Declaring “I don’t quit,”‘ an embattled President Barack Obama vowed in his first State of the Union address Wednesday night to make job growth his topmost priority and urged a divided Congress to boost the still-ailing economy with fresh stimulus spending. Defiant despite stinging setbacks, he said he would not abandon ambitious plans for longer-term fixes to health care, energy, education and more.
“Change has not come fast enough,” Obama said before a politician-packed House chamber and a TV audience of millions. “As hard as it may be, as uncomfortable and contentious as the debates may be, it’s time to get serious about fixing the problems that are hampering our growth.”
Obama looked to change the conversation from how his presidency is stalling — over the messy health care debate, a limping economy and the missteps that led to Christmas Day’s barely averted terrorist disaster — to how he is seizing the reins.
A chief demand was for lawmakers to press forward with his prized health care overhaul, which is in severe danger in Congress, and to resist the temptation to substitute a smaller-bore solution for the far-reaching changes he wants.
“Do not walk away from reform,” he implored. “Not now. Not when we are so close.”
Republicans applauded the president when he entered the chamber, and even craned their necks and welcomed Michelle Obama when she took her seat. But the warm feelings of bipartisanship disappeared early.
I don’t know how “embattled” President Obama is right now. Every president is “embattled.” I found the tone of the SOTU remarkable. But Congress needs to remember how to be a parliament, and they’re not there yet. Republicans say, “NO!” Democrats let the tail wag the dog and give up the fight. The intelligence factor in Congress is rather low right now, I fear, on both sides of the aisle. Republicans are too dumb to realize that there is more to life than cheap politics, and Democrats are too dumb to know how to make Congress work.
I’m glad this president does not “give up.” We still have work to do.