The State Of The Union


It’s not that the man can’t speak. He can. Sometimes there are even brief flashes of inspiration. But how was it that Rossini characterized Wagner’s operas? “Great moments and terrible quarter hours”? That applied tonight.

I did not watch the official Republican response. The Killjoy Party has long since made all its points. And made them. And made them. The view during the speech of Eric Cantor’s pasty pale face said all that needed to be said: it was a facial equivalent of “whatever he’s for, we’re against… we’re going to stop him, and we don’t care if America goes down the tubes in the process.”

At least no freshman GOP House member shouted out “You lie!” this time. As unfashionable as it is, decorum on formal occasions is worth something.

Obama sounded like the moderate Republican he is in real life. I kept expecting him to say “I’m not really a Democrat, but I play one on TV.” He made one brief reference to “saving” Social Security and Medicare, a reference that left no doubt that he was going to destroy the village in order to save it.

Enough. I wasted an hour and a half on a non-event; I will not waste more of your time.

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  • MandT  On Wednesday January 25, 2012 at 2:37 am

    ‘Rossini characterized Wagner’s operas “Great moments and terrible quarter hours. Love that characterization, remembering eyes rolling when I once said the Wagner was reality TV for German mythology.

  • upyernoz  On Wednesday January 25, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    all state of the union speeches are awful. the only thing worse is the opposition party’s response.

    • Steve  On Wednesday January 25, 2012 at 2:06 pm

      ‘noz, the frustrating thing about Obama is that when he wants to persuade, he can do so; he has all the requisite oratorical skills. These days he sounds like he’s phoning it in.

      When I voted for him in 2008, I said a silent prayer (all my prayers are silent, and their destination is one or another fictional deity) that Obama would turn out to be another FDR, who was in his day more or less what we need today. No such luck. It’s not that FDR never deceived the public, and certainly not that he never did a mistaken thing (indeed, his motto seems to have been “try it and see if it works”), but that his humanity, his good will, was beyond question, and applied to people of all social classes. (Schlesinger says that he had no use for the pretensions of “mere millionaires.”)

      Obama is not an FDR by any stretch of the imagination. And as unjust of me as it may be, I can’t help reacting to Obama with head-shaking disappointment.

      • upyernoz  On Wednesday January 25, 2012 at 3:47 pm

        while the country probably needs another FDR right now, i don’t think we’re going to get one anytime soon.

        and yes, obama is a great orator. but my intense hatred for the SOTU speech no matter who delivers it, has prevented me from ever watching one of his. i think the last one i watched was in 2002.

        it’s really much better to just skip them. they always have a laundry list of stuff the president want to do, but you can get that list just fine from the news the next morning and most of that stuff will never happen anyway. plus there’s all that needless pomp, the ridiculous ritual of having one party clap while the other just sits there, and the annoying gimmick of peppering the audience with “regular folks” so the president can point to them as contrived examples throughout his speech.

        • Steve  On Wednesday January 25, 2012 at 9:58 pm

          ‘noz, after reading The Coming of the New Deal by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., I’ve concluded that FDR, with all his virtues (and flaws), was the quintessential American president, and whether we need someone like him or not, we “shall not look upon his like again.” The times then were as dire as the times now, and for some of the same reasons; one would think we should have learned something from the first time around. But evidently we did not. The wealthy still think they can create a 1984-like world with all aspects under their control and no material advantages to the rest of us. The disappointing difference is the leadership: Obama is no FDR (Obama thinks he knows more than he does), and there is no consortium of young, bright people around Obama like the New Dealers that FDR dealt with. So we as a nation must muddle through… or not, and at the moment, “not” seems more probable to me.

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