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Good speech, but

We are left wondering because, as the president made clear himself, the many things that need to be done are in the hands of a party that is inclined to give very little ground, and a party that covers ground best when, as the president himself stated, it is running for the hills.

Giving a speech such as this at a time such as this is not a task for the faint hearted. It doesn't help when the leader of your own party in the Senate seems on the verge of sleep, and the man you defeated in the presidential elections is most awake when he is seemingly sharing a joke at your expense.

Yes, such is politics. But beyond the presidential address there is the matter of Congress and what it is capable of. Given the last few months, the answer to that would appear to be not very much at all.

Not surprising then that voters are listless, jaundiced and indeed outright angry, as clearly demonstrated by the recent result in Massachusetts.

That voter frustration is being exacerbated by the fact that the choice at the polls is so limited. If one party makes a mess of things, people veer to the other party. If the other party also makes a mess, the voters veer back. It's not so much a tea party as a two-party tennis game with a repetitive, unsatisfying result.

In the absence of a viable third party, what we are left with is the president himself. It is within his power to pursue a course that draws on whatever bipartisanship he can dredge up while using his bully pulpit to do a little arm twisting, with members of his own party as well as the opposition.

We wish him luck because, as things stand, we should not be holding our breath for Congress to do much on a range of critical issues that grow even more pressing by the day.

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