Why I didn't listen to The Speech.
1. I'm petty. I cannot stand the man's voice. That nasal, whiny, accusative tone. He's far too defensively smug, while at the same time he's unable to enunciate things properly or seemingly to think on the fly. One of these traits ought to pre-empt the other. He has given fewer press conferences than any president in history, either because he doesn't want to have to answer for his policies or because he cannot think on his feet. Or both. Even if I were convinced he had something to say, I can't bear to hear him say it.
2. I'm cynical. My belief that we could learn any meaningful thing from a big political speech, along with my belief in the subtly perverted Tooth Fairy, flew the hell out the window about 100 years ago. There's too much opportunity for spin and neither party can be trusted to give simple information for us to evaluate. It's like getting progress reports on the war from the military itself: history shows that this is just not a good source of raw information, as there is too much at stake for too many people not to "manage" the information somehow. It seems we can only learn about a policy from news analysis--which cannot shake the criticism of partisanship, especially in this time when something is automatically liberal if it's not slanted far to the right--or from the perspective of a number of years passed. Political speeches are like horoscopes or like biblical phrases: they so often speak in broad generalities or with strategic vagueness such that one is left only with impressions--I like the guy or I don't; he seems trustworthy or he doesn't. And I get a consistently bad vibe from him.
3. I'm lazy. The intellectual gestalt involved in trying to formulate in one's mind a meaningful sense of governmental policy from the straw man propped up for us in these big speeches just takes too damn much work. It seems easier to read the analysis after the fact of people who are immersed in these issues and figure out how THEIR arguments strike one. Let someone else do the work.
So I can't say anything about the content of the speech, or about how his suit looked on him, or about how the audience helped or hampered the speech, or anything else.
But I CAN be pissed off about one of the quotes I read:
"In a system of two parties, two chambers, and two elected branches, there will always be differences and debate. But even tough debates can be conducted in a civil tone, and our differences cannot be allowed to harden into anger. To confront the great issues before us, we must act in a spirit of good will and respect for one another -- and I will do my part."
I cannot abide talk of a more civil tone from this administration! It's not that it's not a good sentiment, or good advice, but it's disingenuous coming from The Clown Prince of Partisan Politics. We have never had a more divisive group in power, a group characterized by Karl Dirty-All-Over Rove and Dick "Permanent Sneer" Cheney, and to now hear them talk about lowering the rhetoric is intolerable! If you're Jimmy Carter you can say that: W cannot. No.