Most of me sympathizes with President Obama. I believe he’s a decent man who would like to do a good job. I’m convinced that Republicans (in general) are determined to undermine him, weaken him. As he is diminished, they assume they will, if only by default, be strengthened.
Last night’s State of the Union Address looked like his chance to make progress, if not with Republicans, then with Americans generally, those of us who have lost confidence in him nearly on a scale with our dismay at the behavior of Congress. Obama came into the limelight — and into office — as an effective, even dynamic speaker. So last night’s speech would be, I expected, a chance for him to… well, not exactly sparkle, but at least to shine. Really, I’d have settled for glow.
Even at that level, I was disappointed. In his opening lines there was a faint reflection, remnant of a long-forgotten star. He sounded, in those first few minutes, like a not-quite-pompous professor easing his way into a boring lecture with a handful of dreary anecdotes.
Don’t get me wrong. Illustrating a political point, easing into an agenda, with stories of real people, is appropriate, effective, and usually a damn good idea. But that intro stuff, the personal touch, has to show genuine concern and awareness. Save your professorial BS for the technical details.
So yes, I was disappointed. He’s in a… truthfully, a precise metaphor escapes me here. Not a hole, not a corner, not a rut. Whatever it is, it’s not a good place for a President to be. And while he — and those people he chose to surround him — are partially to blame for his problems, it is primarily his opponents who are to blame for his malaise, which inevitably is also our own.
That’s as much bloviating as I can stand for one day, even from myself.