President Obama Reminds Americans to Work Together at State of the Union


I have joked about channeling the Greek goddess Cassandra to predict the early Republican primary trifecta correctly (Santorum in Iowa; Romney in New Hampshire; Gingrich in South Carolina). But, yesterday I surprised even myself by writing about the State of the Union Address and its impact on the world audience – and then to have just about all of it come true.

The president’s joke about spilled milk, by the way, was awful. He knew it, too. I can’t imagine why he used it, but he saved the moment with one of his blinding smiles as a patter of bipartisan laughter sounded from the Chamber. Everybody knew it was just polite response. Speaker John Boehner looked as though he’d had something particularly indigestible for dinner.

Otherwise, the entire event went as I hoped: everyone exchanged pleasantries and smiles, and the Supreme Court even showed up in solidarity, which I didn’t expect.

I caught Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) seated next to Senator John McCain (R–AZ), applauding President Obama's mention of the U.S. military at the beginning of the speech. They both serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Senator Hagan has been instrumental in bringing veterans’ issues to the fore, as well as in prodding the Pentagon to investigate contaminated water at Ft. Bragg. Besides, how can you NOT applaud working together to accomplish a mission?

It was a brilliant choice of opening metaphor and developing theme for the State of the Union: the United States, working together can accomplish anything we set out to do. Then the president proceeded to lay out his blueprint for the economy, jobs, military/diplomatic/trade strategy, energy policy, education, consumer protection, mortgage rescue and refinance, and tax policy. Some of what he proposed sounded wonderful and some – including the proposal to divest members of Congress of their stock investments – caused bipartisan heartburn.

The messages to the world were very interesting, weren’t they?

I doubt the Chinese will be terribly happy about some of what President Obama proposed about “in-sourcing” manufacturing jobs and pursuing trade agreement violations and trademark piracy against them.

The message to Middle Eastern countries was more subtle: We’re no longer going to be dependent upon either your oil or upon the big oil corporations, with whom you’ve done business for a hundred years, so watch yourselves.

The Pacific Rim countries can expect more attention from our strategically reformulated military – which is buying renewable fuel from a project on government land (I want to hear more about this one!).

Over all, the message of strength, continuity, competence, and mutual cooperation came through; illustrated by some interesting examples. One of them was from Charlotte, North Carolina: Jackie Bray, an unemployed single mother, hired by Siemens after attending Piedmont Central Community College. Siemens and PCCC partner in a model program for worker education and re-training.

President Obama ended his speech where he began it; reminding us that, like our soldiers in combat, Americans work together in times of trouble. We can do amazing things when we do.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons