Last week President Obama gave his final State of the Union address. It was, essentially, a victory lap and a fairly well-deserved one. By almost any of the normal measures used to assess such things, Obama has had a successful presidency. After inheriting an economic mess, Obama has mostly righted the ship. The deficit has been slashed to a fraction of its former size. Unemployment has dropped considerably, by any of the unemployment measures used, from U-1 through U-6. The stock market is up and job growth has been good. The highly controversial bailout of the auto industry has proven to be the right decision made at the right time. Osama Bin Laden is dead, and the mastermind behind the Benghazi attacks is in U.S. custody. Obama's signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act, has mostly worked despite a few relatively minor hiccups. And so on.
To be fair, the nation still faces substantial problems. Incomes have stagnated for large swathes of the population. Camp X-Ray is still open. The U.S. is still mired in conflicts in the Middle-East. But when these drawbacks are compared to the upside of Obama's presidency, I'll just say I'd rather live in the U.S. of 2016 than the U.S. of 2008. What the State of the Union speech really highlighted was just how far the Republican Party has fallen. Paul Ryan sat sullenly for most of the speech, refusing to acknowledge almost anything said by the President, even working to avoid laughing at any of the humor in Obama's speech. The Republicans sat stone-faced, withholding applause for almost every point. Some were understandable: One wouldn't expect most Republican legislators to applaud for marriage equality. I think they are wrong to oppose it, but they do. On the other hand, they didn't applaud for providing care for troops and veterans or ensuring Americans have their voting rights protected. The Republican Party has become not merely partisan, but petty. Paul Ryan and the rest of his party were, quite simply, not ready for prime time.
Paul Ryan and the various Republican Senators and members of Congress look much better in this video. Backing up Obama, Ryan and Biden show some pretty nice moves, and Ryan even expresses some much needed emotion. Actually, when one thinks about it, learning a choreographed dance routine would probably be a good use of Joe Biden's time, since he's the Vice-President and probably doesn't have much to actually do. Learning the routine would probably a better use of Paul Ryan's time than he has been making of it. To be perfectly honest, most of Congress could be improved with some auto-tune, hip hop beats, and cool dance moves. Perhaps the State of the Union should actually be done this way every year.
On a side note, in my gaming group, Joe Biden has taken on a special significance. When we gather together to play, we eventually get tired and punchy, and at a certain point it becomes "Joe Biden O'Clock", especially when we are playing the game Say Anything, where everyone writes the answers to various questions on small whiteboards. There will come a time at which every answer to every question becomes "Joe Biden", and that's when we know the evening is pretty much over.
The Gregory Brothers Musical Monday Home