My bingo card might have been a little too easy. I got bingo a little less than halfway through the speech.
A lot of people point out that watching the State of the Union is a waste of time because substantive policies rarely emerge from the rhetoric of this particular political theatre. They’re right of course but…
Plus there were brief moments that made it worth watching live. Getting trolled by The White House with #YesWeTan for instance.
Spoiler alert: much to my disappointment Obama did not wear a tan suit.
Other disappointments: Biden maintained a pretty high sense of decorum (more so than last year), many in attendance apparently forgot to silence their phones (really? Have you never been to a movie theatre?), and not enough people appreciated the fact that the First Lady was wearing the EXACT same outfit Alicia Florrick wore in The Good Wife.
On a more serious note, Obama also didn’t really mention the state of race relations in the country. This was as close as he got:
“We may have different takes on the events of Ferguson and New York. But surely we can understand a father who fears his son can’t walk home without being harassed. Surely we can understand the wife who won’t rest until the police officer she married walks through the front door at the end of his shift. Surely we can agree it’s a good thing that for the first time in 40 years, the crime rate and the incarceration rate have come down together, and use that as a starting point for Democrats and Republicans, community leaders and law enforcement, to reform America’s criminal justice system so that it protects and serves us all.”
Many are saying that these comments were insufficient and I agree. It’s disappointing that Obama isn’t taking a harder stance on racism. I’m still holding on to hope that that’s an area he’ll make more of an impact on during his remaining time in office.
The GOP response was also really boring and really awkward. Respect for Senator Joni Ernst’s background and awesome shoes (and noting that delivering the rebuttal is rarely rewarding) but wow she sounded like the voice on the other end of a 1-800 number automated menu. She also said some things about Iowa and rain which was confusing and weird. I think we’re supposed to pull ourselves up by our bread bags but I can’t be sure.
Other high points included the fact that Obama referenced bisexual and transgender people and the need to condemn persecution against them. It marked the first time members of the bisexual and transgender community were acknowledged in a State of the Union address.
He also took a strong stand on climate change while poking fun at obnoxious climate change deniers:
“I’ve heard some folks try to dodge the evidence by saying they’re not scientists; that we don’t have enough information to act. Well, I’m not a scientist, either. But you know what — I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and NOAA, and at our major universities.”
And of course, there was this at 0.44:
A mic drop moment if there ever was one. Empty rhetoric or not last night’s State of the Union was a chance to see President Obama at his best. And he delivered.