How aggressive was the first State of the Union of President Barack Obama‘s second term in office? The answer to that question lies in the frowns, sighs and other varying expressions of displeasure from Speaker of the House, John Boehner (R-OH).
As Obama spoke of greater investment in infrastructure and education, called for gun control and a democracy that bothers to make it easy for its citizens to vote, and stressed a higher minimum wage so that working Americans might have a fighting chance at bypassing the poverty line, Boehner sat there looking like his heart was full of salt and his nostrils fueled with the stench of a dozen rotten eggs.
Meanwhile, many of Obama’s supporters thus far have been more excited about the president laying out a remarkably ambitious second term agenda (read the State of the Union in full here). If Obama were to have his way, the federal minimum wage would be $9; every four-year-old in the country would have access to preschool; the government would work with private industry to ensure that our decaying roads and bridges were upgraded; background checks would ensure that felons would face a much harder time obtaining access to gunsl and undocumented workers would enjoy a much easier path to citizenship. Moreover, a bipartisan council would recommend ways in which voters would no longer have to wait in line for several hours in order to exercise their right to vote.
Say, voters like 102-year-old Desiline Victor, whom President Obama saluted for waiting in line for hours to exercise her right to vote. Staying true to (pathetic) form, Boehner couldn’t be bothered to stand and salute Victor for her commitment to our process. I can’t help but take that as a sign of what he makes of much of Obama’s vision for moving the country forward.
Rather one agrees with his politics or not, Obama deserves some credit for being more direct with his challenges to Congress, urging them to tackle his domestic agenda and stop engaging in pointless political games.
He warned Boehner and his minions in the House of Representatives: “Today, the Senate passed the Violence Against Women Act…I urge the House to do the same.” He also added, ”I ask this Congress to declare that women should earn a living equal to their efforts.”
When it came to the issue of gun control, Obama made an impassioned plea to Congress to at least allow the measures to have their day, regardless of what the outcome may be. Indeed, Obama argued, “If you want to vote no, that’s your choice. But these proposals deserve a vote.” He went on to remind us that “the two months since Newtown, more than a thousand birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun.”
As for climate change, Obama declared: ”If Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will.”
Watch State of the Union 2013 below:
Finally, Obama invoked the rampant gun violence plaguing Chicago, including 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, who after performing at the inauguration, “was shot and killed in a Chicago park after school, just a mile away from my house” a week later.