Eight years back, millions of Americans were intrigued with Barack Obama’s goal of hope and change. He’d find it hard to deny that lots of them really don’t feel he’s delivered.
With that lack of support in mind people could possibly have expected a tub-thumping final State Of The Union address — bulging with boasts with regards to his achievements at work. But he’s clearly more than happy leaving the bragging to Donald Trump.
Warnings to protect against Trumpism peppered his voice culminating in a direct attack: “When politicians insult Muslims…that’s not telling it like it is. It’s just wrong. It diminishes us in the eyes of the world.”
“The world will look to us to help solve… problems, and our answer needs to be more than tough talk or calls to carpet bomb,” he said, in a swipe at the another reputable Republican Presidential hopeful, Ted Cruz.
He responded to Republican claims that his weak leadership has reduced America’s standing in the world: “The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth. Period. It’s not even close.”
But any hard talk was nearly obsolete by a contemplative tone — every now and then it felt much more like a lecture from a professor of American studies rather than the President of United States of America.
He allowed himself an exceptional moment of public self-doubt, detailing how his time in office might have been improved: “It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency — that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better,” he said.
In fact, the scars of seven years of partisan scraps with Congressional Republicans were clear to understand. This has been a President in need of the last word. He chided America’s lawmakers for not approving legislation on IS, for thinking about re-election and fundraising events, and for too readily acknowledging a dysfunctional political system.
Arguably, the political stagnation in Washington prevalent throughout Obama’s years in office has built the bedrock for the anti-establishment presidential strategies of Cruz and Trump. A refusal to accept politics as usual is the motif of both of their campaigns. It’s a message that’s resonating.
And these days, the political establishment is rattled and shaken. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has decided to allow the official Republican response to Obama’s speech. She used her address to warn against the allure of the “siren call of the angriest voices”.
“Some people think you have to be the loudest voice in the room to make a difference,” she said, with a note of future alarm in her voice.
Obama concluded his address by saying that America really needs to change the way in which does its politics. It may already have done so — just not how he might have preferred.