President Barack Obama Delivers His Last State of the Union Address, With Humor
President Barack Obama delivered his last State of the Union address Tuesday night and promised to be brief, "because I know some of you are anxious to make it back to Iowa," he joked about the upcoming caucuses to thunderous laughter.
Promising to make his remarks unconventional, the first black president of America didn't make the traditional, introductory proclamation of what state the nation was in and instead launched into his plans for his last year in office, and his hope that Republicans and Democrats could work together.
He sprinkled serious remarks with doses of humor.
The two-term leader, echoing the word that carried two campaigns, reiterated the need for "change."
"We live in a time of extraordinary change – change that's reshaping the way we live, the way we work, our planet and our place in the world, he said. "It's change that promises amazing medical breakthroughs, but also economic disruptions that strain working families.
"It's change that can broaden opportunity, or widen inequality," he said. "And whether we like it or not, the pace of this change will only accelerate."
He lauded his usual list of accomplishments : Obamacare, increased automotive jobs, diminishing unemployment, a stimulated economy and a reduced deficit.
"I'm guessing we won't agree on health care anytime soon," he said, jokingly.
Even Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, sitting behind the president for the first time at a State of the Union speech, seemed amused.
Here’s Paul Ryan trying reeeeally hard not to laugh at one of Obama’s jokes pic.twitter.com/gqekuYJ1BF— GQ Magazine (@GQMagazine) January 13, 2016
He noted the need for increased stability in employment, saying that only people who will have the same jobs for 30 years with full benefits were "sitting in this chamber."
He asked for bipartisan help in securing free, two-year community college educations and to "recruit support great teachers for our kids." He also called for better math and computer classes and cited the economic need to foster small businesses and technology innovations.
Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, and Obama's opponent in 2008, also chimed in.
But he turned tough on the issue of security, and America's place as a world leader, saying the U.S. military was the greatest on the planet. It gained him some of the biggest applause of the night.
"We spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined. Our troops are the finest fighting force in the history of the world," Obama said. "No nation dares to attack us or our allies because they know that’s the path to ruin."
His Republican opponents shot back on Twitter.
Safer? ISIS on the rise. North Korea testing nukes. Syria in chaos. Taliban on march. This president is living in a different world. #SOTU
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) January 13, 2016
There were 23 invited guests to view the speech with First Lady Michelle Obama. A 24th seat, next to her, was left empty to symbolize the victims of gun violence in America.
Also among the ticketed guests was also Kim Davis, the embattled county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses in Kentucky. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) offered her the ticket.
"Kim Davis used our ticket. Our staff heard from the Family Research Council that Ms. Davis and her family hoped to attend the State of the Union address and so we offered a ticket," he said.
The president did not mention the sailors Tuesday, but that didn't stop pundits and opponents from blasting him over the situation.
Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson took to Twitter to criticize Obama for giving his speech American sailors were being held in Iran. "When President Obama takes the stage tonight, there will still be 10 United States military members being held captive by Iran," Carson tweeted.
Tuesday morning, in an appearance on NBC's "Today" show, Obama took a swipe at GOP front-runner Donald Trump when asked if he could envision the bombastic billionaire giving a State of the Union speech.
"Well, I can imagine it - in a 'Saturday Night' skit," the president shot back