Tonight President Obama gives the State of the Union message.
Republican Senator Tom Coburn seemed to sum up the likely national response: “Well, first of all, the vast majority of America ain’t going to pay attention to this speech and the vast majority of America ain’t going to pay attention to any of the responses to it.” The ain’t-s are his way of sounding Oklahoman. Of course, he plans to quit the Senate before his term ends, so he may be even more jaded than the average Congressman.
I’ll be a part of that majority not paying attention tonight. In case you are in doubt, I like the president, think him a remarkable man and believe historians will give him decent grades on his presidency, given the multitude of crises he’s had to face on almost a daily basis, accentuated by a Republican party who has so little to offer that most of their efforts have been spent in vilifying and obstructing him. Their opposition to him is what has kept them together, but these days the seams are splitting like a cheap suit.
The “responses” Coburn refers to will be made by three different members of the Republican party, while a normal party would only have one. This is further evidence that the Republicans are morphing from a political party into a simmering family feud which is only going to get nastier.
Still, despite my liking the president and disliking the mess the Republicans have made of their party, I just can’t stand to listen to one more Obama speech, as they seem too far removed from dealing with the nitty gritty of actually producing functional change. Maybe he will surprise me. I hope he does, but if so I can wait til tomorrow to hear about it.
What interests me more today is an editorial by Katrina vanden Heuvel: The Promise of Transpartisanship. In case you don’t know, she is the editor and publisher of the Nation, which seems to me the ideological equivalent on the far left of the National Review on the far right, in both cases not usually my go to sources.
But this piece is unique in that vanden Heuvel points out a number of instances of diverse Congressmen and other unlikely cohorts in joint efforts that make sense to someone like me who is more or less in the middle.
For example, David Vitter (R-La.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) are working together opposing government bailouts of big banks, while vanden Heuvel and conservative George Will are applauding their efforts on the sidelines.
Talk about strange bedfellows. I have no idea how the proposals vanden Heuvel cites will fare over time, but at least they imply the possibility of opposites attracting when it comes to given issues. Perhaps the way out of gridlock and Republican chaos is for more joint efforts on selected issues by otherwise staunch foes. Click the article title above to read more.
Sorry Mr. President, but that gives me more hope for change than anything you or the three Republican respondents are likely to say this evening.