect of change that he emphasized throughout his address was the need for a departure from the partisan bickering that has become omnipresent in Washington. He held out his hand once again. It remains to be seen if anyone from the other side of the aisle will clasp it.
The State of the Union Address is generally more of a grocery list than most other political speeches. They tend to say we need bread, milk, jobs, carrots, healthcare, tax cuts, etc. Obama’s emphasis on jobs was one focal point. I contend that the overarching focus of his speech is the total breakdown in bipartisanism. The problem is the politics in the system. In the past there were political seasons. Now there is politics 24/7/365.
This year is an election year. To ask the parties to lay down arms in an election year is ludicrous. But the President wasn’t speaking to the people or to the parties; he was speaking to the incumbents, the people in the room. Come November, all the House and a third of the Senate seats are up for reelection. Anyone sitting there last night that plans on sitting there next year had better deliver, something. Otherwise I say throw the bums out!