Well, like you, maybe, I watched the State of the Union address, and also the Republican response. As I was watching, I jotted notes, which I share with you now. As usual with these things — major addresses, presidential debates — I have read no commentary before launching my own. What others think, I don’t know. I’ll get to them sometime later.
1) I didn’t think I’d see Bill Daley again, in public life. Last time I saw him, it was in a men’s room at Davos. (There’s a weird statement — but true.)
2) Michelle Obama — svelte, glam, smokin’. (I’m still in favor of the ex-Alaska governor who serves s’mores.)
3) On ABC, George Will had a look on his face that said, “I can’t believe I’m sitting here with these bozos.” It was almost a look of contempt . . .
4) Obama seems taller than everybody else, as I guess a president should be.
5) Why won’t Mitch McConnell run for president? As a friend of mine was saying the other night, what has happened to people’s ambition? We used to complain of too much ambition . . .
6) It just kills me that Barbara Boxer is still in the Senate — that Carly didn’t knock her off. Boxer’ll be there as long as Strom . . . She’ll bury us all . . . Thanks, California.
7) Elena Kagan greeted Obama with a look of happy gratitude. As well she might have . . .
8) Will this be a teary night for John Boehner?
9) Amazing, how Joe Biden can flash those choppers . . .
#more#10) The ABC people speak of Obama in almost reverent tones. They did not speak about George W. Bush in those tones. Usually, their voices and mouths were tight. Diane Sawyer: It’s almost as if she’s making love to Obama with her voice.
11) I’m awfully glad Boehner’s sitting in that chair — the speaker’s chair.
12) He’s wearing a pink tie. Does this go with a willingness to show emotion, a softer side of Republicanism? (Incidentally, I know you’ll pardon my switch of tenses.)
13) I like the way Obama asks everyone to take a seat.
14) I love the look that Boehner gives, when people begin to stand for him. A look that says, “No, no, please don’t — come on . . .”
15) I wish Obama would say “different from,” instead of “different than.” But that’s a lost cause . . .
16) Crackerjack speaker, he is. No wonder he got elected, with a record thin enough to be Kleenex.
17) So now he’s talking about jobs and entrepreneurship and growth and whatnot? Now? After Swedenizing the country for two years? (But that’s unfair to Sweden, which has been de-Swedenizing.)
18) It’s nice to see, at last, an American flag not intertwined with the PRC flag . . .
19) Obama is praising the stock market? The “roaring” stock market? I thought Wall Street was evil . . .
20) Obama is praising tax cuts? Who does he think he is, the Wall Street Journal editorial page? National Review?
21) Says Obama, “The steps we’ve taken over the last two years may have broken the back of this recession . . .” Uh-huh. Like the “stimulus” package. Like the nationalization of health care. Right, Barack.
Will the American people believe it, come reelection time?
22) I hate this us-against-the-world stuff. Like we’re in some kind of economic Olympics with other countries. It’s not true. Prosperity, economic vitality, is a shared blessing; it is not zero-sum. We rejoice in others’ success, and we continue to succeed our own bad selves. Small, small, what Obama is saying. I have a feeling he does not comprehend abundance.
America is bigger than envying, or worrying about, other countries. I’m reminded tonight of the 1988 Democratic primaries — when Gephardt and Dukakis and those guys kept talking about the rising sun (Japan), whose heat would melt us all. Cripe.
23) In many sentences, Obama is giving a Republican address. Reaganesque, Kempesque — Chamber of Commerce-y.
24) Obama is hailing our free-enterprise system? Has he recently joined Rotary? What will his friends in academia say? Is he going to maintain this pose through the ’12 election? If so, we — we Republicans — may be done for . . .
25) I like that he talks crisply, and at a good pace — not too slow. Slowness kills many a speech.
26) He keeps talking about individual Americans and their businesses, and their experiences — the brothers in Michigan who have that roofing company and so on. Just like Reagan.
I think 44 learned a lot from 40 . . .
27) The Boehner tan is just a little . . . I don’t know . . . striking . . .
28) Biden spends most of the speech with a weird expression on his face — kind of a downturned smile. His mouth is downturned, as if frowning — and yet he is essentially smiling. Do you know what I mean? Paradoxical, strange . . .
29) Whereas most of us would pronounce the plural of “car” “carz,” Obama says “carss.”
I wonder how he would pronounce “Mars.”
30) I’m reminded of what Harry Reid, the august Majority Leader of the United States Senate, called Kirsten Gillibrand: “the hottest member.” I’ll buy it.
31) I wish the president of the United States would stop telling us what we need to tell our kids. He can parent his own damn kids.
32) So we must begin to treat teachers with respect, must we? Teachers were once accorded the highest degree of respect. That was before they, many of them, started acting like narrow unionists.
33) “Undocumented workers” is a phrase unworthy of a thinker or straight-talker.
34) This whining about other countries, and their success, is just bizarre — from a president of the United States. We should welcome and hail others’ successes. They will not hurt our own. It is all complementary (as a rule).
35) Sometimes, Obama is saying, to America at large, “You slobs just aren’t performing well enough . . .”
36) I find it depressing to see Harry Reid still in the Senate. Even if he might have been perspicacious about Gillibrand.
37) High-speed rail? Of all the Euro-weenie proposals . . .
What’s he going to do next, talk about the quality of baguettes?
38) “Without the patdown” — a lovely line.
39) “Now, I’ve heard rumors that a few of you have some concerns about the new health-care law” — utterly charming. I don’t believe I have ever seen President Obama genuinely charming.
40) “What I’m not willing to do is go back to the days when insurance companies could deny someone coverage because of a pre-existing condition.” Excuse me, but if someone is covered for a pre-existing condition — how is that insurance? What does “insurance” mean?
41) Am I hallucinating, or is Barack Obama lecturing a Congress that is half Republican — practically half Tea Party — about spending?
No, no, no: We lecture you about spending, Mr. President.
42) When Obama talks about soaking the rich — the virtue of it — ABC’s cameras turn to Bernie Sanders, the socialist senator from Vermont. I like that.
43) Obama is mocking the absurdities of government? (E.g., the bureaucracy’s approach to salmon.) Excuse me, but is he running for the Republican presidential nomination? Is this some sort of Reagan centennial nod?
44) He is talking about reinventing government — Gore might be a little resentful . . .
45) “And because the American people deserve to know that special interests aren’t larding up legislation with pet projects, both parties in Congress should know this: If a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it.” Allow me to ask again: Is Obama now running for the Republican nomination?
This is positively weird . . .
46) “. . . America’s standing has been restored.” What a self-flattering, ignorant, and disgusting line.
47) So, there are the Levin brothers, sitting together. They’ve been in Congress since . . . what, 1908? Still, their mother must be proud. (Sometimes we have citizen politicians. Sometimes we have politician citizens.)
48) “. . . on the Korean peninsula, we stand with our ally South Korea, and insist that North Korea keep its commitment to abandon nuclear weapons.” That’s tellin’ ’em, Barack! We insist.
49) “This March, I will travel to Brazil, Chile, and El Salvador to forge new alliances for progress in the Americas.” Could someone tell this self-flattering so-and-so, who thinks the world began with his presidency, that we have had alliances with those countries for many years? I saw José Napoleón Duarte — does Obama even know who he was? — kiss the American flag, on the White House lawn.
50) “Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love . . .”
More and more, people are saying “forbidden from,” instead of “forbidden to.” (Traditionally, it’s “forbidden to” and “prohibited from.”) Also, that “they,” instead of “he,” stinks.
51) “Of course, some countries don’t have this problem. If the central government wants a railroad, they get a railroad — no matter how many homes are bulldozed. If they don’t want a bad story in the newspaper, it doesn’t get written.” Marvelous, marvelous. Forget the Republican presidential nomination: Is Obama trying to work at National Review?
52) This speech is unbelievably rah-rah-America. If a Republican gave it, the Left would call it jingoistic, ethnocentric, chauvinistic, flag-waving, maybe McCarthyite. But Obama can get away with it.
For ’12, we may be doomed, y’all.
53) I wonder if, privately, it sort of sickens Obama to give a speech like this. Does he find it a necessary evil, to boost his ratings and win reelection? Or does he sort of . . . not mind it, even like it?
54) From here on out — from now until Election Day — it’ll be super-patriotism all the way. Obama will make Curtis LeMay look like a pinko. We wondered whether Obama was as flexible as Clinton. I think Obama may prove silly putty itself.
55) The Republican response? I’ll begin with a language note — a pronunciation note: Paul Ryan says “Wisconsin” like a Wisconsinite, naturally enough. How do they say it? “Wi-scon-sin.” The rest of us say “Wis-con-sin.” There’s a difference, believe me. (I’ve been over this in Impromptus. Readers and I had a fun discussion of the matter a couple of years ago.)
56) It’s odd to look pleasant and smiley when you’re talking about economic calamity.
57) “All of this new government spending was sold as ‘investment’” — an excellent line.
58) Our guy is very strong on facing up to the crisis — “manning up,” Sharron Angle might say. (Remember her? People forget so quickly . . .)
59) “We believe government’s role is both vital and limited” — excellent.
60) This would be a much more effective speech in response to a socialist speech — which Obama did not give.
61) It’s as though someone has told Ryan to smile and look pleasant, come what may. How unfortunate. If you’re talking about dire things, it’s okay to look — you know: a little dire. Above all, it’s okay to look natural.
62) I always feel a little sheepish making this type of criticism of people who have actually gone out and gotten elected. And Ryan: He has risen quite high in our politics (and I hope he rises higher).
63) “Under [the right] approach, the spirit of initiative — not political clout — determines who succeeds” — perfect.
64) Ryan takes what we call, in singing, nose breaths.
65) He has given a rah-rah-America speech — but so has Obama. Tonight had aspects of a Republican primary, I swear.
Oh, I have more to say, a lot more. But 65’s enough, more than. Thanks and see you.