The New York Times called the SOTU “making the case for government,” but it was in fact the unveiling of gridlock, the opening of the era of Big Gridlock.
Nothing the president wants as a piece of legislation will emerge from the Congress. Unlike President Reagan in 1981, President Obama doesn’t have a single great demand but a dozen little ones. Thus there will be no marshaling of forces and arm-twisting etc. culminating in a bill of consequence passing on any subject of import.
The House will just say no.
Gridlock ahead, bad appointees, and finger-pointing.
The good news is that this is such a sham that it will not move the country much, if at all, and the 2014 elections will at worse be a wash for the GOP.
The GOP can produce a package of immigration reform bills, but that will be slow work, and not the sort of practical law-crafting that appeals to the president.
No, he will be off to slash the nuclear arsenal soon and call that a win, and to issue executive orders which will annoy but not genuinely change much.
And the consequences of Obamacare will accumulate.
The job of the opposition for the next four years is to stop as much bad law as possible, to point out the consequences of the first wave of bad Obama legislation, and to argue for an increased majority in the House in 2014 and more Republican senators in 2014.
The good news is that every eighth grader you know will go to college under a president not named Obama.
The interesting question will be how the era of Big Gridlock impacts voters. I think they are already tired of the president, and especially of the grandiosity. Samuel Gregg of the Acton Institute argued in the The Corner last night that the speech was remarkable for its lack of modesty about government's abilities. He was right, and the American ear is very finely tuned to braggadocio unsupported by ability. They don't like it much.
The president promised lots and lots. He will get very little--save Senator Hagel--and that's only because of John McCain's odd way of fighting for the truth about Benghazi.