As I was organizing a dinner for my college alumni association’s entertainment group, I did not get to watch all of the State of the Union Address last night. Before setting out, I did see his very classy introduction, a very warm tribute to an ideological adversary, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
She seemed to accept this with grace. It would be nice if this type of respect were to define their relationship for the next two years, much as, in the 1980s, Ronald Reagan and then-Democratic House Speaker Tip O’Neill, while differing greatly on policy issues, respected each other as individuals — and even enjoyed each other’s company.
I heard most of the speech while driving from West Hollywood to Sherman Oaks, much of the time caught in horrible traffic on Coldwater Canyon. You see, they had closed Laurel Canyon, the normal route I would take. I was thus not able to concentrate as much as I would like, focusing more on the stop-and-go traffic. I will note that the president sounded more confident than he has in recent media appearances. Indeed, before leaving for the dinner, when I watched his entrance on TV, I thought he looked confident — and determined.
On the whole, I thought it was a good speech. He offered a good, solid defense for the “surge,” the change of strategy in Iraq and his health care plan seems a good first step at reforming a system which works well for most Americans, but whose costs are becoming prohibitive for many. (I may have more to say on this later.)
Listening to the Democratic response from Virginia Senator Jim Webb, I became easily distracted. He did not sound nearly as strong as the president and offered little in the way of alternatives to the president’s plan. MSNBC’s David Shuster pretty much sums up my thoughts, noting that “Webb spoke mostly in platitudes, didn’t offer specifics about Democratic plans, and the way he described the current economic situation in this country was a bit misleading.“
On the whole, I agree with Powerline‘s John Hinderaker that the president was “back on his game,” but wonder with him if it will matter. It seems Democrats — and many in the MSM — are intent on opposing him no matter what he proposes. As the Washington Post‘s Ruth Marcus puts it, “If George W. Bush proposes something, it must be bad. Such is the knee-jerk state of partisan suspiciousness that when the president actually endorses a tax increase — a tax increase that would primarily hit the well-off, no less — Democrats still howl” (Via Instapundit).
The President delivered a good speech last night, offering many good ideas to defeat terrorism and improve the lives of Americans. It would be nice if Democrats in Congress showed the same respect for these ideas as he showed for the Democratic Speaker of the House.
UPDATE: Seems I’m not the only one who liked the speech. Glenn Reynolds notes that it polled well. According to CNN, 78 percent had a very — or somewhat — positive reaction to the speech.