A President Speaks, America Tunes Out

Obama-zzz

STATE OF THE UNION

A Grand Tradition…  But only if people are listening

Peggy Noonan  writes:  So the president’s State of the Union address is Tuesday night, and it’s always such a promising moment, a chance to wake everyone up and say “This I believe” and “Here we stand.” The networks are focused and alert, waiting to be filled with a president’s excellence and depth. It’s a chance for the American president to say whatever the storm, however high the seas, the union stands “rock-bottomed and copper-sheathed, one and indivisible.” That’s how Stephen Vincent Benet had Daniel Webster put it, in a play.

“Because when I imagine Barack Obama’s State of the Union, I see a handsome, dignified man standing at the podium and behind him Joe Biden, sleeping. And next to him John Boehner, snoring. And arrayed before the president the members, napping…”

In a State of the Union a president tries to put his stamp on things. Here we are, here’s where we’re going, all roads lead forward. We can face whatever test, meet whatever challenge, united in the desire that we be the greatest nation in the history of man . . .

What great moments this tradition has given us. JFK’s father thought his son’s first State of the Union was better than his Inaugural Address. It had a warmth. “Mr. Speaker . . . it is a pleasure to return from whence I came. You are among my oldest friends in Washington—and this House is my oldest home.” Friends, home—another era. LBJ taking the reins in 1964: “Let this session of Congress be known as the session which did more for civil rights than the last hundred sessions combined.” And you know, that’s what it became. Nixon enjoyed dilating on history, and was interesting when he did.

Reagan dazzled, though he told his diary he never got used to it: “I’ve made a mil. speeches in every kind of place to every kind of audience. Somehow there’s a thing about entering that chamber—goose bumps & a quiver.” There was his speech after he’d recovered from being shot—brio and gallantry. And of course Lenny Skutnik. Just before Reagan’s 1982 speech Mr. Skutnik, a government worker, saw Air Florida Flight 90 go into the Potomac. As others watched from the banks of the frozen river, Mr. Skutnik threw off his coat, dived in and swam like a golden retriever to save passengers. The night of the speech he was up there in the gallery next to the first lady, and when Reagan pointed him out the chamber exploded. This nice, quiet man who’d gone uncelebrated all his professional life, and then one day circumstances came together and he showed that beneath the bureaucrat’s clothing was the beating heart of a hero.

Well. History still beckons, waiting to be made. The great unstated question of today: Can America come back, reclaim her old spirit, confidence and joy, can we make things again, build them, grow, create, push out into the new?

And here I think: Oh dear.

Because when I imagine Barack Obama’s State of the Union, I see a handsome, dignified man standing at the podium and behind him Joe Biden, sleeping. And next to him John Boehner, snoring. And arrayed before the president the members, napping…

Read the rest…

The Sleepiness of a Hollow Legend – WSJ.com


2 Comments on “A President Speaks, America Tunes Out”

  1. Richard M Nixon (Deceased) says:

    Reblogged this on Dead Citizen's Rights Society.

  2. […] Pundit from another Planet STATE OF THE UNION A Grand Tradition… But only if people are listening Peggy Noonan writes: […]


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