The State of the Union (“SOTU” in the Twitterverse) has for a long time been the Oscar Night of politics: the grandiose, self-indulgent infomercial for the political class (the White House Press Gallery dinner is the Golden Globes, by the way).
Like the Oscars, the SOTU has become as dull as Louis Gohmert’s mind. The people on stage don’t like being there and the people in the room are generally resentful. I think John Boehner is as deep as his tan, but one thing about him seemed real and true last night: he loathes the President. The Speaker had trouble applauding Obama, even when the President said things Republicans ought to fawn over.
Like Oscar night, the ratings are on the decline. Yet that seems only to make the damned show go on longer. Meanwhile the TV and Internet audience changes channels, monitors Twitter or talks to their kids (just like they were being told to by the politicians). Honestly, I expect many of the folks back home are tuning-out not long after the red carpet.
It has been my long-held view that the President is in a perpetual funk, or maybe even a mild depression. Who can fault him? He is, in fact, a smart, organized and creative guy who can’t order a pizza without someone getting it wrong – usually on purpose (“let’s see how he likes this pepperoni!”) It must be very boring and very frustrating indeed, to wake up every day knowing that virtually everything you do will be mis-characterized and messed up – and that’s by your friends! Across the aisle, they’re pushing his Christmas presents into the wood chipper.
The President looked as bored and grouchy as usual. As much as the Republicans hate him, you know, he probably hates them more. Obama is, at the very least, a useful prop for the Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy (that’s the secret real name of the Republican Party now, by the way), helping them raise hackles and cash. The GOP gets paid to hate the guy. But I think Obama’s disdain for them is as authentic as John Boehner’s is for him.
So desperate are the producers of the SOTU to make the thing interesting, they now resort regularly to tapping into sentimentality to connect: hence, the wrenching parade of people grievously wounded by America’s wars (the soldier last night, or Gabby Gifford, victim of America’s street-based civil war). Next year perhaps they’ll do a montage of all the legislative proposals that died on the Hill.
He should have cancelled. “I have the flu” would do the trick. Or even better, “I will tweet the damned thing to you people. Ask your intern to show you how to read it.” But such bravado seems curiously outside the scope of this President’s capacity. The guy is standing at the bottom of a shark tank and he still, still, still talks about “working with” them. Why? To be polite? To not offend? Seriously? It is ironic but sad, that this seemingly most unconventional President is in fact, a very conventional fellow. Someone should tell him he’s not running again.