For the first time in I can’t remember how long, I watched the President’s State of the Union Address Wednesday night. Now, I promised that I would not touch on certain subjects here, like politics or race, and I have stuck to that. And this will continue that success-rate. Please note: THIS IS NOT ABOUT POLITICS.
That being said, I had some thoughts about the Address that I wanted to share with you. First, let me say that I am not well-versed in politics. Second, for the most part I was not able to actually listen to the President’s Address; it is difficult to do so when you have a four-year old running and jumping and talking non-stop. But, it doesn’t really matter because I don’t believe that the President’s message is necessarily that important anyways.
In my opinion, the President’s duty in his Address is to be one thing and one thing only: A Motivational Speaker. We all learned in US Government that the President has limited powers; the real power of making policy is in the hands of the representatives and senators. The President does not make law, he doesn’t create policy. He certainly may veto laws and policies, but his true job is that of a diplomat, selecting the right people to pursue his objectives and use his political acumen to have his proposals and policies enacted by operation of Congress.
Which brings me to the Address itself, or, more specifically, the behavior of the congressmen and distinguished guests privileged to be present in the House for the Address. Let me be straight with you. While I may have leanings towards one political party over another, my higher political belief is in the concept of Unionism. The United States of America is the greatest country on Earth and I am a firm supporter in preserving the Union.
So it thus disheartens me to see such abject disrespect when it came to the Address. When each point was delivered, there was always a group of audience members who were determined to put a scowl on their face and make it readily apparent that they did not agree with the President’s point. What is the saying about a House divided? I don’t expect that everyone agrees with everything the President said. What I am saying is this: The people of the United States, the general public, watched the Address with hope. Hope that the President can pull the country out of this recession/depression/whatever it is.
Wait, let me re-phrase that. Hope that the President can motivate the country to pull itself out of this recession/depression/whatever it is. And what kind of message does it send to the Country when the grumpy old men sit on their high horses and refuse to acknowledge the President’s goals for what they are, goals to better the country? It may not be the “better” that the grumpies would envision, but it is still a goal for better. You don’t have to like the message, but respect the intent.
My expectation is that the majority of the people who deeply care about the policy points and carefully dissect the Address are the pundits on CNN and Fox News and the people in the legislature. John Q. Public doesn’t care if the President will do this or that… she wants to feel the comfort that the President is working on her behalf to make life better. And to watch these no-names sit and stew promotes a feeling of discouragement and dismay and it sickened me. It is for this same reason that I was so disgusted by the actions of the Dixie Chicks’ singer a few years ago who stated in an interview in a foreign country that she was embarrassed that the President was from Texas. Sure I believe in free speech, but what kind of message does it send to Americans and the rest of the world that we are openly disrespectful of our President?
To those of you who think I am picking on only the Republicans (because in all fairness they were the ones who sat with the perpetual frowns), I have a thought about the other side too, the teachers’ pets.
Seriously, was this an Address or a rousing rendition of “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean?” Was I the only Jew who had flashbacks to last Yom Kippur when it seemed like all we did was stand and sit? It is one thing to sit and stew, but it is another to stand and applaud after every sentence is spoken. A 15 minute speech turned into an hour and a half because of all of the standing and clapping. After awhile it starts to look like the clappers are overdoing it to overcompensate for the grumpies who won’t clap at all. So my word for the week is moderation. Clap as necessary, but a standing ovation is reserved only for those special situations. Not sure what those are? Take a look at Game 1 of the 1988 World Series and look at what Kirk Gibson did– a standing “O” was warranted then. Use that as your barometer.
Ok, so I can see that this is getting long-winded so I will refrain from commenting on the scowls that I saw on the military in attendance, especially the grouches sitting in the front rows. Whether or not I agree with the war, I support our troops, no matter what… I get that lately the military has been perceived as being in the business of making war, but just because the President is speaking of withdrawing troops…? Ach, I can’t go on anymore about that.
So, this is what I am going to do. I am going to view our President in one light and one light only: He gave me hope that the country will work to “better” itself. Sure I disagreed with some of his points, but mostly because I don’t see how he can make them happen. But if he thinks they will work, then who are we to disagree? He is the President we elected, let’s see what he can do.
Have a great week. Oh yeah, and I may be totally wrong and you are absolutely free to call me on it. 🙂