The Corner

The Silent SOTU

As it happens, I watched the end of the State of the Union Address (it really does need another name at this point, since it effectively has nothing to do with the actual state of the union) from the vantage point of an exercise bike at a gym largely patronized by emigres from Armenia and their American-born kids. On two screens, President Obama, swivel-necked, flap-jawed and jug-eared, commanded almost nobody’s attention, while the basketball game on the other screens drew a host of viewers on bikes and treadmills. And this, I reflected, was exactly as it should be. The people all around me were the folks who run the restaurants, liquor stores, auto-repair shops, and other business that keep Glendale, Calif., humming; they’ve seen this movie before, and it’s what they saw and lived — and fled — as the Soviet Union was cracking up. They’re too busy making a living to have time for the politics of redistribution.

As I followed along via the closed captions, it was immediately apparent that Obama had a) nothing to say and b) was saying it very badly. Mercifully spared his characteristic drone, the predictable cadences and the sine-wave rise and fall of his voice, all a viewer was left with were the president’s policy prescriptions, often hilariously rendered into fractured English in the caption crawl, and his robotic body language; he appeared more akin to a hologram than a human being. And this, I think, is the source of Obama’s current polling tribulations — he simply does not relate to his fellow creatures, and cannot speak to them convincingly, especially to those not predisposed to his dog-in-the-manger ideology. Fortunately for him, in the elections of 2008 and 2012 he was up against candidates even less personally appealing than he is, and he had the added advantage of a protective media entranced by his partly bogus “compelling personal narrative” and his usefulness as the symbolic face of trickle-down Progressivism. 

Finally, there is this: At least half the country simply does not believe the man has the best interests of the union at heart. Indeed, everything he has said and done in his public career tells us otherwise. Obama’s is a presidency of resentment and payback — ironically, made possible by the very generosity of spirit and good will of those whom he now wishes to punish. Call it the Bowfinger presidency: Gotcha, suckers. Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy really are both geniuses.

Michael Walsh — Mr. Walsh is the author of the novels Hostile Intent and Early Warning and, writing as frequent NRO contributor David Kahane, Rules for Radical Conservatives.


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