Then there was some blather about a hopeful society and some drum thumping about staying the course and victory over evil. Standard stuff, but I did like this paragraph:
Yet the destination of history is determined by human action, and every great movement of history comes to a point of choosing. Lincoln could have accepted peace at the cost of disunity and continued slavery. Martin Luther King could have stopped at Birmingham or at Selma, and achieved only half a victory over segregation. The United States could have accepted the permanent division of Europe, and been complicit in the oppression of others. Today, having come far in our own historical journey, we must decide: Will we turn back, or finish well?
Hard to argue with. I actually didn't notice it until I read the speech, because while he was actually talking I was still thinking about mermaids at this point.
That was about it. Not a bad speech, but not his greatest either. It was actually delivered remarkably well, with only a couple of stumbles, most notably when the failure of social security reform got applause.
A couple of things stood out.
First there were the catch phrases. I thought the 'Keeping America Competitive' theme was a bit tired. It's an appealing idea but he didn't really present anything substantive and new in his 'American Competitiveness Initiative'. The 'hopeful society' theme he wrapped up with was also pretty weak. I understand his desire to combat all the negativity in the current political environment, but his idea of hope and mine don't always find common ground. I'm pretty sure that denying condoms to AIDS victims in Africa and putting more drug users in jail isn't what I think of as part of a 'culture of hope'. But the catch phrase that I think did work was when he said 'America is addicted to oil.' That was right on target and he followed it up with some good suggestions and meaningful promises. I'd like to see him take this theme and run with it to produce some real, market-based incentives for fuel efficiency and alternative energy. It's the kind of issue that could save a troubled presidency. Are you listening, George?
Then there was the crowd. The reaction shots reminded me again how truly unpleasant and off-putting Hillary Clinton is. They cut to her several times and caught her simpering in a truly bizarre way. First they got her looking like she'd swallowed some sort of live insect when Bush mentioned domestic surveillance, like she couldn't decide whether to look enthusiastic or outraged and was searching around for someone to tell her which look would get her into the White House in 2008. She also has a pretty good pissed-off axe murderer look which she graced us with when Bush mentioned the close relationship between her husband and his father in a little joke towards the middle of the speech. But boy, she sure was standing up, applauding and grinning when he mentioned the failure of his social security reform plan, along with most of the other Democrats. I had to choke down my rage, and at one point I'd actually titled this article 'Why Do Democrats Hate the American People', but I thought better of it.