The United States economy is Built To Last. That was the theme of the President’s State of the Union address that set the stage for a year of battles that will be framed with a do-nothing Congress and a growing public discontent at the divisions of wealth and benefits in this country.
The President was tough when he needed to be, with a big announcement of the creation of a prosecution and investigation team headed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to go after financial and mortgage fraud. And just in case the magnitude of the appointment gets lost in the coverage, let me assure you that the cut-away shot had Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner looking very uncomfortable.
But he also put forward a mixed message on domestic energy development and education reform, showing that while he can be a populist on certain economic issues, he is primarily a pragmatist, particularly on environmental ones.
The President made special mention of Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) who retires from Congress to focus on her continued recovery from an attempted assassination attempt. Giffords has come to symbolize a bi-partisan co-operation that seems largely impossible now in Washington. But the President made sure to invoke the possibility as he set the tone of a need to work toward a better future for all Americans.
Proving they can’t coordinate much of anything, multiple Republicans offered multiple responses to the President’s vision. Mitt Romney’s timing was all off. He offered a pre-buttal, accusing the President of continuing to divide the country by refusing to just sit back and take the filibuster without complaint like President Obama had done in the first portion of his presidency. The Tea Party response by Herman Cain got snubbed by the mainstream media with Fox News, MSNBC and CNN deciding not to air the 7-minute address, forcing it online instead.
The “official” Republican response to the President’s State of the Union painted a picture of the United States that would make the robber barons proud. America, said Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, is a nation of haves and soon to haves that needs to be free from the oppressive hand of the nanny state. Oh, and he promised a comprehensive Republican plan to address the deficit. Let’s all remember that, okay. The President’s budget is due out on February 13th, so the GOP has a little less than a month to pull something together.
And this State of the Union was not entirely without fabricated drama. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo), most famous for calling the President a “tar baby” decided to sit out the State of the Union as a protest to the appointments of heads to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the National Labor Relations, as well as the President’s actions on the Keystone pipeline. As always, the Republicans in the House of Representatives keep it classy.
The speech set clear lines of policy difference between the President’s agenda and Republicans. Let’s see how the GOP hopefuls respond on the campaign trail.
Photo from kalexnova via flickr