Do you pay much attention to the State of the Union Address? I don't. It's largely a poorly written litany of platitudes and promises that will not only not be fufilled, but won't even be attempted. It is nothing like the typical "State of the Company" address that one often sees in the private sector in that it makes absolutely no attempt to be candid about what the state of the union actually is. It is a campaign speech followed by another campaign speech by the opposition. The particulars of whatever the President says will bear little resemblance to what happens in the year to follow.
This State of the Union seems to be even less consequential than most years. The President is chastened. He pursued a bold change agenda in the first two years of his term and achieved some of it. At least for now, the voters don't much like it. So he has retrenched. The collectivism seems to have been toned down and the difficult choices, although acknowledged, either elided or deferred. (How any American President can continue to duck entitlement reform and call himself responsible is beyond me, but this one continues to do it. Unfortunately, his predecessors showed him the way.)
The problem is that Paul Ryan was right in his response: "We still have time . . . but not much time." I think that the President knows that, but he also fears that his preferred nostrums won't fly. So he plays small ball and temporizes. Ryan, like it or not, has a plan. The President gave a speech.