Everyone’s still talking about Tuesday’s State of the Union Show, but what about the state of those who attended the State of the Union and made up what’s known in the business as the live audience? We were frankly alarmed by what we saw. Let’s just say there were many in the crowd who just don’t seem to be getting older and healthier.
For starters, Joe Biden looked gaunt. Has the president’s pet veep not been eating? When last spotted that night he was wet-eyed, brushing away tears. This was after the evening’s main speaker said Joe would be in charge of new job-retraining efforts in partnership with our community colleges. There he is, wanting to run for president, and he’s been told to go back to junior college. You would cry too if it happened to you.
Then we noticed Harry Reid, and let’s just say he displayed none of Dick Durbin’s ebullience. He appeared pained. What is going on? He never smiles these days. The pressure of being Harry Reid is destroying him.
Michelle had some nice guests with her in the balcony. To her left was a home-owning woman who is about to lose her unemployment benefits but who looked much more middle class than the penurious middle class the evening’s main speaker is creating. To that woman’s left was Dr. Jill Biden, who increasingly is being taken as her husband’s daughter. One question that arises: given Michelle’s and Dr. Jill’s connections, couldn’t they help find the unemployed woman between them a mortgage-paying job? Even at the 77 percent rate? Just asking.
The evening’s sports-gender star was Jason Collins. He was up there near Michelle as well. If not for the TV cameras, we wouldn’t have known he was present. For some reason, the evening’s main speaker never called on him. He knew the feeling. When he came out of the locker room closet last year, he was ranked 360th among the NBA’s 360 active players. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Mr. Collins continues to ride the bench. Cruel are the dialectics of social change.
We would be remiss if we didn’t show at least one highlight from the main speaker’s performance. We liked his style when he took charge and thundered, “The debate is settled. Climate change is a fact.” So what did he mean by that, on a night of continuing record cold? Who knows? Who cares? It was warm in his limo on the drive over. He owed Al Gore a favor. He was thinking of blue Hawaii, where not bothering to think is the state’s proudest possession. Much later he talked up Obamacare, the greatest thing since apple pie with cinnamon. But if it’s so tasty, why not talk about it at the outset instead of just before the foreign policy section, by which time most viewers are in the snoring phase of their day? The debate is settled there too.
Of course, if our main speaker lauds Obamacare, we have to assume that he’s lying on this score well. Meaning, whatever is settled and a fact must be just the opposite. Which makes his signoff, “God bless you, and God bless the United States of America,” particularly curious. Was he actually conveying what the Rev. Wright used to thunder about the country we all live in?
Once the new dialectic kicks in, it becomes contagious. If we were to name Tuesday’s main speaker this week’s EOW, could that be construed as an actual endorsement? He’s termed an enemy because he’s in fact a friend? Just like Iran, which the main speaker insisted is busily eliminating its “stockpiles” of “higher level enriched uranium.” Meaning that it might be enriching those stockpiles to even higher levels.
Or to turn to the world of folk-singing, peace movements are mourning the death of Pete Seeger, he who famously sang, “If I had a hammer,” by which he meant, “If I had a hammer & sickle,” but polite people pretend that couldn’t have been the case. As the PBS NewsHour’s ever polite Jeffrey Brown put it, amid an effusive tribute to Seeger’s life, “Along the way, he joined the Communist Party, then renounced it.” A decade or two of devoted Stalinism reduced to a passing glance. Of course, in his own nervous mind Jeffrey Brown was probably being irresponsibly McCarthyite. This week’s EOW prize should steel him in that conviction. We’ll make a man of him yet.