Uncertain. Uneasy. The looks on their faces said it all: our vice president to the left, with his practiced, professional smile trying to mask insecurity over how the nation would respond to whatever Obama was going to say next, and our house speaker to the right, with his pained, poker face trying to mask discomfort with what the president was saying and how such refined wool would doubtless blur the nation’s vision.
Never heard such a quiet audience. Never heard a state of the union so carefully crafted to avoid conflict rather than “march into hell for a heavenly cause.” But, he accomplished his goal, I’d say. My two young adult sons, both college graduates but living at home without jobs in their fields yet, left politely after listening to the speech and went into the other room to see how the Australian open was panning out. They, too, were unsure of how to respond.
I think that’s all Obama was hoping for…to keep out of trouble just now with an eye toward being re-elected in 2012. This wasn’t a state of the union really, it was his first big chance for a campaign apologetic, based largely on McCain’s 2008 campaign platform. Maybe if McCain been a young, charismatic Democrat, he would have won. McCain was, after all, one of the few men who did seem at ease tonight, probably because he’s old enough to appreciate that sometimes you win personally when you lose politically.
Don’t misunderstand me. There are some things about Obama that make me happy. I am a fan of someone with black skin becoming president in this melting-pot country of ours. I truly have bought into the American Dream, and I love the fact that someone from a broken home and an amazingly diverse and difficult childhood can rise to the highest office in our country. I love having a handsome, lanky, young leader who can calculate his environment and change course like a chameleon. I, too, will clap for a president who praises our teachers and soldiers and women, who commends the ideals of our country, and who ends his speech with a double “God bless.” I like all that.
However, I love actually pursuing truth, wisdom, and honesty even more. I’d rather have a clear call to what is right than a mesmerizing melody that sounds pleasant but appears to be carefully crafted political rhetoric to keep the nation uncertain and…possibly as comfortable as a frog in a steaming pot?? Give me life, freedom to pursue goodness and happiness in a just and fair way, and constitutional faithfulness, and I’ll be happy. Try to pull the wool over my eyes, and I’ll be uncomfortable and wary. Not at ease, but dis-eased, just like the rest of the folks who sat listening to Obama tonight.
What now? Pray for our leaders. Pray for our nation. Be a part of His people, who are called by His name, who are willing to humble themselves and pray. And work. And sacrifice for the sake of others, the health of our nation, and our world. May we turn away from evil in repentance and seek justice and righteousness for our nation. And, in our personal lives, may we “do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8).