A few thoughts about political car wrecks

FT_Obama_SOTU

The political process in this country is kind of like an auto accident — not something I want to personally experience, but still can’t stop gawking at when it happens.

ErnstPresident Barack Obama gave his seventh State of the Union Address last night. He was followed by Sen. Joni Ernst, the Republican junior senator from my home state, who gave her party’s response.

I didn’t watch or listen to a minute of any of it. But I did casually follow it via social media, from which I have learned:

  • Obama scored points with his supporters for his unscripted poke at the Republicans in Congress who applauded when he said no more campaigns are in his future.
  • Ernst says she wore bread bags over her shoes during the Iowa winters of her childhood.

B71ttrnCMAAIV9UBut the best quip I saw in the Twitterverse addressed neither Obama nor Ernst. “I like how there are two people of color on the podium,” some smart aleck said about Speaker of the House John Boehner, who was also the subject of this image on Twitter.

Since I didn’t watch or listen to the speeches, I can’t offer much for analysis. From what I’ve read this morning, the president offered up much that his supporters will like, things that would be difficult to pay for and will likely never happen no matter how worthwhile they may, or may not, be. And most of them won’t be viewed as worthwhile by those who don’t agree with Obama.

In other words, not much will change in Washington.

When it comes to Ernst, the senator and I are roughly the same age. We grew up at roughly the same time in parts of Iowa that are very similar. Like her, I grew up in a farm family that was far from well off. But my siblings and I always had good overshoes or snow boots in the winter. I knew kids who wore bread bags. They wore them over their socks, but under their shoes, in order to keep their feet dry.They didn’t wear them over their shoes.

I’m sure the senator is a nice person, but I don’t believe her bread bag story. It sounds like the sort of thing that has been embellished by political handlers and speechwriters because doing so is easier than it is to spell out specifically what you plan to do — another sign that nothing will change in Washington.

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