Courtesy of Google.
The first time I watched a session of the UK parliament on television, I marveled at how physically fit they all were in the House of Commons, bobbing up and down like the pegs in that children's game: smash one and another pops up.
Audiences of the SOTU don't pop up and down that often. They
stand for longer times. But there wasn't that much standing at this year's SOTU.
And I heard a few BOO's also, one the last sound before the president began his
Then, up above the prez for some reason, the VP and Speaker
of the House sit looking down on him--God and the devil? So it seemed this
evening as Biden got full camera while only the far right of Boehner's visage
was apparent, a slice. No symmetry there or in Congress. A microcosm perhaps. I
studied camera foci as much as I listened to Obama's plea for four more years
or, as the ABC commentators said, his response to three months of Republican
I heard Diane Sawyer's count of nine months and three days
until Election Day and I couldn't help but think of another greater speech that
began with "Four score and seven years." Indeed Obama did hearken back to at
least one distinguished Republican, Abe Lincoln. Oh, come on. Lincoln's statue
would shatter at that parallel. Speak softly, Bar.
Other pre-SOTU thoughts from Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos:
two-thirds of the country don't believe that things in this country are getting
better. Congress is as divided as we've ever seen it. But how Gabrielle
Giffords has twice brought together Congress as a unit, as if it were a unit,
as the Senate marched into the chamber in a single clump tonight. Can't
something less drastic than fatal gunfire create nonpartisanship, patriotism?
Boehmer hadn't spoken to Obama in a month, we were further
told; the prez has a score of 54 percent favorability, an achievement that has
crept up slowly from the doldrums of--I'm not sure how low a score, but low. And
how many incumbents have regained their seats after this pattern? I don't know,
but with one open-marriage nut running against a tax evader and outsourcer,
stranger things have happened than the incumbent kept. Surely we've chosen the
lesser of two evils before. Last time we got whom we wanted, but the two previous
times the "worst man won." So "lesser of two evils" is the trope of our times,
I don't mean to diminish the speech itself, which was filled
with effective anaphorae like "Send me a bill for _____ and I'll sign it." And lots
of occurrences of "fair" and "share" and even an echo of a time long gone,
something akin to "Yes, we can." That means it's campaign time again.
The camera crew denied us the real show by hiding all but an
expressionless slice of Boehner's face. Those shots of Cheney sitting next to
Nancy Pelosi were priceless from 2006 and 2007.
The SOTU described, despite those 66.6% of little faith, how
rosy things really are and how the best is yet to come:
For the first time in nine years the U.S. is out of Iraq,
completely out. (Think not of how many died, but how many survived);
The twenty-year threat of bin Laden is now over (thirty
years ago we were friends, though);
Some troops have returned from Afghanistan, more will return
next summer, and think how much money we will be saving; that poor war-shredded
country will no longer be a haven for our enemies (forget how much we spent--it
wasn't in the budget anyway);
Our military have
exceeded all of our expectations. If we follow their example, we'll learn a lot
(no wise cracks, but you know what I'm thinking--all that weaponry that didn't
go unused). Tuck this in; the theme returns).
Here's what we can do: lead the world again in education,
high-paying jobs, an economy built to last, rewards for hard work. We can do this. (not "yes, we can!!")
Consider the twentieth century, a great time when we
triumphed over the Great Depression and Fascism. Thence was born the American
dream: house, kids, two-car garage, picket fence, mortgage, car loan (desperate