Paul  Weyrich

Despite being known for policy politics on one hand and urban transportation on the other, I consider myself a journalist. Therefore, I try to look at things to discern what the average American sees when watching political events. I do not pretend to be wholly objective. But I also do not permit my political philosophy to drive my impressions while observing.

So it was that I watched the 40th State of the Union Address. In years past I was the guest of some prominent journalists and sat in the House of Representatives Gallery to watch the event. More recently, the Bush White House has had an auditorium filled with folks to watch the speech on the big screen. This year I had to be content to watch the State of the Union on the large flat screen in my bedroom.

What I saw was interesting. First, I must say that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) created a much better atmosphere than I had expected. Except while talking about the Iraq War, Speaker Pelosi was quick to jump and applaud at every line she felt she could do so. Republicans have made her out to be an evil, vicious person. Perhaps she is but she did not come across that way when millions of Americans were observing her. One of the greatest problems we have in America is that most people are too busy to pay attention to issues. That is not at all true in Europe, where people will talk into the early morning discussing issues. I know. I have had the experience. If Americans paid attention to issues they would judge Speaker Pelosi by what she stands for. It may change but this time the new Speaker came across as utterly charming and not at all the nasty leftist her opponents have contended she is. The point is that if this does not change Republicans had better find a better target because I think the average American will think she is just fine. I am not saying she isn't a hard, hard leftist. I am saying that I don't believe the public will perceive her as such.

Paul Weyrich

Paul M. Weyrich is the late Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
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