I expected President Obama’s first State of the Union speech to be dramatic, eloquent and inspirational.
And it was all those things. He’s a fine public speaker, probably the best in the White House since Jack Kennedy. He struck most of the right chords, beginning in a somber tone, acknowledging that the nation is still reeling — and hurting — from the current economic depression. And he took us in turns through all the Americas: America the Proud, America the Compassionate, America the Injured, America the Resilient, America the Determined, America the Tough.
It was a splendid ride, but if I may cut to the chase, it was mainly Another Speech.
I don’t expect miracles, and I know he’s only been in office for a year, and he is following the administration of George W. Bush, who must surely have been the worst president ever, and who really did leave a stinking mess behind. But I have the distinct sensation that nothing good is happening in the federal government, and while I want to be tolerant of a man whom I consider smart and decent, I think I’ll hold my applause until I see some action.
I’m not even going to criticize his stupid idea of a “spending freeze,” because, based on past performance, I don’t really know if he’ll actually do it. (For the record, I hope he doesn’t. It’s wrong for job creation and it’s horribly wrong politically.)
I’m not all negative. This is what I want:
- Withdrawal of all big combat troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, to be replaced by diplomats, spies, police and the occasional saboteur.
- Reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act or whatever it might take to make the financial sector act like grownups.
- A hundred billion dollars of infrastructure spending in the next three years (to create jobs, build for the future and fix the Grand Canyon-size potholes on the 405 Freeway).
That will do for now. If I see even one of these ideas pursued intelligently and put into effect, I’ll be a lot more excited about the State of the Union, 2011 Edition.