State of the Union Distress

So, thumbs-up or down on the president’s SOTU address?

As these things go, I actually thought it was OK. If we use George Will’s gauge (“Every president, regardless of party, tries to stroke every erogenous zone in the electorate”), then I think was a success.

And I liked the symbolism of having members of the two parties sit together (see image top right). It made for less hooting and hollering and was far more collegial than any SOTU I can recall. But perhaps for that reason, Obama seemed to lack passion.

Be that as it may, some observers, such as Ben Stein, were absolutely scathing in their assessment of the speech:

… in its lack of eloquence, its complete absence of high points, its elementary school pedagogy, its complete absence of any interesting or memorable phrases, it was possibly the lamest SOTU speech I have ever heard.

But really Ben, they’re all pretty lame. From Thomas Jefferson through Woodrow Wilson, presidents fulfilled their obligation to opine on the SOTU only by delivering a written essay to Congress. I’d like to keep it that way, but I guess I’m one of the few who would rather watch a basketball game than listen to a president rolling out a laundry list of gauzy goals, most of which are unattainable anyway.
Nor do I share E.J. Dionne’s view that this was a gem of a speech, a stem-winder that will be remembered by generations to come. But I did like Obama’s efforts to pull himself back to the center, which is where most of the votes are.
To wit, his remarks on education:

Let’s also remember that after parents, the biggest impact on a child’s success comes from the man or woman at the front of the classroom. In South Korea, teachers are known as “nation builders.” Here in America, it’s time we treated the people who educate our children with the same level of respect. We want to reward good teachers and stop making excuses for bad ones.

My position exactly. Except how do you do that? End teacher tenure? Institute more rigorous evaluation? Face down the unions? He never said, which is why I can’t stand these kinds of speeches. More later.

P.S. My Facebook friend Denise Parris first used the clever phrase in the above headline.

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2 Responses to State of the Union Distress

  1. John Pollard says:

    Terry, I have to confess, I didn't watch it. Never even crossed my mind to try to watch it…JP

  2. Terry Cowgill says:

    Can't say as I blame you, JP. Typically, very little comes from these speeches. I think I just wanted to see if the Dems and Repubs would hold hands and sing.

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