THE LATEST THINKING
The opinions of THE LATEST’s guest contributors are their own.
The President's State of the Union Address is one historians will refer back to later.
I watched the State of the Union last night and I’m now waking up to see Donald Trump found it slow and boring.
The speech was indeed a little professorial, but I think the president gave us – and future generations – a lot to think about.
Obama posed four big questions:
- How do we make this an opportunity economy for all, reducing income inequality?
- How can we use tech smartly to make our government – and our economy – work better?
- How can we keep the U.S. and the world safe without becoming the world’s policeman? and
- How do we clean up our political system so that it brings out our best as a people – and not our worst?
These are pretty important questions that aren’t easily addressed in a few clever sound bites.
If these four questions are answered correctly in coming years, everyone is going to be a lot happier. If these questions aren’t addressed properly, I predict people will one day say, “We should have listened to Obama, he tried to warn us.”
One of the news commentators said before the speech that the whole event seemed “low energy,” the result of Obama fatigue and because people were now more focused on the 2016 race than Obama’s tenure in the White House.
After the speech, another talking head commented said that if Mitt Romney had been elected in 2012 and gas was now around $2 a gallon, unemployment at 5% and we had reduced our dependence on foreign oil the way we have, people would be calling him genius.
For some odd reason, Obama just can’t get much credit for all he has done. Maybe that comes with his “No Drama” personality.
But some things deserve to be remembered. It’s starting to feel like people are starting to forget the total mess Obama inherited in 2008.
In addition to rescuing the economy, he saved Detroit (car sales are way up these days), 18 million new people have health insurance and he took out Osama bin Laden. He got a nuclear deal with Iran, we’re normalizing relations with Cuba, gay people can get married now. We are getting serious about climate change and building a new economy around alternative fuels.
He tried to get elected officials in Washington to get along better, to seek out reasonable compromises. In that department, he admittedly made little headway and probably even lost ground. But is that his fault? I don’t think so.
Things also obviously didn’t go well in the Middle East, but that was another mess he inherited. Obama would never have invaded Iraq, which ultimately gave rise to ISIS.
It’s easy to now say “let’s go bomb the hell out of those guys,” but when and how does that ever end? Do we really want to occupy all those hellhole nations for generations to come?
Obama is a smart, thoughtful guy. He didn’t make rash, crazy decisions during his presidency and he didn’t try and take the easy way out. He tried to identify root causes before proposing solutions. That’s not necessarily exciting to the red meat crowd, but it’s important.
I predict this will be a speech future leaders refer to, much like George Washington’s warning to avoid foreign entanglements and Dwight Eisenhower’s cautioning against the growing power of the military-industrial complex.
Maybe it wasn’t so thrilling in the moment, but it will pass the test of time.
President Obama promised he'd deliver a shorter-than-usual State of the Union address, but he didn't, because if you like...