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Joseph Kaminski

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October 20, 2017

A Review of Obama’s Last State of the Union Address


Last night’s State of the Union Address was a rather important one. All three of the prominent figures – President Barack Obama, Vice President and President of the Senate Joe Biden, and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan – must have felt pressure. Not from the job, but from his own party.

For Obama and Biden, bittersweet nostalgia had to have been present. They’ve been doing this for eight years now, and this is their last. But now, they’ve made it to the final stretch – the last flight of stairs in the peak of their careers. For Obama, this is his final year as President. What he does after this is up to him – whether he intends on going back to Chicago or developing his narratives – but the journey as President is almost over.

For Biden, this was the last time he’ll sit behind Barack Obama for the State of the Union Address. The last time he resides over the SOTU as President of the Senate, Biden inches closer and closer to retirement from politics. Eight years have come and gone with Biden at the helm of the Senate, so the past must have been with the present for him.

While this was the last State of the Union Address for Barack Obama and Joe Biden, it’s the first for Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who was fairly recently elected into the office – despite knowing it would peak his own career with the radical Tea Party members of his party hating governing officials and wanting hypocritical family leave despite what his political beliefs are. For Ryan, this was the first real station of power that he held. Positioned right behind the most important man in America, gavel in hand, and smug look on his face.

The State of the Union began with the crowd chanting “Obama!” as the President settled himself into position. Ryan introduced the President, and the crowd roared with approval.

“Tonight marks the eighth year that I’ve come here to report on the State of the Union. And for this final one, I’m going to try and make it a little shorter. I know some of you are a little antsy to get back to Iowa. I’ve been there, and I’ll be shaking hands afterwards if you want some tips. I understand that because it is an election season, expectations for what we will achieve this year are low.”

Obama SOTU

Obama at the 2016 State of the Union

Obama began with a joke, poking fun at the very few Presidential Candidates who made appearances at the State of the Union. Bernie Sanders was present, gaining massive camera attention throughout the beginning. Marco Rubio decided to fucking show up to the Senate floor for once, and the camera probably focused on him for about two seconds. The same amount of time he’s spent doing his job in the past few years.

As for the rest of the candidates gunning for the job that would require them to stand in Obama’s shoes this time next year, they were no-shows. Clinton spent the night fundraising in Detroit. Kasich spent the night in California. Cruz, of course, is focusing in on New Hampshire. Paul left Washington to hit his designated campaign trail. Santorum campaigned across Iowa. Huckabee spent his night bitching on Twitter and lying through his teeth. Trump tweeted about the newest CBS poll.

Regardless, Obama completed one of the most successful State of the Unions since Bill Clinton. The foundational aspects of his message were simple: the basic, cliché political structures we hear most politicians talking about. But, as he continued evolving with his ideas, we saw a side of Obama that we really haven’t seen on the GOP-controlled Senate floor. One that got Republicans to clap for climate change, health care, and changes to our society. Of course, tomorrow the Republican party will fully disagree with everything Obama’s said. They’ll blame something on Obama’s message, guaranteed. But, it’s something Democrats could use in advertisements until the end of time.

“Helping students write computer code, medical care, fixing a broken immigration system, protecting our kids from gun violence, equal pay for equal work, paid leave, raising minimum wage.”

Obama mentioned his stance on several important topics when it comes to America’s current frontier. Technology, healthcare, immigration, gun violence, and wages were all mentioned and discussed throughout Obama’s eighth and final State of the Union address. Expressing his support for expanding our education system and referencing his executive action on gun control, Obama continued the address with a confident message for America.

“I don’t want to focus on this year. I want to focus on the next five years, the next ten years, and beyond. I want to focus on our future. We live in a time of drastic change. Amazing medical breakthroughs, strained economic problems. Terrorists plotting an ocean away. […] The pace of this change will only accelerate.”

Focusing on our future instead of the present, recognizing the good and bad of our current platform. While we’ve seen amazing breakthroughs in the worlds of technology and science, our economics have radicalized, and the threat of ISIL still remains as strong as ever. Obama remained confident, speaking strongly and focusing on the most important problems facing America as his final year in office begins.

“America has been through big changes before. Wars and depression. The influx of immigration. Each time, there has been times those feared the future. Promise to restore past glory if we threaten people. Each time we overcame those fears.”

Destroying Donald Trump without even mentioning his name, President Obama completely and utterlyowned Trump’s entire campaign. Trump’s entire presidential campaign has been based on nothing but racism, sexism, hypocrisy, and white angst populism. He’s been using propaganda to rise in the polls, threatening entire ethnic groups and religions in the process.

Ironically, the GOP response (coming from South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley) focused strongly on how immigration is a bad thing, despite her family coming through that way. Of course, she meant illegal immigration, but her point still contradicted itself through her own party’s obsession with a man like Trump. But what else is new? We know the Republican party is the party of hypocrites.

Obama continued, labeling the four most important questions of the night:

  1. How do we give everyone an opportunity in this economy?
  2. How do we make technology work for us and not against us? Climate change?
  3. How do we make world safe w/o becoming policeman?
  4. How do we make our politics reflect what’s best in us and not what’s worse?”

Question three is where Obama began contradicting himself, claiming America’s dynamic role in world policing is too much. He cites the unstable areas of the world, and claims that diplomatic reasoning is far better than military power.

He goes on to say, as seen in the quote that will soon follow, that America is the strongest power in the world, citing the insane amount of money we pour into our military – stronger than the next eight nations (including Russia and China). His policies with Afghanistan, for the most part, completely disagree with his mindset on ending the world police title America holds.

His stance on the TPP further misaligned his thought process.

However, these are the only faults present within Obama’s final State of the Union address.

“Sixty years ago when the Russians defeated us into space, we didn’t disagree with the science. We didn’t question it. We built a space program overnight and kept going. That spirit of discovery is in our DNA. […] The USA is the most powerful nation on earth. Period. It’s not even close! It’s not even close! It’s not even close! We spend more money on military than the next eight nations combined!”

His stance on climate change is present throughout the latter half of the speech. He’s completely right. Disagreeing with climate change is exactly the same as disagreeing with fact: The Sputnik made it into space before American ingenuity did. An interesting historical comparison that still holds meaning.

Obama, throughout the entire State of the Union, seemed tired. Not physically, but mentally. He’s tired of fighting with the politics, he’s tired of screaming at a wall, and he’s tired of watching senseless garbage continue on. He’s at the end of his Presidency – now entering a possible lame duck year after his final State of the Union address. He’s tired, but he’s still going strong.

Paul Ryan stood up zero times, looking on with disrespect and a smug look on his face for this being his first State of the Union address as Speaker of the House. Joe Biden stood up multiple times, standing ovation styled. There was no shit eating grin this time, like there was in 2014, however. It shows just how much resent people like Ryan, the base of the Republican Party besides white angst, feel towards the President.

It’s sad to see, at least on C-SPAN (the channel I watched the State of the Union address on), that most of the public’s feedback wasn’t necessarily on President Obama’s actions or ideas. They were too focused on Obama being the first black president, for the most part.

And how it ends is how it is:

THE STATE OF THE UNION IS STRONG.

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