President Obama’s State of the Union address had a somber tone due to Congress’ reaction to the assassination attempt of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Republicans and Democrats sat together, foregoing the usual split, possibly as a sign of respect for Giffords and the improvement in the state of politics in general. The president commented on Giffords’ absence and the shootings by saying, “Tucson reminded us that no matter who we are and where we come from each of us are a part of something greater … the American family.”
The speech drew massive Internet coverage, and every major media outlet was running live feeds of the important statements Obama made.
Equally important is the ability of the regular person watching the speech to comment and give their reaction. People everywhere responded to the media’s call for an electronic discourse as the speech went on.
The “Twitter-verse” was buzzing with quotes from the speech and scrutinization. Tweets also joked about Vice President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House John Boehner’s facial expressions and reaction to Obama’s words.
The President’s address was almost totally centered around problems found on the homefront. Rightly so, as the U.S. is still dealing with a $14 trillion deficit. The president needed to focus on job creation and economic growth. The Huffington Post reported that “jobs” and “new” were among the most popular words. Obama continued to remind the country that our problems are large and span both parties.
He did not focus much on health care, he urged Republicans to help him improve what they call “Obamacare,” and offered to work with them on changes he’s suggested before, such as medical malpractice reform and getting rid of a paperwork requirement for small businesses.
He stressed investing in technology and used the moon race of the 1960s as an example. He said, “We had no idea how we would beat them (Russia) to the moon.” He stressed that we started behind but were able to invest in technology, and we ended up ahead. At one point he said, “This is our generation’s Sputnik moment.”
He reminded us that we have been a great country and that we can be great again. He said we needed to develop young Americans into the builders and intelligence of the future. It is up to the President, though, to truly push through the correct legislation to make America as competitive as it once was.
The Republican Party’s response highlighted the ineffectiveness of the president’s term. Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the house budget committee, spoke of sorely needed budget cuts. He said the debt will grow to “catastrophic” levels and highlighted the idea that Republicans will pledge to repeal the president’s law, which is “accelerating the country towards bankrupcy.” The response stressed that Obama failed to bring jobs and created more debt.
Rep. Ryan said, “We believe in a safety net for those who cannot provide for themselves.” This seemed to suggest a shift in republican policy which usually leans away from government handouts.