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The Missing Element from the State of the Union

This speaks to a division in our politics, a separation of policy from the profound. President Obama sounded like a technocratic Ronald Reagan – optimistic that we can out-compete emerging nations.

This last week we have witnessed what may be the story of the year or even the decade. The dramatic scenes across North Africa and especially Egypt have captured the world’s attention and reminded us of the vast scale of politics. Might this be the dawning of a new moment in the Muslim world, or will the protests give way to repression or extremism?

Domestically these events have humbled all but the most partisan or idealistic. Different members of the Obama administration have issued their cautious statements, appropriately circumspect before what may be a historic moment.

Egypt has dwarfed all other events, including the administration’s post-State of the Union media blitz. The State of the Union now looks rather paltry, but then so does most of our politics – when they are not sounding overwrought.

Perhaps this is as it should be in the day-to-day, but the State of the Union is not just any other day. It is one of those high holy days in politics, a national ritual that reminds us that politics deals with the profound.

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