As each year passes in the spectacle-driven drama called lackluster government of the United States, the annual State of the Union address features, at best, a failed President addressing a failed Congress as part of a failed system.
At best, Barack Obama is a faltering lame-duck President, worn down by too many missteps, too many debacles in office and too many rejections by U.S. voters.
Americans sealed what was left of his fate in the November 2014 elections by turning over final control — if that is possible — to the party of past — the “defy Obama, reason and compassion” Republicans.
The election outcome was hardly a win by Republicans, but rather a concession by the Democrats who do not have any answers either. Both political parties are special-interest puppets who serve anyone with the money and ignores the needs of the American public as a whole.
I stepped into the political morass of Washington in February 1981 as a staff member for Congressman Paul Findley of Illinois. My plan was to spend a couple of years working on Capitol Hill to learn a bit about how government really works and then return to my chosen profession as a newspaperman.
It took less than a year to learn that government doesn’t work, can’t work and has no real interest in working.
I talked with a couple of newspapers about returning to journalism but the lure of politics and power won out.
At the start of 1983, I was a Congressional chief of staff, running a House office for a freshman Republican and working, first, to get him re-elected, and, second, serve political needs that had nothing to do with serving the people who elected him.
By the time I left Capitol Hill in 1987 as a “special assistant to the ranking member” of the House Science & Technology Committee, I had more than doubled my salary, traveled the world on Congressional junkets and “special investigations” and was offered a number of higher Washington private-sector jobs. I settled for the position of Vice President for Political Programs for the National Association of Realtors, which meant running the then-largest political action committee in town and handing out financial favors.
I also ran a shadow political operation for the Realtors called the “independent expenditures program,” that spent millions on campaigns for chosen candidates without their knowledge or involvement. We won over 90 percent of those elections. We helped elect those who served our needs, not the needs of the public at large.
I left the Realtors in 1992. I was burned out by the double-dealing, the misrepresentations that drove the so-called government in Washington. The two years I planned to spend in Washington to “learn how government really worked” turned into a little more than a decade of learning how to be part of the problem.
I returned to free-lance reporting and photography and, two years after walking away from politics, I took my first step towards sobriety with Alcoholics Anonymous. I’ve been sober, as of today, for 20 years, seven months and 15 days.
So I sat down Tuesday night to write an analysis of the State of the Union speech for one of the publications who contract me to cover politics.
I wrote about the words of the President, his supporters and opponents. I described the hoopla and sideshows that are increasingly part of the State of the Union.
But any real attempt at analysis of President Obama’s words from the podium is useless because there was nothing to analyze in what he said. His carefully-rehearsed words were shallow attempts at justification from a failed President.
The “Republican reaction” by Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa was equally shallow and a robotic use of tired, old talking points.
Republicans plan an onslaught of legislation attempting to dismantle any and all programs and plans of Obama. Obama will respond with a barrage of vetoes. Some may be overridden in Congress, many will not.
In the end, the gridlock that passes for “government” will continue.
State of the Union? There ain’t one. Hasn’t been for a long time.