1. It’s Tuesday, January 12, 2016.
2. What’s interesting when an accomplished entertainer passes is the level of unity generated by reflection upon his or her career.
So, the famous and the not-so-famous all commented fondly yesterday about the work done by David Bowie. Almost everyone, it seems, has a favorite song of his, and you could see people mentally humming “Changes” or “Modern Love” or any of the others.
When I think of Bowie, I think of his influence on how sexual orientation is viewed. His first persona was androgynous. Was he gay or wasn’t he? And then, after listening to the music, finding the question change to “Does it really matter?”
In the end, it didn’t. The work, over more than 40 years, spoke for itself. That people of all generations, of all nations, of all types feel at least a twinge of sadness for this man’s passing says more about his success than anything else possibly could. It speaks of a life well lived, and shorter than it should have been.
3. The White House hype for tonight’s State of the Union speech compares to that for last night’s national college football championship.
On my Twitter feed this morning is a black-and-white video of the President with an almost church-like organ playing in the background. Obama talks about what the administration has accomplished in seven years, but also hints that tonight’s speech will be more about his vision for the future, well beyond the 374 days left in his term.
And why not? Usually, the State of the Union is a long list of things the President wants Congress to accomplish in the next year. But you know and I know and he knows and they know that Obama is going to get next of nothing of what he wants from a Republican Congress in an election year.
So why bother asking for a lot of legislation that only get his supporters’ hopes up?
Instead, he can talk about what the nation faces as it moves toward the middle of the 21st century.
I don’t know exactly what he’s going to say. Here are my guesses:
— He’ll talk about how to keep the American economy dominant in a changing world, and yet provide people with a sense of security – the lack of which is spurring the success of a demagogue such as Trump.
— He’ll talk about how the nation needs to stay in front of the world in technology, and how it needs to be a little in combatting the ravages of climate change – even though he’s speaking in a roomful of people who still think it’s non-existent.
— And he’ll talk about to face down the threats of a world in which losers believe their second change at glory is to mow down people in a Paris concert hall, blow up a tourist center in Istanbul or seize a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon. (Actually, I wouldn’t bet a lot of money he’ll call out the jackasses in Oregon, but I would love to see it.)
No President in my lifetime – including JFK and Reagan – has the ability to hold an audience when speaking the way Barack Obama does. The hype for the State of the Union rivals last night’s college football championship – if it delivers nearly as well, it should be quite a night.