The State of the State of the Union is: BOR-RING!
Everyone at NBC agreed after the speech that it was by far the most "somber" and "subdued" of the President's State of the Union addresses. They speculated that this was due to the newly divided nature of the government and also to the mindblowingly horrific disaster that is the war in Iraq.
This really interfered with my plan for a recap post similar to last year's. It is difficult to poke fun at somber and subdued.
But I am soldiering on. This year, rather than a recap, I present these random and assorted observations:
What a welcome change it was to see a woman in the Speaker's chair! The President even pointed out what a momentous occasion it was, which I thought was classy of him. Then as the speech wore on, I thought that Nancy Pelosi was incredibly blinky until I realized that it only appeared so because she was sitting next to Dick Cheney. He never blinks. Seriously, watch him sometime. It's spooky.
The new Speaker hopped up quite often to applaud, right up until the President charged the Senate with filling openings on the federal bench by giving every one of his nominees an up or down vote. Then she remained seated and her face registered a definite "uh huh - riiiiiight". She (unlike a certain Senator from New York) stopped short of actually sneering.
You can refer to last year's post for the specifics of the education section of the speech. Seriously, it was exactly the same thing.
Quite honestly, the extent to which I can stand to listen to the President didn't really allow me to gather all of the particulars on his health care proposal. But it seemed like he wanted to tax employers who provide health insurance in order to provide a tax break to people who buy their own health insurance. Doesn't this seem likely to end up with all of us having to buy our own health insurance once employers stop buying it for us in order to avoid paying more taxes? Maybe I'm missing something here. Such as the logic.
It was convenient how Senators Clinton and Obama were seated one behind the other so they could get them into one shot for all of the important reactions. Then we'd see Senator McCain, who is looking scarily pasty these days. Almost like he has been hanging with Cheney in the undisclosed location, where for obvious reasons, no sunlight is permitted in. Or crosses or garlic.
Did you see the shot of Condoleeza Rice giving the camera a look of what can only be described as pure unadulterated hate? Yikes. Then again, maybe it wasn't the camera she was looking at. Perhaps that gaze was directed just over the President's left shoulder. Look out, Madam Speaker. I have a feeling that it's ON.
And did you hear that gigantic whoosh around 8:30? That would be the entire world sucking in its collective breath upon the President's mention of Iran. But he also mentioned balancing the budget without raising taxes, so clearly he couldn't possibly want to expand our military efforts. Right?
The "giddy as a schoolgirl" award goes to Senator Grassley of Iowa upon the President's commitment to increase usage of ethanol. Gimme a C, gimme an O, gimme an R, gimme an N! What does that spell? RE-ELECTION!
Then we got to the honored guests in the gallery. The President introduced Dikembe Mutombo, followed by the founder of Baby Einstein. Which was decent of him, particularly since she had clearly missed the entirety of the speech, seated as she was behind Dikembe Mutombo.
The speech was followed as always by the opposite party's response. For the second year in a row, it was given by a Virginia politician. (Virginia is for
lovers Democratic responders!) This year, brand new Senator Jim Webb. He stressed his family's military service, including that of his son, currently serving in Iraq. Then he proceeded to say of the war in Iraq, in no uncertain terms, I TOLD YOU SO AND EVERYBODY ELSE ALSO TOLD YOU SO. It was a thing to behold.
In conclusion, the State of the Union (aside from Iowa) would appear to be: cranky. Or is it just me?