For Michigan residents, the back-to-back timing of the State of the State and State of the Union addresses was a study in style over substance and politicking over governing.

Gov. Rick Snyder and President Barack Obama couldn't be more different, either in their delivery or in their approach to their jobs.

Gov. Snyder, up first Tuesday night, offered a CEO-style speech, modestly ticking off what he accomplished last year and then setting a realistic agenda for this year. It was a report to shareholders that didn't oversell or over promise.

Nor did the governor go for laugh lines at his opponents' expense, or use his 50 minutes to set up Republicans for the next election.

An hour later, President Obama stood before Congress as his typical taunting self. He faced the Republicans who, running against his policies, won back the Senate and strengthened their hold on the House. And threw in their faces a steaming bucket of those same discredited policies. He ridiculed, postured and spent his hour continuing his six year-long campaign.

There was no bow to bipartisanship, and certainly no acknowledgment that the country rejected his agenda in November. In contrast to the humility shown by Snyder, who actually has something to boast about, the president was all braggadocio, taking full credit for an economic recovery that has been the weakest in modern history.

Snyder placed before the Legislature a series of well-vetted and reasonable proposals that have a solid chance of passing with Democratic votes.

His ideas are all about making government more effective and less expensive for taxpayers. If he succeeds, the state bureaucracy will be smaller, while delivering better services. And he promised to quickly erase the mid-year budget deficit that suddenly appeared last week.

Obama hurled at Congress half-baked plans to raise taxes and make government even more bloated. He asked for hugely expensive new entitlement programs and concocted more wealth transfer schemes.

None of what Obama laid out has a chance of getting through Congress. He knows it. But that wasn't the point.

This was performance art. Obama's objective is not to solve America's pressing problems, but to maneuver Republicans into favoring the rich over the poor, and thus aiding Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential bid.

He never mentioned the debt or deficit, which still loom as major threats to America's future stability.

And he brushed off in a few perfunctory passages the threats from beyond our borders; that would have killed the celebratory mood Obama wanted to set in this scene.

The only hint of partisanship in Snyder's speech came at the very end, when he wondered aloud why Washington can't work more like Lansing.

The answer was clear an hour later. Michigan is run by a responsible leader who is serious about fixing problems and resolving conflicts. The country is run by a frivolous president who has never transitioned from campaigning to governing.


Follow Nolan Finley at, on Twitter at nolanfinleydn, on Facebook at nolanfinleydetnews and watch him at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays on "MiWeek" on Detroit Public TV, Channel 56.

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