Another Year Older, Another Year Wiser?

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Author’s Note: The year just passed marks the first since its inception in 2001 when I made no posts to this venerable blog. Granted, 2001 and 2002 each saw precisely one post, but still. The Death of Blogs happened to have been widely speculated in 2013–and I was busier living my life than I’ve been in a long, long time–so don’t feel sorry for me. I love the cathartic experience of writing here and I hereby resolve that 2014 will see a return to my former loquacity on topics I deem notable. It’s a large mountain to climb to regain readership and commenters, I know. But I wrote in relative silence and obscurity for years–and I’m willing to do it again because, if I’m to believe myself a writer, I must write.

I missed the #SOTU. Saw a few threads about it on Facebook and Twitter but I mostly kept my thoughts to myself. This morning I took the time to read the transcript (6,000+ words) and I Just Have to Say™ – if words only mattered, everything could be all right.

The president hit every note a concerned American on the Left might want to hear. While not quite chiding an obstructionist, do-nothing Congress, he called out the nation’s representatives in government for a few things–and laid down a gauntlet for them to get it together to do what’s necessary to maintain forward motion on all the right fronts.

He did it by sounding–in my view–like a pragmatic booster from the Chamber of Commerce, like a tender of the Capitalist flame, too. The portrait the president drew of the country’s present and his vision of its future–I just don’t understand how anyone who is not on the Lunatic Right, or anyone who considers herself moderately conservative, could have ANY issue with either one.

Therein lies the crux of the biscuit.

Some on the Left are not happy with this president at all. We wonder why there’s no public option in his vaunted healthcare law. We wonder why it’s taken so long for America’s longest war to be (almost) finally over. We can’t hear the patronizing talk of minimizing drone use and restricting prerogatives of the national surveillance state without rolling our eyes. We hear platitudes of concern for the working class, for the middle class, for the down and out and the destitute–and we wonder why no one went to jail from the financial entities whose mission it is to extract as much profit as is theoretically possible from the hopes and dreams and desperation and greed of those people.

We wonder where is the oversight and regulation of those entities, the lack of which caused the Great Recession.

We wonder why he can’t make up his mind about marijuana.

Then again, Hooray for Gay Marriage!

On the Right, the degree of wild-eyed, frothing-at-the-mouth hatred for the man is comically frightening. Or frighteningly comic. Disturbing, even. But there’s also plenty of plain-old, obstinate refusal to accept the fact that things change–from people who couldn’t care less who is the messenger, or what he looks like.

On the bright side (for those on the Right), he made nary a mention of coming for anyone’s guns, nor showed concern for government’s persistent fascination with women’s lady parts or limiting their reproductive health choices.

The poignant finish, a teary-eyed, patriotic celebration of the sacrifice made by our men and women in uniform to keep the dream alive, designed to bind us all in a common cause–that was better than Bullworth, man.

Meanwhile, members of congress threaten on live television to break reporters “in half. Like a boy.” Average people on both sides of the political aisle call their opposites “ignorant and stupid,” and every single story with those elements at their core the Media plays up, while largely punting on the idea of parsing the president’s words or helping us understand what he might possibly mean when he says them.

So yes. Another year older. Wiser, not so much.

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