Obama’s State of the Union

I’m going to be honest. When I started writing this, I really wanted to put Obama on blast. I wanted to tear him down. I wanted to channel the discontent and undeniable frustration that my generation (where less than 1 percent of us disagree with the 99 percent) has been voicing. Unfortunately, after watching the State of the Union, I was forced to recognize the better points that Limbaugh and Beck’s arch-nemesis had to offer.

You can look at the State of the Union a couple ways. You could see it as meaningless political rhetoric, that doesn’t amount to anything (after all, how many things did Obama accomplish from last year’s speech?). Or, you can actually listen to what the president is saying, and analyze its relative value. It’s a shame that so many people decide which one they are going to do solely based on whether they are an elephant or an ass.

Personally, I was genuinely surprised at how many things I agreed with Obama on. Well, I mean, I guess it’s difficult to disagree with facts (unless you’re a Republican). He brought up some points like: Last year, we reduced the deficit by $2 trillion, created 3 million jobs, and we’ve had the most new jobs created than in the last seven years. He went on to talk about his plan for sustainable economic growth. He really focused on three things in this fancy new plan of his: manufacturing, education and energy.

Obama pretty much based his entire manufacturing argument on the basis that General Motors (GM) is “the number #1 car company in the world,” and that “Chrysler is the fastest growing car company in the world.” OK. Besides the fact that I disagree with both of those points (If GM was so great, why did they fail and need to be bailed out? BMW never needed Germany to bail them out. Also, did we forget about Fiat? They pretty much didn’t exist a week ago, and now I see half a dozen of their cars parked on Ring Road),  I do think it’s a valuable thing to place importance in American manufacturing. Because, let’s be honest, American-made has been synonymous with “will break down after 5,000 miles and/or after 200 hours of use” for the last 20 years. So, good for Obama for trying to promote new, American jobs especially by cutting tax incentives for outsourcing.

Education. Boy, oh, boy. This part of his speech seemed pretty quick and painless. He basically said that companies should train 2 million people with skills that will allow them to get a job. This could mean companies paying tuition for students, in exchange for the students working for them after graduation. Then Obama basically told universities, “Be nice to teachers, ya jerks! And while you’re at it, stop raising tuition, or I’m going to cut your funding!” Yeah. He’s pretty badass.

Between awkward jokes about milk and a weird few sentences about illegal immigration, Obama settled on the last piece of his “Let’s Make America Great” plan: energy. To be succinct, he pretty much said that we need clean energy. When he noticed that not every single person in Congress was giving him the standing ovation he deserved, he kind of snapped at him.

Honestly. I was surprised. He has some hootspa in him (or chutzpah, to some). He told both parties that they were involved in a “perpetual campaign of mutual destruction.” Then he told them to grow up. Emotionally. Because the rest of America thinks Washington is broken. Basically, he made it seem like he was working with a bunch of children. But all the children were actually playing a real-life “Call of Duty” game. And that “Call of Duty” game was called “The Legislative Process.” And the bills were … never mind.

I thought it was a fantastic speech. While I was taken aback by how many tax cuts he was proposing (I felt like I was watching a Reagan speech), and I felt myself want to vote for Ron Paul every time he used recycled Washington rhetoric, I still think he brought up some fantastic points. He mentioned equal rights for women, making taxes on the middle class and millionaires more fair, and he chastised grown men. All good things. So, while he didn’t sing Al Green, I suppose it was a decent speech.

Justin Huft is a third-year psychology and social behavior major. He can be reached at jhuft@uci.edu.