The Freak Show: And The Winner Is… Hal B. Selzer February 4, 2012 Columns Last week President Obama gave his annual State of the Union address. The State of theUnionused to be the time a President reported on how things stood in the country, and made proposals for Congress to consider. The Constitution lays out the purpose of it, as follows: “He shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of theUnionand recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” However, in modern times it has turned into just another game of political gamesmanship. The President gives his speech. The members of his own party clap and stand whenever he says something good, while the members of the opposite party sit on their hands and frown. It doesn’t matter which party is in power, it works both ways. The only time everyone claps is when the President mentions the military. Then they all jump up and act like they are proving how much they love their country. The political gamesmanship reached a peak in the 2010 speech when a Republican actually yelled out “You lie” during the President’s address, something that’s always been considered a breach of decorum. After all, this is the President addressing Congress and the nation. This year, nothing like that happened, but as far as respect, the looks on the faces of Republican leaders Eric Cantor and John Boehner said enough. They had a look of disdain and boredom from the start. Even before the speech was delivered, Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell stated he felt “a sense of disappointment.” The President could’ve delivered a speech with almost total capitulation to the Republican agenda, and they still would’ve been confrontational. They care more about the possibility of political gain than about doing what’s right for the country. And I’m not talking just about Republicans, although they have brought that mindset to a whole new level. Democrats have done their share of the same. Even something that just about every American is in favor of can’t get done with this Republican leadership. The President brought up the shameful fact that stock trading by congressmen has made them millions, because they had inside information about activities that directly affected a company’s fortunes. Some even cashed in when they learned, before every one else, that we were going to have an economic meltdown of severe proportions. The President said, “Send me a bill that bans insider trading by members of Congress, I will sign it tomorrow.” Eric Cantor sat there like the jerk he is, since he is the one who indefinitely postponed a scheduled vote on the bill that already has way more votes, both Democrat and Republican, to pass. The President also brought up the tax breaks the government gives to the oil companies. Yes, that’s right, even though the oil companies made record profits last year, over $100 billion by the top five companies, they get tax breaks. Yet when they President mentioned that those are no longer needed, what could John Boehner do except squirm in his seat? After all, his guests at the address were oil company executives. He brought them in an effort to show that the President not approving an oil pipeline fromCanadais costing jobs. Now, I happen to be in favor of the pipeline, but come on, the profits these companies are making, and they are going to lay off workers? Get real. President Obama had as a guest Warren Buffett’s secretary, He brought her to emphasize the unfairness that a billionaire like Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. Further emphasized, although not explicitly mentioned, by the fact that Mitt Romney released his tax returns and they showed that he paid about 14% on his income; lower, I’m sure than most of us. In response, Boehner reiterated that he remained in opposition to any plan that would raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans. In fact, he criticized the President for even bringing it up, stating it was “divisive,” and would cause “envy” among Americans. And yes, he said it with a straight face, hard as it may be to believe. He is a politician, after all. The Republican response, delivered in a monotone by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, was much more thought out and reasoned than any of the statements made by the Republican Congressional leaders. He gave a much darker picture of the condition of our country, bringing up the high unemployment rate. Daniels actually said that the President did not cause the economic and fiscal crisis we face, something the republican Presidential candidates seem to want you to believe. But he continued on to say that the president did not fix the problem. He concentrated on the large deficit, and repeated the Republican mantra that in order to boost the economy and help the unemployed, we have to lower tax rates and cut spending. He also mentioned getting rid of tax loopholes; he fails to remember that Obama proposed some of those and was shot down by the Republicans in Congress, who consider that “raising taxes.” He also suggested, without saying it outright, that we need to “means test” medical care for wealthy retirees. That is something that absolutely must be done. But I have seen no Republican propose that in Congress. Daniels gave the impression if he was in Congress he’d be someone that would work with the President to find answers. Unfortunately, the Republicans in Congress aren’t paying attention to him. They have truly been the “Party of No,” as their actions have labeled them. The President gave an impassioned call for working together, even invoking the fact that the soldiers who got Bin Laden had each others backs, no mater what political party they aligned themselves with. He didn’t sound optimistic, and he has good reason. He has compromised far more than the Republicans have this past year, and doesn’t have anything to show for it. In this year’s State of the Union political game of “one-upmanship,” the victor was the President. Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.