Obama’s SOTU Address: Jeers and Cheers

Maybe it’s time the party out of power started rethinking how they approach the annual State of the Union address.

As it is, they applaud at all the mom and apple pie stuff, and look like they’re about to pass kidney stones at anything that remotely approaches a specific policy statement.

Meanwhile, the President’s party feels compelled to cheer wildly at, well, just about everything. So they look like idiots too.

Let’s stop treating this thing like a football game.

OK, so we got through the latest edition without anybody shouting “You lie!,” which really shouldn’t have to be taken as a sign of progress. There were muffled boos and jeers, which is obnoxious enough.

Barack Obama is a marvelous orator. Moments of the address — long as it was — could send a patriotic chill up your spine. OK, so the Republicans disagree with him on policy — and of course, more than a few of them think he’s a Kenyan mole bent on America’s destruction.

But seriously — and I’d extend this same courtesy to anyone, from either party — shouldn’t Congress be able to sit politely through the parts of a speech with which they don’t agree? Or barring that, can we stop panning the crowd, looking for Republican senators wearing pained expressions that are the equivalent of a big foam finger screaming “You suck!”

In regard to style points, I thought Obama was especially strong in addressing healthcare — stating his argument in clear but authoritative terms, and doing so in a way that made it all sound eminently reasonable. He was also powerful in his discussion about changing the bitter tone of politics, transforming the governing process into a perpetual campaign. “Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it’s not leadership,” he said to Republicans.

Whatever you think of Obama, this speech was indeed an example of leadership — and a demonstration of the soaring, high-minded rhetoric that captured the imagination of so many during the campaign.

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