Terry Eastland has an outstanding evaluation of the president’s State of the Union speech: “Next Stop: War.” Eastland elaborates on several of the strands of the speech in a way that only magnifies respect for the might of the president’s words. I myself have little to add to Rocket Man’s and Eastland’s evaluations of the speech except a point about President Bush himself.
Over the past 30 years as I studied Lincoln’s life and speeches, I found myself liking Lincoln more and more as a person the better I got to know him–and it is possible to get to know him awfully well. It struck me that this reaction more or less replicated the experience of people (like Jack Armstrong and Joshua Speed, for example) who met Lincoln as an impoverished young man and became his fast friends and admirers. The better his acquaintances got to know him, the more they liked him. When he first ran for the state legislature at the age of 22, although he lost the election, he received the votes of 92 percent of the residents of New Salem, Illinois, to which he had moved only a year earlier.
I think a similar phenomenon applies to President Bush. Several of the most powerful strands of the speech last night, those where he wore his own feelings on his sleeve, were those that came out of his own heart and life. I think the more Americans get to know him–and he showed a lot of himself last night–the more they will like him as a person.
The opposite, on the other hand, might well be said of certain Democrats like Senator Daschle. Hugh Hewitt shows a high threshold for pain in memorializing, and doing justice to, Daschle’s “prebuttal” in “Dashle’s lowest blow.” (Courtesy of RealClearPolitics.)
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