The most intriguing part of the State of the Union Address for me was watching the Kansas Governor audition for the second spot on the Obama ticket. The main lesson I took from the entire experience, however, is that Obama is playing a dangerous game by creating expectations that he almost certainly cannot deliver on.
Sebelius was compelling, in an Obama like manner, in challenging Bush to finally step up and start acting like most peoples stereotype of a real President. He or they, therefore continue to impress me as a real campaigning juggernaut. But juxtaposed against that image were the scenes of Republicans inside the Chambers, and this created the inevitable conclusion that things need to get far uglier before they have any chance of getting to the good place that Obama promises.
The Bush performance tonight was as cynical and passively-aggressively provocative as anything I have ever witnessed in the form of a national political speech, and the Republicans ate up his every insult at Democrats as if he was throwing them red meat. They both showed that there is absolutely no public appetite among the Congressional Republicans to deviate from any part of the Bush Agenda, and that the 25% hard core wingnut minority can be counted on to walk more in lockstep than anything approaching the same size group in the 75% majority on any issue, let alone on everything.
What Obama seems to me to be on the verge of creating is an expectation among political newbie’s (of whatever age) that he can actually get something significant done quickly and the Republicans tonight just flipped him a giant finger.
Obama needs either to form a national slate of candidates to replace the legislative sludge that he is facing, or he needs to let people know that real progress will only come in two years, when he is able to field such an organization.
Instead, he creates the image that political trench warfare is going to resemble a picnic basket, checkered ground cloth, and a wildflower meadow. To me that borders on false advertising and likely breeds the seeds of its own failure.