The short version of President Obama's final State of the Union speech last night is, more or less, "Here's a bunch of true shit, shit that happened. You're being lying dicks if you deny this. And, by the way, how about not being dicks? Have you thought about trying that for a little while? Stop being such dicks."
The "dicks" in this formulation are not just the Republicans in Congress, although someone oughta stomp on those throbbing pricks. The other dicks are the American people, specifically those who believe the lies being told by peckerwoods like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and Chris Christie. Obama knows that his legacy is not just about what he accomplishes while in office, but how those accomplishments are allowed to flourish in the years to come.
Something that the Rude Pundit and others have said before is that, back in 2000, whatever faults Gore had as a candidate (including running away from Bill Clinton), whatever the real outcome was (Gore won; Bush was an illegitimate president), the election shouldn't have even been close. The choice was clear: Continue the shit that was making the nation relatively peaceful and prosperous after we were rescued from a Bush recession, or change to a goofy, fake hick who wanted to fuck everything up but sounded friendlier than the dude who just wanted good shit to continue (and maybe do a little something to stop climate change).
The nation shouldn't have even let George W. Bush have enough votes to make a fuss, let alone get him the goddamn presidency. But we were fat and happy and fickle and dumb and indulgent, biting the hand that fed us and thinking that we were in such awesome shape that no one could really fuck us up that badly, so, hey, let's give Forrest Gump Bush there a shot. And, unlike what happens in movies, if you elect a fucking idiot, that idiot will do idiotic things that hurt everyone.
So here we are again, coming to the end of another Democratic presidency that spent most of its time rescuing us from the fuckery of a Bush, and Obama wants to make sure that this time the selfish assholes who make up the American electorate don't fuck over everything he's done to try to make things sane again in the country. For an economy that's supposed to be at the end of a flush down the shitter, Obama asserted, "We’re in the middle of the longest streak of private sector job creation in history. More than 14 million new jobs, the strongest two years of job growth since the ‘90s, an unemployment rate cut in half. Our auto industry just had its best year ever. That's just part of a manufacturing surge that's created nearly 900,000 new jobs in the past six years. And we’ve done all this while cutting our deficits by almost three-quarters."
That this needs to be affirmed and that people need to be told that these are good things exemplifies what Obama was up against in this speech. He was countering a nonstop barrage of doom from Republican candidates, from Fox "news," from talk radio and Right Blogsylvania, from a news media that thinks reporting facts is a demonstration of bias and thus has to engage in bullshit balance. He could have listed that and said, "And you know that the only thing that's prevented us from growing the economy more is that you all elected a bunch of dicks to put in the Congress, you stupid fuckers."
But Obama is not a man who uses a sledgehammer. No, he is a stiletto artist, cutting you in a way that makes you not realize you've been cut. Instead, he offered, "Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction." Obama, though, was firmly and finally living in reality here. After years of reaching out to Republicans to join him in doing things, he barely acknowledged that they were participants in the government. He didn't ask them for shit other than some spending on cancer research.
And when he said, "Look, if anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have at it. You will be pretty lonely, because you’ll be debating our military, most of America’s business leaders, the majority of the American people, almost the entire scientific community, and 200 nations around the world who agree it’s a problem and intend to solve it," he may as well have just punctuated it by adding, "So you can go fuck yourselves" and then turned around to punch Paul Ryan right in his stupid, smirking face.
The last third of the speech was where Obama decided to try to say something to bring together the nation, and that deep, well-considered, personal, and meaningful thing was "For fuck's sake, stop being dicks to each other." See, he knows that American dickery is what might get us a President Trump and that's the death of his legacy. "[D]emocracy does require basic bonds of trust between its citizens," he said, knowingly naive. "It doesn’t work if we think the people who disagree with us are all motivated by malice. It doesn’t work if we think that our political opponents are unpatriotic or trying to weaken America."
The problem, of course, is that his opponents are motivated by actual malice, as they have been from the beginning of Obama's presidency, as they are every time a new Benghazi committee is formed, as they are in their absolute refusal to believe the very facts Obama listed. Each and every chance they have to choose honest negotiation over donor- or base-pleasing malice, they go with the very things that do weaken America, that are unpatriotic. Calling for honor from dishonorable people always fails. You can't tell motherfuckers to stop fucking their mothers. It's right there in the name.
Turning to us, the lowly voter, Obama said, "Changes in our political process -- in not just who gets elected, but how they get elected -- that will only happen when the American people demand it. It depends on you. That’s what’s meant by a government of, by, and for the people." We did demand change back in 2008. And when it came time for change, Obama didn't tell us how to achieve it, preferring to attempt to do it on his own, to do it by thinking the very people who had wrecked the country would be willing and able partners in rebuilding it.
The sad truth about the Obama presidency is that, while so very much has been accomplished, the President's own optimism and belief in the goodness of people prevented him from pushing those who would get in the way off the road. He ended the speech by saying, "I believe in change because I believe in you, the American people."
Sure, but we're kind of egotistical, selfish dicks. And the thing about selfish dicks is that if you don't show them another way to be, one that will benefit them more, they will go right back to being selfish dicks.
(Note: Yeah, all that shit about how many people he's drone murdered or assassinated was fucked-up. But at least he said he wouldn't carpet bomb or get into another Vietnam, so thanks for that.)