I promised myself that this year I wouldn‚Äôt watch the State of the Union (SOTU). It‚Äôs too depressing. At last year‚Äôs SOTU, shortly after Newtown, Conn. Obama gave an emotionally powerful speech, “The parents of Newtown deserve a vote; Gabby Giffords deserves a vote,” etc.¬† Even though 91 percent of the country wanted background checks, thanks to the obstructionists in the GOP, there was no vote.
In 2009, in his first SOTU, Obama was heckled by Congressman Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) who shouted, “You lie!” In the 2010 SOTU, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito disrespected the office of the presidency by mouthing “not true.”
The morning of this SOTU I read that not only is the Dow at an all-time high, but that in 2013 Wall Street bonuses were up 10 percent and that home prices had increased in value 10.9 percent, the largest gain in seven years.
In addition, while corporate profits are setting records, the $7.25 minimum wage is worth 20 percent less than when Reagan was president and food stamps will be cut by $8.6 billion. (Reverse Robin Hood?)
But I did watch the SOTU and parts of the four GOP responses. One thing is clear. Compromise, which is how anything gets done for the good of the country, is a dirty word to certain factions of the GOP.
My first reaction to Rand Paul‚Äôs response was what is on his head? It looks like a squirrel died. Fortunately, the official GOP response was given by Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), the mother of a Down syndrome child whose personal story is inspiring. She was thoughtful and rational. (And what‚Äôs more didn‚Äôt have a squirrel on her head.)
It was refreshing to see a woman representing the GOP. In fact, when the GOP Congress holds hearings on women‚Äôs health, instead of the all-male committee, maybe in the future they could include one female. Just a thought.
But I was struck by McMorris Rodgers‚Äô comment that her party “protects our most vulnerable.” Tell that to the folks who just got their food stamps cut. And that the GOP “Turns its back on no one.” Some undocumented workers and poor might beg to differ.
Historically, a newly elected president was always given a honeymoon. For 100 days or more, the losing party granted the president an unofficial period of good will. After all, the voters had just spoken. For whatever reason, that ended with Clinton. But Bill had it easy compared to Barack, who came to office as a “socialist Muslim Kenyan.”
The Birthers, and Donald Trump, proved to be mean-spirited blowhards. When shown to be wrong, did they exhibit any humility? No! Instead they led the charge to obstruct jobs, infrastructure, immigration, gun background checks and almost every other Obama reform. In 2012, Obama won by far more than in 2004 when Bush boasted, “I‚Äôve got political capital and now I plan to spend it.” Last night you‚Äôd think Obama had lost to Romney.
Literally, the day after Obama‚Äôs 2008 election, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would, “Do everything in my power to see that he is a one-term president and that none of his policies are passed.” Five years later, ironically, it‚Äôs the obstructionists who complain, “Obama gets nothing done!”
Many key Obama-backed bills have had bi-partisan majorities, but were blocked by Speaker Boehner. Under his “leadership,” this Congress has been documented as the most obstructionist and least effective in history. Oh well.
Only minutes after Obama‚Äôs SOTU, I received an e-mail from reader “Prd2lvnus,” who referred to Obama as the “Teleprompter Reader in Chief.” He touted his hero, Ronald Reagan, whom it seems he would like to be put on Mount Rushmore.
Despite the recent funeral of Nelson Mandela, “PRD” apparently forgets that Reagan opposed the boycott against apartheid South Africa; ignored the AIDS crisis; sent Marines to Beirut where 241 were killed; raised taxes 11 times and practically invented deficit spending; and had more members of his administration wind up in jail than even in Nixon‚Äôs. And yet no one chanted “Beirut” (as they are “Benghazi”) or heckled Reagan at his SOTUs.
Following Obama‚Äôs speech, fiery Congressman Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), a former Marine, physically threatened to throw a reporter “Off the f***ing balcony” and “break you in half like a boy.”
It seems the embattled congressman from Staten Island has been under a two-year investigation for fundraising violations. Within hours of his attack the Twitterverse lit up causing Grimm (a perfect name for a bully) to apologize. Sort of.
“I doubt that I am the first member of Congress to tell off a reporter, and I won‚Äôt be the last,” Grimm said, inferring it could happen again. (If a reporter violently threatened a member of Congress he‚Äôd be arrested.) I suppose it‚Äôs just another day in “Dysfunction Junction.”
To see Rep. Grimm go to YouTube and type “Grimm threatens reporter.” Jack can be reached at facebook.com/jackneworth, twitter.com/jackneworth or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.