Sunday, January 30, 2011

Straight For The Mush

Some members of the media were eager--almost too eager--to describe last week's SOTU speech by President Obama as "Reaganesque." It seems to be part of a meme they're trying to build around comparing Obama's "comeback" to Reagan's recovery and waltz to reelection. If anyone should know whether a speech actually reflected the qualities of Ronald Reagan it's Peggy Noonan. And since Noonan's been known to swoon for Obama's rhetoric in the past, if the SOTU truly was an uplifting vision of America's future you would expect here to fall in line to praise it. Instead, her piece in yesterday's WSJ is called An Unserious Speech Misses the Mark:

He too often in making a case puts the focus on himself. George H.W. Bush, always afraid of sounding egotistical, took the I's out of his speeches. We called his edits "I-ectomies." Mr. Obama always seems to put the I in. He does "I implants."

These "I implants" have made it almost impossible for me to listen to President Obama speak any more. It's always all about him, all the time. Even during Friday's short statement on Egypt he couldn't help but include a reference to his speech at Cairo in 2009. Every president has to have an enormous ego to ever end up in the White House. But they don't have to display it as obviously or consistently as President Obama does every time he opens his mouth.

Humor, that leavening, subtle uniter, was insufficiently present. Humor is denigrated by serious people, but serious people often miss the obvious. The president made one humorous reference, to smoked salmon. It emerged as the biggest word in the NPR word cloud of responses. That's because it was the most memorable thing in the speech. The president made a semi-humorous reference to TSA pat-downs, but his government is in charge of and insists on the invasive new procedures, to which the president has never been and will never be subjected. So it's not funny coming from him. The audience sort of chuckled, but only because many are brutes who don't understand that it is an unacceptable violation to have your genital areas patted against your will by strangers.

I actually hate writing this. I wanted to write "A Serious Man Seizes the Center." But he was not serious and he didn't seize the center, he went straight for the mush. Maybe at the end of the day he thinks that's what centrism is.

You knew things were going badly for President Obama when he started losing people like Peggy Noonan who desperately want to like him. And until he starts winning them back, talk of any Obama "comeback" is premature.