In his eighth and final State of the Union address Jan. 12, President Barack Obama kept it short and punchy. It was a strong speech in the vein of the well reasoned and eloquently delivered oratories that helped him twice win election to the White House.
But let’s not kid ourselves. His was a speech that pleased liberals, big thinkers and people whose focus is mostly on the future – not the present or the past and certainly not folks struggling to make ends meet.
His pleas for liberals and conservatives to come together and focus on solutions for these challenging times are destined to fall on deaf ears.
Our test of this theory is House Speaker Paul Ryan who sat in his chair behind the president with a I’m-smarter-than-you-are smirk on his face throughout the speech. And, we add, the president himself has been reluctant to engage his opponents in meaningful dialogue throughout his time in office.
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As for the opinion that Obama forcefully and successfully punched holes through the pseudo-populist bluster of unnamed-by-him Republican presidential candidates, well, yes he did. And, yes, the takedown was a needed reminder that America stands for much higher values than those espoused by Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina and others.
Still, nothing in the speech will move people an inch on the political spectrum, much less toward consensus on how to deal with terrorism, bringing to stability to the Middle East, the high cost of health care or rebuilding the American middle class.
The art of compromise is a lost art. Perhaps the only polite way of saying it is, we have agreed to disagree. Democrats and Republicans – whether in Congress, the Legislature or on Internet message boards – long ago stopped listening to the other side. Instead they’d rather yell their lungs out and reserve the last breaths for proclaiming their own righteousness.
Obama forcefully and successfully punched holes through the pseudo-populist bluster of unnamed-by-him Republican presidential candidates. And, yes, the takedown was a needed reminder that America stands for much higher values than those espoused by Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina and others.
As the president noted, this is an election year, so don’t expect much of significance to be accomplished in Washington, D.C.
Call us silly optimists, but our hope is that Obama will provide leadership and the two major parties will see eye-to-eye on legislation of major significance to the Valley:
▪ A water bill that would help increase water storage above and below ground in California, and provide water pumping flexibility while protecting endangered fish species.
▪ A Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement that will enable the United States, rather than China, to define the rules for trade in the Pacific Rim and expand markets for California growers and food processors.
▪ Criminal justice reform that will keep citizens safe while providing better opportunities for people who have made mistakes to redeem themselves and lawfully participate in society and the economy.
The president warned against falling prey to the cynicism paralyzing our politics and preventing the United States from realizing its full potential.
So let’s cast cynicism aside and focus on something that certainly could be – and should be – accomplished: finding a cure for cancer.
Obama called for making a cure for cancer a “new moonshot” for America and he made Vice President Joe Biden captain of the team.
Finally, a goal that every American can agree upon.