The State of the Union Is We Need to Accept That We're Down to Two Branches of Government:
A few random observations on last night's big speech:
1. No less than half a dozen times did President Obama call for Democrats and Republicans to work or do something "together," as in "[L]et's see where else we can make progress together." And every time, the Rude Pundit thought, "Why bother?" There is an illusion that the President obviously doesn't believe anymore, but it is a lie that he clings to in his speeches, that somehow, somewhere down the line, Republicans will awaken to realize that the way they've been governing for the last five years in Washington is wrong and they're going to be willing to compromise and move more of his agenda items forward.
It's like a version of gay conversion therapy. No, Pastor Closeted, you're not gonna pray the gay away from someone. It's in their DNA. Sally's still gonna love the pussy. So it is with Obama and Republicans. It's as if he thinks that if he keeps saying, even half-heartedly, that people can work together, Republicans will just say, "Oh, right, we can choose to do that." They can't. Steve King and Ted Cruz ain't about to convert.
2. But, as always with Obama's speeches, no matter how much he reaches out, the GOP merely finds what he has to say tyrannical, fascistic, socialistic, mean, antagonistic, or plain wrong. The response will always be "We invite the President to work with us." So it was beyond predictable that, when Obama said, more or less, "Okay, fuck it. I'm doing what I can on my own," Republicans would go monkeyfuck insane. This madness was put most succinctly by Rep. Joe "That Mule-Fucking Yokel Who Yelled, 'You Lie' That One Time" Wilson, who offered, regarding President Obama saying he would use executive orders to accomplish some of his goals, "He calls on us to work together, then he threatens to act unilaterally? It just doesn’t fit." Which proves that Joe Wilson is dumber than a bucket of hair and can't hold two thoughts in his head. If you have to build a house by a certain time and you have a bunch of materials that allows you get started, you're not going to wait for the rest of the crew to begin.
3. The missed opportunity, as David Corn put it, is that Obama plainly refused to say that he is taking executive action only because Republicans in Congress won't do shit. Obama always blamed Congress in general, as in, "You don't have to wait for Congress to act," governors, on the minimum wage, or "As Congress decides what it's going to do," he's going to do some things on pre-K education. The one time he did call out Republicans was on the one part of the speech with some swagger, where he was describing the good of the Affordable Care Act. "[L]et's not have another 40- something votes to repeal a law that's already helping millions of Americans," he said.
But Obama seems to think that the American people connected the dots, that all of us realize that those were Republicans votes, plain and simple. When he asked Congress to extend unemployment benefits, why not say that Republicans prevented them from passing? When he asked Congress for a minimum wage hike, why not say that House Republicans unanimously voted against it? On item after item, from immigration reform to jobs, it's not the Congress as a whole who has blocked action. It's Republicans. What does he lose by calling them out? Why not tell everyone that the motherfuckers are the ones who fucked their mothers?
4. Obama was saying, in essence, that we are down to two branches of government. We've lost the legislative branch. And that's a goddamn shame, really. It's rendered itself useless for anything but passing a budget and making sure we don't default on our debt. Otherwise, it's best to ignore it so it doesn't do any more harm. No matter how hard we clap, the bipartisan fairy ain't gonna magically come back to life.
5. Even more depressingly, Obama's need to bypass Congress to get shit accomplished has led him to, in essence, deputize the private sector. Multiple times throughout the speech, the President said he was calling on or had made deals with large corporations to take some action. He wants them to lead by example and by donation to things that Congress won't fund, like Apple, Sprint, and Verizon giving money as "a down payment to start connecting more than 15,000 schools and 20 million students over the next two years [to high-speed internet], without adding a dime to the deficit." And how much advertising will be part of this?
6. Yes, it was great that President Obama talked about a number of liberal issues, like equal pay for women and closing Gitmo. But, every time, all the Rude Pundit could think was "Why not tell the American people that Republicans won't pass expanded gun background checks, even though 90% of us support it?" But, you know, see #4.
7. By the way, the end of the boring-ass GOP response was downright creepy. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers concluded with the prayer that "with the guidance of God, we may prove worthy of His blessings of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." You got that? We better please our mad god in order to earn his good graces. If Rodgers had been Muslim, the right would have exploded in a hategasm. (Oh, and she also said, "[W]e hope the President will join us in a year of real action.")
And this is who Obama refused to take on last night? If he wanted, if he put his heart into it, he could destroy them with one hand tied behind his back. Or maybe this is the longest game of rope-a-dope in history.