If President Barack Obama possessed the scalding irreverence of British comic Ricky Gervais, the president might start his State of the Union speech tonight with a wicked twist on that old first-day-of-law-school warning: Look to your left. Look to your right. In a couple of years, one and maybe two of the three of you might not be here.
Or Obama might pretend-grouse that his beloved Chicago Bears' loss to Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game didn't just cost him a coveted Sunday at JerryWorld in Arlington, it means he'll have to wear a cheesehead while courting Republican lawmakers.
But no. Few Americans inside Washington or out are laughing at the country's stubborn economic challenges. And this president is a pragmatist who lately sounds a lot like he's trying to find centrist solutions to what ails us.
So tonight's address, according to informed prognostications, will highlight the need for Democrats and Republicans to work together and the imperative of creating jobs while reducing the deficit.
They're welcome notions. Where have we heard them before?
"We face a deficit of trust -- deep and corrosive doubts about how Washington works that have been growing for years," Obama said almost a year ago during his first State of the Union.
The skepticism persists, partly because the political parties and interest groups seem addicted to the adrenaline of the pitched battle.
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