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Hardest Ticket in Town

The Ticket: President Obama's State of the Union Address, Tuesday, January 25, 2011 The Town:  Washington, D.C. How did I get there?  As a guest of UPS President of the Ohio Valley Region, Mr. Zachary Scott. To sum it up:  What an experience! I’ve been in and around Washington, D.C., for approximately ten years of my life but never had the experience of attending the State of the Union Address.  The anticipation was nothing like the reality.  After a reception and dinner, we were escorted to the Capitol.  The security was enhanced as you might expect, but that did not diminish the excitement of being in the gallery for the Address.  Especially since this was to be a break with tradition.  The members of both parties were to mingle on the floor and, instead of sitting with their political affiliates, they were to sit with a member of the opposite party.   It was interesting to watch Senator Lieberman sit with Senator McCain and Senator Kerry.  It was interesting to watch the Chiefs of the military branches file in very somberly.  The Supreme Court had six justices present.  They were emotionless throughout the speech.  I sat in the box next to the First Lady.  She was a mere four rows down and six seats over. 

It was very thrilling to be that close to Michelle Obama and watch her react to the words her husband spoke to the nation. The President noted the unusual seating arrangements and stated, "What comes of this moment will be determined not by whether we can sit together tonight, but whether we can work together tomorrow." The theme of the address was that Americans must, "Win the Future." The President compared the current need for innovation and budget reforms to the space race against the Soviet Union in the 1960s, calling this a "Sputnik moment"  He began the 62 minute speech by addressing issues relating to partisanship, the economy, education, infrastructure (roads/trains and technology), health care, the deficit, foreign policy and the military. He went on to talk about the various challenges and opportunities for our country. One could feel the excitement from certain members of the House, but one could also see some disinterest among other members of the Congress. 

The clapping was muted due to the intermingling of political faithful.   As the President got to the meat of the State of the Union and what we should expect for the future, I thought about how this State of the Union would be received.  The Washington Post reported that the "speech was long on policy and broad ideas {but}was also a calculated political argument, an effort to move the debates that framed the election to a different place." The exit from the Capitol after the State of the Union was a lot more speedy than getting into the balcony.  Subsequent to returning to the UPS townhouse, we had to wait for taxis which were, of course, in limited availability due to the security around the capitol.  With the snowstorm on the East Coast, my flight back to Indianapolis arrived many hours after I expected. However, I was none the worse for the wear and still aglow with the feeling that I was able to procure one of the hardest tickets in town and had the experience of a lifetime.

To learn more about Roderick Morgan and his practice, visit his profile.

  • Senior Partner

    Roderick H. Morgan, a partner at Bingham Greenebaum Doll, practices in the Firm's Diversified Business Solutions Team and is a member of the Corporate Services and Government Departments. He is a retired Army Judge Advocate General ...

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