A Speech and a President, Unbounded by Reality

Jackie Gingrich Cushman
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Posted: Jan 22, 2015 12:01 AM
A Speech and a President, Unbounded by Reality

Enthusiastic, entertaining, energized and eminent, President Obama's demeanor and delivery at the State of the Union belied his political reality. Unbowed, unbroken and possibly unaffected by the recent midterm Republican wave, Obama displayed his great skill by delivering an emotional teleprompter-driven speech that was a throwback to his first election. Varying tempo, pitch, passion and inflection, his speech was more a theatrical performance than a delivery of a prewritten, pre-released text.

He was unbounded by his political reality.

Possibly no one in his staff had informed him that he had 90 fewer elected Democrats in his audience than has any other Democratic president in the past 90 years.

Or possibly his reality is so unbounded by voter action that he does not care.

In an attempt to pull us together psychologically, the speech began and ended by referring to the time frame, our nation being 15 years into the new century, and by pulling us into a specific story through the use of the narrative of Rebecca and her family.

Obama then suggested we suspend reality together. "But tonight, we turn the page," Obama offered, moving from reality to fairy tale. This was an attempt to reframe the listeners' minds from the current reality of a resounding Republican midterm election victory to a new state where Obama still gets to set and drive the agenda.

Unbounded by reality.

Like melodies in hit pop songs, phrases were repeated again and again to pull the listener along the storyline and allow Obama, the storyteller, to build anticipation and resolution.

The repetitive phrases moved from "Will we accept ... Will we approach ... Will we allow," followed by "We believed ... We believed ... We believed ... We believed," to "As Americans ... As Americans ... As Americans," then a hopeful, "A better politics ... A better politics ... A better politics," finally closing with, "I want ... I want ... I want ... I want ... I want."

His repetition moved from "we" to "me." Obama's vision of the future is bound by his wants, rather than the want and will of the American people.

Unbounded by reality.

His psychic state was fully revealed in his ad-lib. In response to Republican applause after he noted that, "I've run my last campaign," a seemingly triumphant Obama paused, smiled and retorted, "I know, because I won both of them."

Naturally, this response by Obama was greeted with applause from his democratic allies; his smile and smugness of having won twice provided a glimpse into his state of mind. Instead of being subdued and humbled by the midterm Republican wave, Obama remains sure that his perspective and agenda must surely come out on top.

He is unbounded by the reality of the recent voter actions.

"It's now up to us to choose who we want to be over the next 15 years, and for decades to come," said Obama, emphasizing that he wanted to "focus more on the values at stake in the choices before us."

The values are clear. Obama's vision includes a future where more government leads to a better life for Americans. He is untamed by the recent scandals and proof of bureaucratic incompetency at the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Internal Revenue Service and in the rollout of the health care exchange website.

Unbounded by reality.

While Obama is correct that Americans don't mind paying their fair share of taxes, they want to be certain that what is being spent is used wisely and effectively.

This has yet to happen.

Unbound by reality, Obama shares his message: I am from the government, and I am here to help.

While it may be an attractive phrase, "middle-class economics" does not exist. The economy is an integrated system that comprises all the people, institutions, (public and private) and companies in our nation. For it to work at its best, all need to be encouraged to work not only harder, but also more efficiently and effectively -- the rich and poor as well as the middle class. More money leading to more waste does not lead to better outcomes.

This week, we saw the president, in a brilliantly delivered speech, describing a reality that does not exist.