"Did You Watch It?"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Saturday, January 29, 2011

I watched the President’s State of the Union address and like some in attendance had a hard time keeping my eyes open. If it weren’t for all the applause, I’m sure I would have fallen asleep: my wife did. I fought to stay alert and even stayed up to hear the opinions discussed after the speech ended.

It always amuses me that the major TV stations allow equal time or what they call rebuttals. Why? The address left little to rebut, if the commentators were watching the same one I watched.

I felt the President’s comments regarding Christina Taylor Green, whose family was invited to attend, were appropriate as he reiterated his hopes that our government will meet her expectations. He also acknowledged Congresswoman Gifford’s empty chair and all of the assembly were wearing ribbons in support of her.

I was surprised to see Senator McCain stand and vigorously applaud many times in response to portions of the speech. I was disappointed however that the new speaker of the House, John Boehner seldom applauded, especially after hearing the President announce he was eager to work with both parties and was looking forward to new ideas.

The new seating arrangement, mixing Democrats and Republicans together — not allowing them to sit in blocks together appeared to cut down and almost eliminate statements from the floor. It also made it difficult for either group to ignore when the assembly stood and applauded.

President Obama said that in the past one didn’t always need a college degree but “The world is changing, China and India are catching up to us.” He continued saying, although we are still at the top, we need better education and more degrees to remain in that position. “We need to outdo,” the rest of the world on clean and renewable energy and break our dependence on petroleum products. These comments drew a standing ovation as he concluded with a suggestion we cut our subsidies to the oil industry and instead invest in our future.

The President acknowledged we need to work hard to keep up with the new electronic age because others are. We need to have more high speed internet available to all. He thinks parents need to take more responsibility for their children’s education and work with them when they encounter problems. I loved this comment he made, “Remember the winner of the Science Fair is just as important as the winner of the Super Bowl.” He also said we should reward the good educators and stop excusing the poor ones and encourage or future high school graduates to go on to become teachers. He explained there is a great need for good teachers with many jobs opening up as baby boomers in the teaching professions retire. He would like it to be our goal that we have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

High speed rail systems were high on his list of priorities, as he pointed out they would relieve the pressure on air travel. He displayed a bit of humor saying, “It could be nearly as fast but without the pat downs.” Our need to continue rebuilding our infrastructure is also of great importance to all of us the President remarked and said our country is experiencing daily breakdowns as the aging process causes more and more failures.

The President called for cuts in the deficit by placing a freeze on domestic spending for five years. He also called for strengthening Social Security without cutting those presently receiving it or those close to joining the program. He challenged billionaires to give up their tax breaks and begin paying their fair share. He said, “Think of it as a contribution to the country.”

As I see it, the speech was boring and condescending.

The pushing and shoving, reaching out and calling for autographs as the President left the podium proved to be the most exciting part of the event. Many reached for the “executive” pen to take home as a souvenir.

I thought the follow-up interviews on NBC were ridiculous, as the first speaker was disappointed that the President did not mention gun control. It was obvious this topic did not belong in the address. Although it is a favorite theme of mine, that we need more than a two-party system I believe some people are being fooled by a shadow innocently called the Tea Party. It could just as easily be spelled REPUBLICAN and be the same just without tea being served. When you think about it, tea parties have taken place for years — the new ones are just a little noisier.


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