This post originally appeared on the Qorvis blog.
The State of the Union
It would be fun if a president stood before the Joint Session of Congress and announced, “The State of the Union is terrible!” That, of course, isn’t what happens. Presidents declare to Congress and the nation that “the State of the Union is strong!” and then go on to assert all the things that need to be accomplished.
For the most part, the president’s address to Congress, with cabinet members, the Supreme Court, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff in attendance, is good theatre. The President’s party sits on one side of the chamber, the opposition on the other. It’s not hard to distinguish which is which. The president’s party is constantly jumping up and down to applaud and express approval; the opposition party members generally look sullen and sit on their hands.
It was clearly that way again with President Obama’s State of the Union as he begins his second term. While his speech didn’t have the stirring rhetoric with memorial quotes so familiar in an Obama address, syndicated broadcaster and columnist Bill Press, who is a close observer of the political scene, said in this State of the Union, Obama was part teacher, part preacher, part revival meeting leader. He saw last night’s address as better than his disappointing Second Inaugural Address.
In talking to the staff of Qorvis Communications the morning after Obama’s address, Press said that he saw a new Obama, who made it clear that he has an election mandate and is going to use it. During his first term, Press explained, the President seemed timid and afraid of using his power. “He spent too much time trying for compromises” that proved to be elusive.
Obama did make it clear, however, that he understands he has the presidential power to accomplish many of the legislative changes he has been seeking that Congress has been thwarting. On the question of climate change, Obama warned: “But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”
Even though Obama declared the State of the Union “strong,” he expressed a determination to cure what he finds wrong with it. This is his time to make a stand since he will not be running for political office again and he can attempt to create the legacy he desires.