Paul Greenberg

How to sum up the president's speech Tuesday night? It's not easy, since the president himself didn't. It seemed to have no focus, no single theme, no unifying thread. It was the political equivalent of a long shopping list composed by a not very well-organized househusband. The warp and woof weren't so much interwoven as thrown together in no particular pattern that left no particular impression, except to make the evening drag on approximately forever. ("Is it over yet?") It seemed like midnight when it was still the shank of the evening.

After the speech, the commentators called on to discuss it on television in their usual oh-so-deep way, the legion of Charlie Roses and Sean Hannitys out there in cyberspace, seemed to be stifling yawns between their Profound Observations and the kind of witticisms that aren't. Even the professionally serious, the kind of nerds whose boredom threshold is normally a mile high, seemed a little tempted by ennui but, alas, not enough to just shut up and go away.

Whenever anything of remote interest appeared on a distant horizon of his text, the president seemed to have an immediate response: change the subject. His signature accomplishment, aka Obamacare, got barely a mention -- other than a misleading reference to how wonderfully it was working. Surely not even Mr. Obama, an intelligent man, can believe that.

Instead, all the president's efforts to efface his signature from his Signature Accomplishment having failed so far, he, yes, changed the subject. With just a lick and not even a promise of improvement. As if to say we'd all wasted enough time on this post-mortem and it was time to Move On.

At that point, a flickering old black-and-white image of another president's State of the Union address -- Richard Nixon's last -- appeared in the dim recesses of our wandering attention. ("One year of Watergate is enough!" --R. Nixon, 1974.) He would resign seven months later. Whenever a CEO, whether of a government, a corporation, a university or any other entity that owes the public an accounting, declares that enough has been said/investigated/exposed where this topic is concerned, Innocent Observer can be confident it hasn't been.


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.


 


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