Thursday, February 14, 2013

The State of the Union is Still Strong

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

My Dear America:

It is one day after the State of The Union Address by President Obama before Congress, The Supreme Court, the Cabinet, the Guests of the Politicians and the Televised American Public.

Once again, just like every time he has done it and other Presidents have done it, President Obama made the Grand Entrance to the Senate smiling, shaking any hand that moved, exchanging short conversations and looking every bit the part of The President of the United States.  

Anyone watching this speech by the President with its frequent standing ovations (even occasionally by the Republicans) would have to think that this apparent Lovefest is indicative of a form or Government with no problems whatsoever within itself or with regard to any other part of the world.  

Certainly that assessment is far from the truth of how things are in the United States Government but it is nice to know that on State of the Union Night every year our politicians can dress up in their Sunday Best and act like sensible, responsible, caring and bright individuals.  

To me, being old enough to remember the old days, it seems odd that in the past few decades the Congress has had the audacity not to give standing ovations many times over to the opposite party leader, namely the President.  I don't know when this started.  I think it was sometime in the 80's or more likely in the 90's when the Newt Gingrich Gang of Phoneys were hounding President Clinton like he was an escaped prisoner from and Arkansas chain gang.

Those were ugly times.  Maybe not as ugly as these days but even in those ugly days Newt and his extreme crew of Conservatives in name only took breaks from their madness on State of the Union Night when Bill Clinton came to the Senate podium.  The same Republican's who hounded Bill Clinton daily to the point of impeachment, were also waiting on State of The Union Night to hopefully be seen with and have their picture taken with the President.  It was a thoroughly bizarre state of affairs, when you think of it 

This year's State of the Union message echoed the many before it in pronouncing that "The State of the Union is Strong."  I have never heard in my long lifetime any President who announced on State of the Union Night that "The State of the Union is not strong" and I doubt that I or anyone else will ever hear those words spoken at the State of the Union Address.

President Obama was in prime campaign oratory mode as he stood at the podium on Tuesday night.  Behind him were Joe Biden looking a bit older and worn out than he has looked for awhile  (Lets hope he is in good health) and John Boner looking smug and unready to stand and cheer for the President's success.

The President had a good deal to say to the gathering of legislators and others listening to him.  He proposed legislation that he said would not increase the debt but would improve things in a number of areas, among them creating more jobs and training programs to prepare workers for those jobs.  The President also talked about immigration and especially praised those Republicans in Congress who seem to be actually trying to work with Democrats to do something about providing answers to problems involving both illegal and legal immigration.  The President also proposed an increase in the minimum wage to 9 dollars an hour.  Another proposal dealt with providing Pre School programs for every young American who might take advantage of it.  

Lastly, the President pointed out the guests in the balcony and on the floor who were victims of gun violence including the parents of the young student from Chicago killed a week after performing at the President's inauguration, former Representative Gabby Giffords and Newtown parents.  

One more issue that the President pointed out as he introduced  guests was a 101 year old woman from Florida who, despite having to wait almost all day to vote, was encouraged and cheered by those who waited with her when she put on her "I Voted" sticker.  The President reminded Americans just how lucky we are to be able to vote in our country and asked Congress to do what they could to protect the right to vote in every one of the United States of America. 

The President got well deserved applause as he finished his speech with "God Bless The United States."  He was treated like a Rock Star after the speech with many Congressmen and Women asking him to sign their copies of the speech.

The President had carried on the tradition in a manner he and we could be proud of.  He had once again shown Americans and individuals in other countries that truly the State of the United States of America continued to be strong.  

Certainly we have tremendous problems in our country but compared to many other countries in the world whose citizens have no rights to free speech or voting or other human rights we are once again reminded that America is the worst form of government in the world, except for all the rest.

American Presidents, despite what is going on in their Presidencies, in their parties, in their country, have always shown up on State of the Union Night in fine spirits, glad handing their constituents and their enemies alike and showing the world what you, America, are all about.

One sour note, or actually two sour notes about last nights State of the Union Address is that it was followed by two (Although I only saw one) Republican Responses.  One by Marco Rubio and one by Rand Paul.  

To be honest, Marco Rubio's speech was fairly well delivered but totally inappropriate to the topics that the President discussed.  

Although I don't really like to advocate for a lack of free speech I genuinely feel that the time has come to take a good long look at whether or not it is appropriate to have a Republican or Democratic response to the President's State of the Union Address.  

It's the State of The Union Address not just some campaign speech.  

How about, at least on this one night, advocating for that "Union" concept and putting away the daggers and disrespect for the President by the party that is not in the White House.

Somewhere, on another network that I wasn't watching, Senator Rand Paul also had a response that I am sure was less than positive toward the President's speech and agenda.

I was happy that CBS and MSNBC didn't carry Paul's speech.  If Rubio's speech was unnecessary and divisive, certainly Rand Paul's speech had to be truly unnecessary and on my part, unwelcome.

I salute those Presidents of the Television age who have given us so many Great State of the Union Addresses including Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon (Yes, even Tricky Dick looked good at the State of the Union Speeches), Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and, of course, Barack Obama.

We are lucky to have had these Presidents and all those who came before them (with the possible exception of Richard Nixon and George W Bush) showing up yearly and reassuring us time after time that "the State of the Union is strong."

Lets keep it strong and keep up the great Presidential speeches while giving thought to putting away the partisan rhetoric afterwards by the opposition party, whoever they might be, Republican or Democrat.

Also it might be a good idea for our leaders to recognize that maybe a little more "Union" might be a good thing to strive for all across the board.  Maybe with a little bit more "Union" we could actually accomplish what we need to accomplish in an increasingly dangerous and complex world.

Sincerely Yours

Jerry Gallagher 

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