In his next-to-last State of the Union, an energized and defiant President Barack Obama flexed, threatened, and threw shade in a speech that did not sound like it was coming from a President in the lame duck term of his tenure.
The President targeted key issues that all Americans know of or have experience with daily. Free community college. A long-sought-after solid on childcare. Individual tax cuts. Guaranteed health care. Higher wages and his desire to see full-time working Americans have access to seven days of paid sick leave. This was, indeed, “the we-can-relate-to what-he is saying” speech. The heavy shade cast over Republicans who has opposed some of the President’s key points was hard to miss.
As a matter of a fact the darkest shade came via of the most quoted and talked about excerpt from the speech. Reminding everyone that politics is not driving his agenda the president said:
“I have no more campaigns to run.” That statement was followed by some hesitant clapping peppered by a pause and that cheesy grin the president has trademarked when he is about to drop some stunning wit. He did not disappoint-he followed the clapping grinning and pause with “I know because I won both of them.”
Translated – “I have nothing to lose by not being passive and opened to phantom negotiations. The Republicans may control Congress but they don’t control me”.
Yeah – he went there – much to the chagrin of many GOP attendees I’m sure as well as to the delight of many Democratic cheerleaders.
The President expressed a desire to see Americans thrive at a middle-class status. He mentioned it about seven times. He scored new points on the political board as he shared a vision for new American prosperity in the post-war, post-recession era. “[It’s] the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, everyone plays by the same set of rules,” said the president. He stopped well short of sharing a vision on resolving broad scale biasness and prejudices that still plague minorities in many of the areas he heralded as revival indicators for the “rebuilt America”.
He steered clear of veering into the issue of poverty. He spoke of it once in a global context while omitting to acknowledge the entire job and economic growth he heralded has done little to eradicate poverty in his own (country’s) backyard.
The President made it quite clear that if the Republican-controlled Congress wants to play the impediment games of the past, they would be met with his veto pen. Obama mentioned six times his willingness to veto various measures under congressional consideration.
Overall, the speech echoed, “I’ve gotten things done and I want to and will do as much as I can in the time I have left in office”.
Currently with two vetoes under his belt, we can expect more as Boehner and Company gears up for some elevated gamesmanship.