Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Wunelle's Patented News Analysis

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.


Kate said...

Yes, I had a problem with that line also. The Karl Rove machine is about as nasty and divisive as it gets.

wunelle said...

I applaud you for sticking it out and giving us a first-hand account. It's a shame--I used to enjoy a good speech. (Well, I'm sure I still do...)

Lizzie said...

You forgot to mention the constant applause. I can't stand how there must be applause every time "freedom" or "stregnth" or "the forces of good over evil" or some other such phrase is mentioned (and of course it's mentioned every 2 minutes).

As I was watching it last night, I was thinking how great it would be if just for once a president would give an honest SOTU. The country knows the state of the union is pretty dismal right now. Wouldn't it have been great if he just came out and said it - said he had made mistakes? I know it will never happen, but a girl can dream.

wunelle said...

Every time I hear these jingoistic phrases I think of that great Goering quote from the Nuremburg trials:

"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along... whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."

We were attacked, of course. And some response was inevitable and proper. But the administration has used the resulting terror and sense of unease as a prybar for a lot of shit, and in a way that makes this Goering quote quite discomfiting for me.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you 100% - He's annoying to listen to, I can't imagine that he'll have anything of substance to say, and it is so much easier to get the recap that has been distilled down to the bare minimum without the gratuitous applause, crowd shots and filler.

Mandy said...

Oh, I so heartily agree with you - and I was glad to be fast asleep when the production went on the air - I think it was 3 am here or something. But the one thing you forgot, when describing with great accuracy the things about his voice that also make *my* skin crawl, is his complete inability to say the word "nuclear."



Better now.

wunelle said...

Oh, god, yeah. "Nukyuler." Ohmygodohmygodohmygod (said over and over while banging one's head against the wall)! And he got a second term!

This is just living proof that he has no honest people around him, people who can say "this makes you sound like you're just not very smart; we should employ a speech therapist to fix this." After reading Michael O'Brien's recent bio of JFK, it's clear that this is exactly what he would have done: there was such a refreshing openness insisted upon with the diverse inner circle of Kennedy's White House. Mistakes were made, but they were acknowledged and tackled quite openly.

Different time.

Joshua said...

Ten foot pole--------->
Touch = No

wunelle said...

I'll be recovered here at some point and we can all go about our business!