State of the Union: Let's Applaud the President

barack obama

I’ve watched the State of the Union Address for most of my adult life. Back in the day I was delighted when my boyfriend wanted to stay in to watch it on television. That man is my husband now. I admit to balking and guffawing when someone I didn’t vote for started spewing what I interpreted as rhetoric. All politicians do that, even the ones I voted for. And yes, even Obama, whom I admire, did it. But the man isn’t just about platitudes. What a marked difference between Obama’s articulate speech versus the circus that Republican debates have become!


The last few State of the Union Addresses I’ve watched have been in wartime. Whether we feel it on our shores or not, we are a nation at war. There’s a lot of focus on the military, naturally, and terrorism, which is still pawned as a scare tactic. I was happy to hear more about the men and women who serve. I can’t imagine not being moved and swelling with patriotic pride when harkening our soldiers in uniform. This was shiver worthy:

Those of us who've been sent here to serve can learn from the service of our troops. When you put on that uniform, it doesn't matter if you're black or white; Asian or Latino; conservative or liberal; rich or poor; gay or straight. When you're marching into battle, you look out for the person next to you, or the mission fails. When you're in the thick of the fight, you rise or fall as one unit, serving one Nation, leaving no one behind.

More from The Stir: Obama's State of The Union Address: A Handy Dandy Summary

I wasn’t surprised to hear Obama talk about “American values.” I was totally expecting that line. I do love when he (and all presidents before him) call out individual stories of regular Americans. It’s nice to see faces to match the anecdotes. And last night I especially loved the bipartisan support and warmth shown to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Did you note how her Republican colleague helped her up for all those standing ovations? There’s a metaphor in there somewhere for how our government should work together. Oh, and all those ovations are exhausting and overdone.

The “moving forward” message was necessary, even though it was mostly about campaign posturing for November’s election. That being said, I do think Obama spoke more as a president than as a candidate. He offered several specific ideas to lift Americans and focused on how to reach consensus and compromise on otherwise paralyzing philosophical differences in Washington. The State of the Union Address is a time to balance accomplishments and position the nation for work that still needs to be done. It’s not just a time for back patting and ego boosting. My favorite part of the address was Obama’s impassioned commitment to education, a personal hot button for me. He focused on the right mix of supporting both teachers and students. “Higher education can’t be a luxury; it is an economic imperative.” I love that, especially since I will literally be paying off my graduate school loan until my own sons are in college. To give you perspective, they are currently eight and six years old.

It was paradoxical that Obama mentioned that election year politicking will keep Congress from acting. I imagine it will keep him from acting on everything too, but I appreciate that he called out Congress to create bills for various issues he stands behind -- immigration reform, equal pay for women, tax reform. He spoke of energy, the environment, education, and the economy. Tonight’s address was apparently brought to us by the letter E. My favorite of the night was “Stop subsidizing millionaires.” I loved that line. I applaud President Obama. I stand behind him and appreciate his Lincolnesque outlook that “government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves and no more.”

And I must say, as a North Carolina voter, I was pumped to hear his shout out to Raleigh!


Image via Pete Souza

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