Watching President Obama’s State of the Union address last night, I couldn’t help but feel the comfort level that he seemed to exude. The speech seemed similar in tone to his Tucson one that received widespread support and has bolstered his popularity rating.
The tone and substance of both speeches have focused on national unity and addressing key problems in particular economic ones without partisan polarization.
But is this a new Obama? I don’t think so. I believe it is the real Obama.
These two speeches have been similar to his address to the Democratic Party convention in 2004 that brought the president into national prominence.
Remember one of his famous lines in that speech? “There are no red states or blue states, there is only the United States of America.”
The Tucson and the State of the Union are a continuation of that convention speech where Obama attempts to transcend partisanship and represents himself as the Great Unifier.
Obama, it seems to me, is at his best and seems more comfortable not leading the Democratic Party, but as a good lawyer bringing together disputing sides. His comfort level is best mediating rather than leading a fight.
But what does this mean for national policy? The reality is that nothing will be accomplished in Washington during the next two years if both Democrats and Republicans don’t work together. This is asking a lot since some Republicans have commented that there main job is to defeat the President in the 2012 elections.
But Obama might be putting the Republicans in a corner by appearing to be the Great Compromiser while challenging the Republicans to continue to be the party of no.
The visuals were striking at the State of the Union. President Obama looked totally comfortable and confident while behind him Speaker John Behner looked uncomfortable and not sure when to clap because Obama was outflanking the Republicans by appropriating some of their issues and calling for compromise and unity.
One thing is certain: it will not take long to see whether compromise and unity wins out. What is more certain is that President Obama has now found his comfort zone.