Obama has effectively slammed the door on his last two years in office. In last week’s State of the Union, he explicitly, implicitly, and thoroughly rebuffed everyone who does not agree with him. In contrast to what many have said, his dismissal went beyond being partisan to being personal.
To understand what Obama did in his latest State of the Union, we must appreciate that these addresses are far more than speeches, they are events. Other than the parties’ presidential convention acceptance speeches and Inaugural addresses, this is the nation‘s biggest political platform. Only the president gets this unique opportunity, and he gets it just once a year.
Occasionally the event is heightened further by the circumstances surrounding it. This was such a year. Republicans now fully control Congress and Obama enters his presidency’s final stretch. Obama had the opportunity to formally set the tone, for both the remainder of his presidency and Washington’s new political dynamic. Instead of setting it, he lowered it — and with it, expectations for what Washington can accomplish over the next two years.