Watching last night’s State of the Union Address was about what I expected.
President Obama began with a list of Republican proposals he pledged to veto, a list of Democrat left leaning proposals he knows will never pass, and wrapped it all up with the same speech he used to get elected in the first place (“no red states or blue states”) but which everyone now believes he reads with his fingers crossed behind his back.
We’ve heard all this before.
The most telling moment in the entire speech was off the cuff. Obama noted, “I have no more campaigns to run.” A smattering of applause could be heard in the crowd presumably coming from the Republican side of the aisle.
If Obama sincerely intended to match his actions with his hyperbole, he could have simply smiled and moved on. Instead, he came back with a biting retort.
“I know because I won both of them.”
Therein is the problem with the notion that Republicans and President Obama can work together on anything.
I have it on very good authority that Obama’s ego can sometimes be a bit of a problem. Following his initial victory in 2008, he let the world know that “[e]lections have consequences.” As a result, he saw no real need to negotiate anything. After the 2012 election, he felt this even more keenly. It made really working with him or his staff challenging to say the least.
Considering the overwhelming victory Republicans won in 2014, it could be argued that they could similarly throw their weight around or at least argue that it should counterbalance that of the president. The latter argument should be easy to make given that it’s written that way in the Constitution after all.
Instead, Obama completely dismisses the 2014 election as having any meaning whatsoever. He won twice so nothing else matters.
Last night, if anyone was even slightly tempted to believe that Obama’s call for a spirit of cooperation was sincere, his snarky off the cuff remark during the speech should have quickly dispelled that notion.
All those pretty words were as always just for show.
The last two years of the Obama administration will indeed be interesting. On the one issue where Obama appears ready to work with Republicans and where something could actually get done, trade deals, he has opposition in his own party.
Obama carefully reads and contributes to his State of the Union Address each year. If he really thought that we’d all buy into last night’s speech or if he actually believed that what he was saying was truly meaningful then we are all in sad shape indeed.