It has become
fashionable in some circles to not watch the State of the State or
State of the Union (SOTU) performances by the governor and
It’s true that the
typical “low-information voters” don’t benefit from watching, since
they aren’t prepared to distinguish between reality and fantasy.
However, this description doesn’t apply to us newspaper readers. We
high-information voters can recognize the issues, note the nuances
of expression, the confidence or uncertainty in the presentation,
response from the audience and then from the opposition party — and
this year, after SOTU, responses from various factions of the
opposition party — what could be more fun?
OK, guys, never mind
the root-canal analogy. Modern dentistry has made root canals
painless. I figured all it took for me to get through the evening
was popcorn and a few Cadbury Crème eggs. I’d planned to eat the
first egg when Patrick referenced his proposed candy tax, but he
never mentioned it. Did the Legislature already tell him his new
taxes are dead on arrival this election year?
I did notice that his
popular 2006 campaign promise of “property tax relief” is now merely
“hold the line on property taxes.”
It would have been fun
if he’d mentioned his new $100,000 climate-change czar, expressing
his concern about global warming on another freezing Boston night.
But this was another thing from his budget that didn’t make the
However, I did get a
kick out of the juxtaposition of his two demands: to the
Legislature, “raise the minimum wage,” and to the business
community, “hire someone.” He doesn’t seem to understand the
That’s the thing with
Patrick. As much as I disagree with his $1 billion in tax increases,
as well as those that the Legislature had sense enough not to do,
like his proposed income tax rate hike, and to repeal, like his tax
on computer services, he still strikes me as a pleasant person. I
think that like most liberals, he’s generally clueless rather than
Which brings us to
President Barack Obama and his SOTU speech. As I said, I think we
should all watch for nuance and conviction, but never mind, I fell
asleep in my chair after “Climate change is a fact,” apparently
missing his defiance on Obamacare that was noted by post-SOTU
panels, between my Cadbury cream egg and three maple cookies with
milk that got me through the Republican response.
The catchword of the
month, and therefore both speeches, is “inequality,” which has been
the norm since the beginning of history but is suddenly something to
be fixed by Democrats and, therefore, was also addressed by
Republicans, who would help raise the lowest levels with school
choice instead of by taxing/penalizing/lowering the highest levels.
Rep. Cathy McMorris
Rodgers, R-Washington, made a solid attempt at showing viewers the
kinder, gentler GOP with its own ideas for jobs, health insurance
reform and legal immigration. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who spoke for
the Tea Party Express, started with some reasons that Obama policies
advance inequality but drifted into abortion clinics and marriage,
so I switched to an interview with Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, on Fox; he
had to answer questions about his earlier comments on Bill Clinton
and his “war on women” (sexual activity in the Oval Office), so I
got another cookie from the kitchen and returned to see Congressman
Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, attacking Obama’s arrogant claims that he
can bypass Congress on major issues, without regard to the
Constitution. Both he and Paul referred to the president’s “my way
or the highway” inability to work with Congress, which pretty much
captured the part of SOTU that I saw.
Oh please. Rep. Ileana
Ros-Lehtinen, R-Florida, delivered her own SOTU response in Spanish,
televised by CNN and Telemundo. Helping to keep immigrants trapped
in their own foreign language doesn’t do a thing for their equality.
The opposition party
doesn’t get to have a formal televised response to the governor’s
address, but Sen. Bruce Tarr did a strong on-site interview with New
England Cable News, in which he noted that Massachusetts has one of
the highest minimum-wage rates in the nation, making it tougher to
create entry-level jobs.
The difference in the
two primary speeches is probably the one-party status on Beacon
Hill, which makes Gov. Patrick far less confrontational versus the
two-party ongoing battle in Washington that gives Obama something to
blame for the failure of his policies.
Here is the state of
the nation, in English, according to independent libertarian
tea-partier me. The state of all the states depends on the state of
the union. There is no equality, except the best that can be done
with “equality of opportunity” for people who graduate from high
school and are willing to start in any workplace at low wages and
work their way up, understanding that welfare and permanent
unemployment is no way to live. The U.S. is not a monarchy; the
president must follow the Constitution. If a president doesn’t
understand this, it’s a good idea to make sure the other party
controls Congress. If we don’t do this in November, the state of the
union, a year from now, will be sorry.