Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Veiled Partisanship at the State of the Union

President Obama made gestures towards non-partisanship in his State of the Union address last night, encouraging Americans not to "obsess over their differences" and emphasizing the value of not "Democratic values or Republican values, but American values."

As the Huffington Post reports, some reactions to the address unexpectedly broke the mold of partisanship in this way. In the official GOP rebuttal, Indiana governor Mitch Daniels echoed Obama's arguments for national interest above party interest. Daniels explained what he saw as a need to "express agreement where it exists" and asserted that "the challenges aren't matters of ideology, or party preference; the problems are simply mathematical, and the answers are purely practical."

But, unfortunately, most responses to the speech did in fact fall directly along lines of ideology and party preference. Predictably, Obama received approval from most Democrats and criticism from Republicans ranging from establishment figures like Mitt Romney to Tea Party favorites such as Herman Cain.

Perhaps the only reaction to the speech that was shared by everyone watching was a chuckling groan in response to the "spilled milk" joke.

Even in Obama's and Daniels's addresses, the rhetoric of cooperation quickly gave way to that of gridlock. Each blamed the opposing side for many of the problems facing the country, and offered very few specific areas in which compromise might be possible.

Talking about cooperation is a great start towards solving the issues America faces. But if gridlock continues once all the speeches are done, nothing has really changed.

1 comment:

  1. Agreed. "working together" polls very well; it is what independents and even some partisans whan to hear. Identifyingareas where this is possible, finding willing members of the opposition to do so, and then executing is much more difficult.