Last night’s State of the Union was fine. It was certainly an interesting experiment to have the members of Congress intermingled and I doubt anyone was bothered the applause was greatly muted as a result.
For everything President Obama said that I liked, I felt there was something else he said or something he didn’t say that canceled it out. If his goal is to appear more centrist, then I suppose the speech was a success. His quip about not thinking about the next election—we just had one—was perhaps a bit too obvious.
I liked how he put pressure on parents and defended teachers. I didn’t like how he didn’t say anything about supporting education infrastructure so the teachers have something to work with nor how he didn’t say anything about making schools safe and conducive to learning. (It’s hard to win either the football game or the science fair if you experience every day feeling like your life has no value.)
I liked how he talked about bringing troops home, but I didn’t like how he talked (with almost a sense of pride) about the importance of continuing to fight. Similarly, I appreciated his call to reduce—nay, freeze—excessive spending, but don’t understand why it didn’t involve ending the two wars that destroyed the surplus Clinton left us 10 years ago. If the US is so grand and important, shouldn’t domestic spending take precedent over unnecessary combat?
I like how he emphasized renewable energy, but don’t understand why clean coal deserved mentioning. The State of the Union should be an important enough speech to not include oxymorons.
And while I appreciated his follow-through on certifying repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell this year (another year of discrimination isn’t hurting anyone), I was appalled by his rebuke of college campuses. Let recruiters on? I’m sorry, but while things might be clearing up for gays, lesbians, and bisexuals in the military, trans folks are still quite unwelcome. If a campus didn’t welcome recruiters because the military discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation, why should a campus welcome recruiters if the military still discriminates on the basis of gender identity? It sounded pompous and desperate, and as someone working to be a better ally for the transgender community, I was really bothered by it.
Of course, there was nothing new for LGBT folks, just a rehash of last year’s talking point. I would have loved to hear the President say that gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity should no longer be valid criteria for employment decisions, but apparently we’re not there yet. A lot of people seemed to want a mention for marriage, but his opinion on that must still be “evolving.” Hopefully with all the pressure growing about his 1996 support for marriage equality, he’ll evolve a little quicker. Maybe it’s something we can hold out for in the 2012 State of the Union.
But it didn’t take long for Republicans and Tea Partiers to jump right back to blaming Obama for things that started happening in the economy before he even took office. It’s just another day in the United States of America. The state of our union is… meh, okay, I guess.