Maybe I am a bit biased, but of course it was a Udall who suggested that at the President’s State of the Union, Republicans and Democrat sit together. (The bias comes from having worked for the Udall Presidential campaign as part of the candidate’s personal staff – just FYI). Mo Udall was beloved by elected officials from every party and political persuasion. (OK, enough all about me.)
You would have to be deaf, or an idiot not to think this was a brilliant speech. That it was targeted, not only to liberal Democrats but conservative Republicans, there was something for everyone. It was a pep rally. While it was a list of things he expected the American people and American business to achieve. There was no extended applause. If you looked at the room you realized that there was no political comfort zone for any one person. There was a great deal of looking around to see who was clapping and who was not. Even the Vice President and the Speaker seemed less confrontational. There was no jumping up and down when the President said something they liked or with which they didn’t agree. Maybe Joe just doesn’t like to listen to anyone else speak.
The Republican response was equally mellow. This Chairman of the House Budget Committee (a good choice), was leader, father, politician, historian, philosopher, cleric, cheese head and all around nice guy. But wait. He wasn’t that nice. He went after health care, lack of job creation, and Washington interference. Oh well, the hands across America lasted for five minutes – it could have been shorter. It could have started before the speech began. Never mind, he and the President both want to go down a new path. A kind of the Robert Frost approach to change. Path is a good word. So much better than highway, or freeway. It’s more intimate and green. It doesn’t matter that we don’t know where anyone’s path is leading.
Pundits will say it was two different, very different approaches to the way Government should work. But they get paid to say things like that. And if they don’t they will have nothing to say. It all sounded pretty much the same to me. Among other issues, a five year spending freeze, cuts in domestic spending, a serious look at defense costs and health care reform were all recognized as serious concerns. The road not taken, was one where the two addresses looked for common ground, and common sense as well as common concern.
There are reasons why there are two parties. People do have different ways to achieve goals, and priorities are not all the same. Regardless of intent, I have to admit, I liked the “date night” approach to Congressional differences. Maybe, like when we were in Junior High school, the next step should be a lunch time dance. Now that would be something to see. We’re just sayin...Iris