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Obama's State of the Union Address, Decoded

It resembled a man walking into his girlfriend’s house and telling her everything that’s wrong with her and what she should do to fix it.

by Harry Cheadle
14 February 2013, 8:00am

Last night, the world got to witness one of the least entertaining traditions in American politics: the State of the Union address. This is a speech that the president is (sort of) required by the Constitution to give to Congress every year. Normally, he uses that opportunity to go through a bunch of policies he’d like to enact (lots of paragraphs on jobs, a few on climate change, nothing at all on prisons) and everyone in attendance applauds periodically.

Nothing really happens as a result of this speech – it’s mainly just an opportunity for Barack Obama to explain what he would do if he was king and not just president and for the Republicans to issue a response, which in this case consisted of Marco Rubio saying “cut taxes” 1,300 times and amusing the internet by drinking water. (Rand Paul delivered a response on behalf of the Tea Party; if anyone delivered a left-wing rebuttal to Obama’s speech, nobody paid attention, which probably tells you something about America’s politics.)

Obama’s speech was exactly what you’d expect (full transcript here). He started out with the good news – “Together, we have cleared away the rubble of crisis and can say with renewed confidence that the state of our union is stronger,” he intoned – before spending the remaining 50-plus minutes talking about bad news and railing against Congress’s total unwillingness or inability to get anything he wants done.

Basically, the 2013 State of the Union address resembled a man walking into his girlfriend’s house, standing in front of her and telling her everything that’s wrong with her and what she should do to fix it. Or at least it resembled that if you were listening to what Obama meant instead of what he said.

What he said:
“[The American people] don't expect those of us in this chamber to agree on every issue. But they do expect us to put the nation's interests before party. They do expect us to forge reasonable compromise where we can.”
What he meant:
Okay, Republicans, guys, for fuck’s sake: We have to raise the debt ceiling in order to pay the bills we’ve already said we would pay. We have to do this every time it comes up. You tried to attach spending cuts to the debt-ceiling bill – you try to attach spending cuts to everything – but guess what? I called you out for your ridiculous, politically untenable position, you gave in to reason, and now we will probably have to do this again in 90 days. Let’s compromise on this, by which I mean stop being such incredible assholes.”

What he said:
“So let's set party interests aside, and work to pass a budget that replaces reckless cuts with smart savings and wise investments in our future. And let's do it without the brinkmanship that stresses consumers and scares off investors.”
What he meant:
“Your party has a bunch of nutjobs in it who refuse to do anything but cut spending. This ‘strategy’ has hurt our bond rating in the past, but your real problem is that these negotiations just make people like me more. So let’s pass a budget for the first time since 2009, for the love of Christ. If we don’t, everyone’s going to blame you, not me.” [Makes “suck it” gesture, then raises arms into the air as if to say, “You wanna piece of this?”]

What he said:
“Tonight, let's declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour.”
What he meant:
“Listen, I am fully aware that this is basically impossible. I campaigned on raising the minimum to $9.50 back in 2008, but didn’t deliver on that promise because a) I was busy doing all kinds of other shit you may have read about; and b) Republicans shoot down all of my party’s bills that would raise the federal minimum wage. Just reminding you that I haven’t forgotten I want to do this.”

What he said:
“I urge this Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago.”
What he meant: 
“Remember cap and trade? That was YOUR MOTHERFUCKING IDEA. Now you guys refuse to even consider it. Like the minimum wage, this idea isn’t going anywhere, I’m just reminding you what colossal, cum-stained dicks you guys are being, like, all the time.”

What he said:
“We can say with confidence that America will complete its mission in Afghanistan, and achieve our objective of defeating the core of al Qaeda. Already, we have brought home 33,000 of our brave servicemen and women. This spring, our forces will move into a support role, while Afghan security forces take the lead… And by the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over.”
What he meant:
“The surge in Afghanistan pretty much failed, but we have to leave because there’s nothing we can do to make that nightmarish mountain range of a country successful. We’re going to leave it in the hands of crooks (who, by the way, were on the CIA payroll as recently as four years ago) because there’s not much else we can do. Whatever. Chalking it up as a win and washing my hands.”

What he said:
“Beyond 2014, America's commitment to a unified and sovereign Afghanistan will endure, but the nature of our commitment will change.”
What he meant:
Drones drones drones drones drones drones!”

What he said:
[Gun control] proposals deserves a vote in Congress. If you want to vote no, that's your choice. But these proposals deserve a vote.”
What he meant:
United Republican opposition to 100 percent of my policies means that I can’t get much done. Okay, I’m a big boy, I’ve had this job for four years, I get that. But can you guys at least make your testicles descend enough to call a vote on the shit I want done and say, ‘Mr. President, we won’t approve gun control because the NRA is both our mommy and our daddy and we suck its dick and boobies, and we don’t want to do anything about people being shot, or people being poor, because we’re hopelessly in the grip of rich people and fundamentalist Christians.’ Forget ‘bipartisan solutions.’ Just vote on bills the way you are fucking supposed to. Do your job, motherfuckers.” [Grabs nuts aggressively, walks off stage with both middle fingers in the air.]

Follow Harry on Twitter: @HCheadle

More political cynicism from this author:

Meet the New President, Same as the Old President 

The Debate, Decoded

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