OK everybody, I just finished watching the big speech. I'll try to reconstruct my thoughts just as I experienced them in the moment...
*** STATE OF THE UNION SPEECH 2007: "There's No 'U' in Victory" ***
WASHINGTON, D.C.: The scene could not be more dramatic... the stakes could not be higher ... the drama could not be more charged with importance ... it is America's annual "Night to Remember," it's time for the State of the Union speech!
The big room where they hold the speech is full of splendor: dark oak paneling ... brass fixtures, all polished to a shine ... flags (American?) ... carpeted walkways ... truly a majestic setting for this historic speech. (Where is this room, by the way? Is it in the White House? If so, they should use it for entertaining foreign dignitaries. It is truly MARVELOUS.)
What's more, the hall is filled with ... ALL THE MOST FAMOUS POLITICIANS. It seems everyone who is "anyone" in Washington, DC is here! Congressmen, Senators, even maybe five(?) Supreme Chief Justices ... everyone has "represented" for State of the Union 2007!
In fact, it appears some generals from the Iraq War have flown home in helicopters (Blue Thunder?!?) to listen to their "Commander in Chief." Unless ... could those men actually be fake military officials, planted right up front to draw out foreign terrorists??? That would be a brilliant tactical masterstroke: "Yes, Mr. Terrorist, all our big generals are sitting in the front row ... right this way, my pretty ... walk right into... my lair ... OF JUSTICE!!! CONGRATULATIONS! YOU ARE NOW BEING ARRESTED BY DENNIS KUCINICH AND CONDOLEEZZA RICE!!!"
Anyway, everyone is taking their seats ... and so we wait ... while some lady with a big wooden hammer names a bunch of people who will escort the President into the room (bodyguards from Missouri, Kentucky, etc. ???).
FINALLY, the show is about to begin! A pasty-faced man walks right up to the TV camera and bellows:
"HEY EVERYBODY, THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA."
Can anyone listen to those words--regardless of political party-- and not get a chill in the spine of their neck? The hairs stand up on my ends even now as I recall when those words were spoken, not one hour ago!
It's "SHOW TIME!" President George Bush Jr., our 43rd president, enters the hall...
... and Lady Democracy roars her approval! The chamber thunders with mighty ovations as Bush, ever the showman, shakes every person's hand in the whole room. Never without a friendly word or wink, he immediately puts everyone at ease: "Sure, we've had our differences," he seems to say, "but our country is bigger than all that. Because our STATE OF THE UNION is bigger than that!"
(My uncle once explained it to me like this: "David, think of the State of the Union speech as a sort of 'User's Manual' for this great, complicated product we bought called THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. And by the way, David," he added, "if I may continue addressing you, think of the Bible as our nation's Unlimited Warranty!")
AND SO.... We're off! President Bush looks down at his speech ... a nation waits, breathless:
WILL HE TALK ABOUT THE IRAQ WAR?
CARS AND TRUCKS AND HOW MUCH GAS THEY USE?
THOSE BOYS WHO GOT KIDNAPPED BY THAT OLD MAN?
THREATS FROM THE FOREIGNERS?
Tonight there is no shortage of such hot-button topics to address. The pundits and the proletariat are all wondering: which issues will Bush tackle-- which Hot Topics??? (Good store for funny t-shirts, by the way.)
Bush begins with a fine gesture: "It is my privilege to see this woman sitting behind me!" Who can argue with that? A classic opening gambit ... it keeps his opponents off-balance: FOR WHO DARES SAY EQUALITY IS BAD??? The Democrats seem, as ever, unsure of themselves: "Should we give him a standing ovation?" But soon everyone is caught up in the rush of patriotism...
... and we have our first "STANDING O!"
Count it, Jimmy! TOUCHDOWN! (Or, as our foreign foes say, "GOOOOOOAAAAL!")
Then, for a split second, it looks like "Straight Shooter" John McCain has fallen asleep. Fine, buddy, sleep through history! You'll only be judged by EVERY SINGLE PERSON ON MY MAILING LIST ONCE I TELL THEM WHAT TO THINK OF YOU.
But let's get back to the podium: Bush is in the Zone from the get-go ... looking strong, confident ... speaking with ease and assurance ... It's his language, he'll use it as he sees fit... Got a problem with that? Then run for president and get elected and give a big speech and tell everyone all about it. Mr. Bush is the President, after all, and ONLY HE can deliver the State of the Union speech! So sit down, shut up, and "Let the leader lead!" (Eric B. & Rakim, "Follow the Leader")
And so, once again, as is our habit, on a cold January evening we fall eagerly, happily under the spell of that ol' spellbinder, the original two hundred year-old magician: The Amazing America. Despite our divisions, despite our disagreements, we are one nation, spellbound.
First up, domestic issues: The WEALTH of our nation ... the HEALTH of our citizens ... the STEALTH of our immigrants. Good news to report! President Bush says, "Our economy is adding jobs and everyone seems pretty healthy."
But there's work to be done ... from his podium, the President's eyes say it all as he scans the room: "Can I count on you to pull your weight?" From my sofa, I reply: "Count me among the Sleeve-roller-uppers, Mr. President. I'm ready to strengthen our borders, increase opportunity, and make all the poor people get health insurance with some kind of tax credit(?). Whatever it takes."
But enough with the high-falutin' talk. This President wants to flip the script, "calculator-style." He wants to drill down to the raw data ... some hard numbers ... the very calories of our nation's economic appetite. And boy, have we been hungry: 40,000 new jobs created every week with good benefits and great opportunities for future growth ... we're talking about high-tech jobs, where we're all designing robots on the internet: ACTUAL JOB-CREATING ROBOTS THAT ARE PROGRAMMED TO CREATE EVEN MORE JOBS. Science ... jobs ... the future ... it's the American dream, by any other name. Let's put it in a language the Future can understand: 1000001110101011101010100101010101011100101010110110001010101011101010101010. (Word to the wise: It's pronounced "Boop beep boop boop beep beep boop boop beep boop beep beep.")
The crowd is exhilarated: It's first and ten, fifty yards to go, and the President has just kicked a forty yard return with two downs to go! AND ... LADIES AND GENTLEMEN ... HE HASN'T EVEN PUT ON HIS HELMET YET.
You see, these moments of high spectacle and American grandeur-- the traditions that stitch our fabric together in the quilt of America, from the days of George Washington, through Dwight Eisenhower, and then straight through Gerald Ford, and even through today-- these traditions are what unite us, NOT divide us. Think about it for a moment: What other speech could bring together all these different Americans? REMINDER: There are over 400 Congressmen in the room, not to mention the Senators. There is even a man who jumped under a train. And a beautiful entrepreneur lady who helps John Walsh scare children!
--Oh, one thing I forgot to mention: Laura Bush looks STUNNING in her simple red dress. A humble dress, to be sure, just the thing a chain-smoking librarian would wear. But she positively IRRADIATES it. Is it just me, or does she wear a red dress better than any First Lady since ... well ... the original, the one and only ... Nancy Reagan???
Oh, heck, let's make it official: Laura Bush is truly "America's First Lady!" When she smiles, you can see a nation smiling as one. Hers is a smile that truly represents ALL ACTUAL AND POTENTIAL SMILES AT EVERY POSSIBLE POINT IN TIME, BACKWARDS AND FORWARDS THROUGH ALL NINE DIMENSIONS.
Say ... on a related note, "Whither the Bush twins?" I didn't see those two charmers in the Skybox tonight. Are they in "time-out" or something? Not to be too crude, but it wouldn't hurt to have some eye candy in the upper decks! (Umm... by the way... don't tell my wife I just said that!!!!!!!!!! I should actually type one thousand exclamation points to express how scared of my wife I am.)
Anyway ... where were we? Oh, yeah, we were just about to discuss a little something called the FUTURE OF THE FREE WORLD. It's a shame, but it's true: Terrorism, War, and HIV/AIDS still wreak havoc on our peaceful planet. The question is simple: Does our President have a plan? And does our nation have his back? Will we continue to slumber while dangers gather, or will we fight these challenges abroad before we trip over them on our streetcorners?
The answer, straight from the President, is spine-stiffening stuff: Stick together, stay focused, keep your head down, and keep eating your Bibles.
Very well: The battle is joined, as it has been every day since "Terrorists flew those planes to attack America." We plan for Victory and forswear Defeat. We stand a little straighter, stare down Evil a little stronger, do three hundred sit-ups just because we are so pumped ... reborn in the crucible of determination ... as it slowly dawns on us, all at once-- we, the children of the 21st Century's War on Terror, are the new "Greatest Generation." (Perhaps, even, "The Most Greatest Generation?") BATTLE STATIONS! "Sorry, Grandpa, this is a new kind of war. Keep your B-1 Bomber stories to yourself."
We can see it in our Presiden't eyes; hear it in his words tonight, ringing through these hallowed halls in the White House(?)
We stand ... United.
United ... for Freedom.
Free to stand ... and applaud our President.
Actually, at this point, I was so excited I was jumping up and down on my sofa. (Umm ... here's some free advice: Don't watch the State of the Union speech on a "Jennifer Convertibles" sofa. It is not built to withstand star-spangled enthusiasm. I found that out "the hard way," i.e. five-inch splinter in my fibula. Not to worry, my health care savings account has it covered.)
Like a white-knuckled Marine in the fight of his life, President Bush soldiers on, addressing numerous topics of varying consequence. Did I once hear someone once say this guy ducks the big issues? Not from where I sit! According to my notes, he discussed:
Electing Judges in special, turbo-charged ten-second meetings...
Renewing No Child Left Behind...
Designing cars that eat corn on the cob(?!?)...
Assembling a task force to discuss the War on Terror...
The differences between Shiites and Sunnis... (Here's a hint: They both want to kill everybody.)
... It's called "Bold vision," ladies and gentlemen, and tonight the podium fairly reeked of it!
And then, inevitably ... out of nowhere ... the elephant in the room raises her trunk... you might remember her: She's an unseemly beast, name of "Iraq."
Where we picked up this perilous pachyderm, I don't know. But she's ours now, and we've got to keep her ... be a good steward to this "Dumbo" ... true, she's a bit ornery at the moment ... she needs a calming voice, a steady hand ... lots of special Muslim hay ... but no worries, we can help her. She'll be walking on her own two feet before too long.
And so ... to the SURGE. This is it, America: The big moment. Do or die. Victory or death. Eat, drink, man, woman. This is Custer's Last Stand, Remember the Alamo, and World War II, all wrapped together with a big red ribbon called "THE FUTURE." It's our gift to the world ... or our burden for all eternity. So put up or shut up. THIS IS THE STATE OF OUR UNION.
President Bush looks around the chamber. Lots of friends sitting out there ... a few enemies, too. From where he stands, 20,000 more soldiers is a small price to pay for absolute and total victory. Can our hallowed halls accept anything less? Can the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument waltz under the moonlight to any other tune? So play it again, Sam. This time, with feeling ... you might remember the melody, from way back in Nineteen Fifty-Freedom. It's called: "SURGIN'."
STANDING OVATION. The maestro has captured our hearts and catapaulted our sense of the possible to the farthest reaches of the final frontier. How can anyone disagree? I know the "Blog-ass-sphere" is thick with naysayers and their "pooh-poohing dirty diaper divisions," and their "remote squadrons of RSS butt-suckers," but we need to stay focused. THIS ISN'T A GAME. This is fourth and ten. We're a team-- in it to win it, America ... sometimes it seems like we're the only team on the field, and everyone else is off playing some other game on some other field, but we're still a team ... and this State of the Union was our half-time speech. So let's put our heads together and figure this out once and for all:
HOW CAN WE KILL THAT INFERNAL GODDAMN ELEPHANT???