It was by all standards of oral communication, a magnificent performance. Passionate, clear, and responsive to the context of the moment, the President was truly in “the zone.” As he ticked off item after item, on his “Middle Class” political agenda, the collective “Amen” from the Democratic base grew from a whisper to an outright shout. Community College for all? That’s right! Affordable Child Care? You better work! Paid sick leave? Don’t hurt’em Hammer!
By the end of his 6500 word speech, I had only one thought: “Where the HELL have YOU been for the last six years?!”
The man giving this magnificent performance, challenging his former colleagues in Congress to rise to the better nature of the human soul, who confidently silenced a heckler–this was THE MAN that Democrats voted into office in 2008. The defender of the middle class, the archangel of fair play, THIS Barack Obama was the one that so many believed was going to change the politics of the collective pool of nonsense known as the nation’s capital.
Why now are you swinging for the fences? Why now are you willing to stand up to Wall Street? Why now are you finally bringing this populist agenda to the fore I asked over and over?
Where was this President when the Republicans were crucifying Elizabeth Warren’s bid to become the consumer watchdog the nation needed? Instead of defending the woman who had helped lead you through one of the worst recessions in US history, you cast her aside like yesterday’s news when the going got rough. Ok. You are right. It all worked out in the end , but Elizabeth as a Senator is wayy more problematic for you than Elizabeth your watchdog. She is going to bite you a lot to keep you in line.
Where was this President at the heart of Edward Snowden scandal, when we were caught with our hands in the cookie jar? Instead of getting on a plane and personally apologizing to our allies, you sent HRC to mend your fences appearing as if you owed no apology or pretense of an important relationship.
Where was this President when Eric Garner couldn’t breathe and Ferguson was on fire? When voting rights were on the chopping block in state after state? Where was this President when home ownership amongst African Americans dropped to its lowest rate in over two decades and unemployment hovered at 11.4% in our community?
Where were these bold, ground breaking, game changing ideas when you had a Congress safely controlled by Democrats and Moderate Republicans? Affordable Childcare would have had bi-partisan support. Tax reform stood a real chance for historic change. Yes, healthcare is important, and 10 million Americans receiving health care is no small feat. But don’t you think that if you had started with an agenda that impacted EVERY American’s politics (even the most virulent racists), you would have stacked the deck in such a way that Boehner and the boys would have had no choice but support most of these populist ideals?
Don’t get me wrong Mr. President, I truly appreciated a State of the Union agenda that finally had some passion, truth, engagement, and dare I say–HUMANITY. Gone was the cool above it all professor and in his place was a community activist that remembered why he had gotten into politics in the first place. Yours was a speech by a kid raised in a bi-racial household, with a single mom who bounced around, but had parents who helped her find her way. This was the speech of a black man who knew what it was like to be followed in a store or underestimated from the time he walked in the door. It was a speech by a man who had struggled to pay off student loans, deal with crazy family members, and had to figure out who was going to care for his aging grandparents.
Just one question: why in the hell did you wait till the last year of your presidency (let’s face it, nobody will care what you have to say next year because we will be getting ready for the Iowa primary) to become….you?
Want to know what I thought? I thought you were overwhelmed by the condition of the country in 2008. I thought maybe you were just a late bloomer and NOW you had found your stride. Hell man, I gave you the benefit of the doubt because the alternative would have hurt too much.
Rather than let me rest in my peaceful naivety, in my fantasy land of best intentions, you sucker punch me at the end by giving me the answer to all my questions. At least you were honest and looked straight in the camera and explained your road to Damascus conversion. It was so cool. So honest. So sad. You just told the truth and shamed the devil: “I have no more campaigns to run..”