With a strong, optimistic beginning and an unforgettable ending, that may have been President Obama’s best State of the Union speech. Apparently none of the commentators who have been saying his presidency is on its last legs bothered to let him know.
He opened with a portrait of the country – not an America gripped by crisis or mired in despondency, but a sunny place where unemployment is falling, school test scores are rising, housing prices are recovering, deficits are shrinking and manufacturing jobs are coming home. “I believe this can be a breakthrough year for America,” Obama said. The big problem, he said, was the performance of the people sitting before him in the House chamber: “We are not doing right by the American people.” He went on to excoriate Congress for its insistence on trench warfare, challenged his opponents to “focus on creating new jobs, not creating new crises” and pledged that if Republicans won’t work with him, he will take executive action where possible.