The Republican exodus began before President Obama had even finished.
As soon as the president gave his closing assessment Tuesday night on the state of the union—unsurprisingly, that it’s “strong”—in his final such address to Congress, the GOP side of the House chamber got up to leave.
They’d had enough, it seemed, with the era of Obama, and had no interest in hearing anything more. But he wasn’t quite finished: He still needed to deliver the customary “God bless the United States of America.” By the time he’d said it, though, half the GOP had already turned their backs on him—perhaps so they could head for the waiting TV cameras. It was a symbolic culmination to an optimistic, forward-looking speech that garnered only tepid bipartisan support.
Obama struck a hopeful tone, emphasizing that change—while unsettling—can be positive. Though the country had been through big changes before, America rose to the challenge, overcoming the fear to “slam the brakes.
“We made change work for us, always extending America’s promise outward, to the next frontier, to more and more people,” he said. “And because we did—because we saw opportunity where others saw only peril—we emerged stronger and better than before.”