I can remember the first State of the Union address I watched with my wife.

At that point, she was my fiancée, and we sat in front of a small television in the bedroom of her parents' home and watched as George W. Bush gave the inaugural address.

To make things more interesting, we decided to count the incidents of applause. I want to say by the end of the speech, the number was well into the 50s, but who could remember for sure.

As has typically been the custom, there were times when one side of the room stood up and clapped and times when both sides did the same.

It's usually predictable.

"America is great!" Both sides rise in unison.

"My opinion on this social issue is better than yours!" The President's side stands, the other sits with a collective grimace adorning their face.

It's fun, in a way, and can be a good way to learn where everybody stands (or doesn't stand) in case you weren't already acquainted.

But this past week, I found myself a little sickened during Barack Obama's sixth State of the Union speech.

As I've pointed out, it's expected that the whole room isn't necessarily going to be on board with everything the leader of the free world bellows. But there is usually common ground to be found.

But only one side of the room standing when Obama talked about wage equality among men and women? Even the women on the red side of the room remained seated.

Or how about their collective bums being glued to the chair when the President touted economic growth? Is that not a good thing, even if we can all agree there's still work to be done?

It's laughable, really.

Unfortunately it's also indicative of the level of disrespect shown by members of Congress to this President. You might remember in 2009 when one member of the House of Representatives from the other side of the aisle screamed at Obama in the middle of this speech, calling him a liar.

This past week, when Obama mentioned he has no more campaigns to run, half the room applauded. Obama then delivered the most memorable burn in State of the Union history as a retort. Stooping to the other side's level, perhaps, but a man can only take so much.

The relationship, though, between Congress and the President is reflective to me of the way society has become in general. People have always disagreed on certain issues, but as we teach our children, the ability to work together with those who might be different than you is key to being successful in life.

Yet, the most powerful people in our country never seem to have learned that lesson, which is disappointing.

It seems as though there is no compromise anymore. There can be no thoughtful dialogue on any issue because one side never respects the other - and I mean that about both sides, to be clear.

Adults are supposed to set the example for the future generation. Our country's lawmakers are setting a pretty cruddy example.

Hopefully we all can applaud that sentiment.

Contact Managing Editor Adam Parkhouse at aparkhouse@thenewsdispatch.com or 1-219-214-4170.

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