Make no mistake: Without all the hell-raising, and all the shouting at the right buildings, and all the drum circles, we would have heard a very different State of the Union speech last night. This country doesn’t like to talk about issues of class. Not in any real sense, anyway. Not in any way that seems to undercut what we believe to be the god-kissed upward mobility that is inherent to America as roadside diners and Jerry Lee Lewis. Alas, since the Masters of the Universe burned down the house a couple of years, the issue of class in all its manifestations have become impossible to ignore. Our neighbors lose their house. Our cousin loses his job. Our kids move back in because, as we may have mentioned on this blog before, Fk The Deficit. People Got No Jobs. People Got No Money. Over the past year, thanks to the hippies in the parks, and the union folks marching in places like Wisconsin and Mitch Daniels’s Indiana, the country has been tied to a chair like Alex in A Clockwork Orange and conditioned to look at what happens to your country’s promise when you hand it over to greedy grifters who shuffle money for a living, and to their political hirelings — like Mitch Daniels, say, about whom more anon — who enable the shuffling and then tell the people whose lives were wrecked by it that they’re just going to have to suffer a little or else The Deficit Monster will come in the night and devour their grandchildren yet unborn. Or something. The president spoke far more about righting the wrongs inherent in the system that got us into this mess than he did about The Deficit. It’s hard to imagine that happening a year ago.
I have no illusions about what last night’s speech was. It was a campaign speech, full of plans and promises that don’t have a sick wife’s chance with Newt Gingrich of ever being passed into law. This is dispiriting, but, considering that Congress has managed to achieve an approval rating that’s barely hovering in single-digits, and considering that it’s an election year and not much would’ve gotten done even if the current Congress wasn’t full of ignorant vandals and politically recalcitrant cementheads, that was completely to be expected. And the plans and promises were surprisingly bold, considering the source. Some of the president’s base is not going to be happy with a lot of the speech; I’m not overjoyed with the saber-rattling over Iran, or the notion that the American political system is basically supposed to be Seal Team 6. (Eric Cantor is supposed to have the president’s back? The president’s supposed to have his? What planet are we on here?) But there are unmistakable signs in the speech that the president’s re-election campaign is going to place the consequences of a rigged economy squarely in the middle of the debate and, coming on the day on which we got a look at the details of Willard Romney’s Most Excellent Life, that is to be applauded more than mildly.