Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal nailed the general feeling of “huh?” I had about the State of the Union speech tonight: a speech about everything is generally a speech about nothing. It was like a huge, fluffy pastry that, once bitten into, was found to be hollow on the inside. I’m still hungry. No, I’m not kidding. I’d just eaten dinner and literally went back into the kitchen for something more. What do you call that, psychosomatic hunger?
Our last two presidents have been terrible public speakers. They both insert pauses into the strangest places and for that reason I’ve found both Bush and Obama hard to listen to. On top of the interesting speaking style, I find that Obama’s eyes don’t seem to believe in what he’s saying. I noticed this at times with Bush too, but there’s a disconnect between the content of Obama’s address and his eyes, expressions, and gestures. If he were a preacher I’d think that he didn’t believe the gospel he was preaching.
Tonight’s State of the Union address wandered all over the map and seemed to be trying to please everyone in a desperate bid to stay in office. At times its ideas sounded very conservative, but then the means to achieve those ideas were very liberal. It was also very parental, with Obama scolding Congress as if he were a dad who needed to make a public show out of keeping his quarreling little kids in line. I appreciate the mention of needing to work together, but if I were a representative or senator sitting there, I would have felt disrespected because of the manner in which this was communicated.
There was a definite feel of narcissism to it as well. I know this may offend some people, but reality was that a lot of “I” and “me” statements popped up throughout the speech. I got the feeling that Obama feels the executive branch of the federal government reigns supreme over the two others. He made it very clear that he wants more power to get things done the way he sees fit and that’s very dangerous. Our government is supposed to be a system of checks and balances. The legislative and judicial branches need to do their jobs as well and don’t need to be ceding power to POTUS.
A lot of the concepts presented tonight would just mean more spending. People of all political parties realize that our country’s debt is out of control and more spending will just make things worse. The government simply can not be the answer for everything. I believe very strongly that a lot of tasks the federal government handles would be better managed at state or local levels. Power, and money, should return as closely to the people as possible. The idea of growing the federal government in any way galls me– it defies logic given what we the people are going through individually and collectively.
At the risk of sounding like Spock, I found the State of the Union address highly illogical, even incoherent at times. It was so disjointed in spots it verged on sounding like Charlie Brown’s parents: wa wah wah wah waah… It also evoked one of my favorite Harry Truman quotes, if you can’t convince them, confuse them. Staring into the TV, I felt like I was supposed to be falling for a weak Jedi mind trick that wasn’t going to work. Yet there was applause. If I were there, I could only applaud if that point of the speech were logical and sounded sincere.
I really thought that, given the stakes of the upcoming election, this speech would have been more substantive and better organized. Instead, it was a feel good exercise in which if we all work together, polarize the evil ultra rich, and think of the middle and lower class as one, we can work together to get things done with a crusty loaf of bread and a glass float from an antique fishing net. Something like that, and for the love of things that are stitched together and wrought from the iron of hard labor and intricate Burmese polyester because people in Rio like us, get it to my desk fast!
I don’t think that I’ve had a deep respect for a president since Reagan. I feel that they just keep getting more smarmy and sneaky (I’m not a Newt fan for this reason). My general sense of the last two is that we’re just supposed to believe whatever they say, and I have a lot of questions about a lot of what we’ve been told. My gut feeling about where our current ship’s captain is taking us is not good. It never has been. His perspective is more global than national. I won’t write off whatever good he’s done, yet I’ve never felt that he knows what he’s doing. When I hear old school Democrats say this too, it really freaks me out.
As someone who usually zeroes in on a person’s nonverbal communication, I feel genuinely weirded out about what I saw tonight. I expected more. The Republican response, although I did not agree with everything in it, was excellent. It flowed. I understood the concepts presented. Mitch Daniels looked like he believed it when he said that we can’t afford to bury ourselves in debt anymore and that we have a narrow window of time to get out of this mess. It was refreshing after the stumbling meander through Pan’s Labyrinth.
Maybe the lukewarm applause during many parts of the speech said it all. Of course you want to encourage the parts you believe in, but even when supporters of a given topic were standing, it just didn’t sound completely enthusiastic. Perhaps many people present felt like me: huh? More importantly than that, I have to wonder if America is as much of a priority as Obama claims it is given the time and importance he gives to other countries.
Overall, I was kept off balance because the speech seemed disorganized, I heard hypocrisy, I heard contradiction, and it sounded like a man wanting more and more power to try and be all things to all people. My advice to the “Amurcan” public, as Bush used to say, is to vote for the candidate most likely to help you hold onto your power and hold onto your money. The government doesn’t have any money; it’s our money and we’re supposed to be in charge.
The best people to decide what we need? Us. Not an inconsistent, spend-happy executive branch on steroids. The very suggestion that we give it more to protect us or save us is un-American. As a direct descendant of American patriots and a long line of veterans, I reject any idea that destroys what my people have worked so hard to create. We don’t need to be rescued. We need to be set free. I am tired of struggling to support those who don’t contribute and not being able to help the poor in my own family because of it.
Five years ago I penned this thought and it’s time to share it. It explains one reason why I’m a fiscal conservative. I’ve found that my experiences in bad relationships have strengthened my belief in a smaller federal government:
To me, being (this type of) liberal is like being in an abusive relationship. They are deciding what’s best for you. You’re financially dependent on them. You are letting them have control of your life and hoping you get something back out of it. They are deciding what’s best for your money. It’s not their money. It never was. Only by beating back the government, and allowing them to have as little control as possible, are we free from this abuse.
Fans of the Chemical Brothers will understand when I say to take the lyrics for “Galvanize” and substitute the word “polarize.” That could be a theme song for this administration.
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