The president's State of the Union speech seemed to me cooked by competing chefs. Part chewy, part bland. Overcooked and under. Juicy and dry. No Reagan jelly beans (thank God) but some pie in the sky. The pie could be pizza or pumpkin; a yummy dish fit for a kingdom but how to bake it with the oven off. He gave us a needed menu and well-conceived but by embracing a domestic spending freeze can it ever be served?
Words aside, the music was a hymn to his lost Indies with an occasional fanfare for the old base. So much political rhetoric is orchestrated elevator music we need to grow antenna to pick up any new themes beyond the static. One waits for an improvisational riff.
What I heard was an embattled president in campaign mode trying to navigate the ship of state through reefs and high winds with Teabaggers at the ready to dump his cargo.
Can he waltz with his right foot and tango with his left? It would take some fancy dancing without falling on his face. He proposed closing tax loopholes followed by a quick two-step to lower the corporate tax rate. His single sentence to end oil subsidies got the Democrats to their feet while the offer to bring ROTC to campuses got the Republicans off their rump. Regarding the Healthcare shuffle, his olive branch to tackle medical tort restraints and small business paper work may have dismayed the left but his defense of insurance reforms landed him on his feet. It looks like we're in for twenty months of twirls and splits.
One impulse I have is to say, wake me up when it's over but, try as I might, I know I won't be able to desist. I may vow to ignore the malice of the far right, the deceit of the near-right and the cowardice of the center-left but I expect I'll be looking in at the spectacle and my mental health will suffer.
American politics is a carnival, as in carnivorous as well as the usual sense. The tents are going up for our quadrennial circus complete with blarney, clowns, cotton candy and much hoopla. We seem to be moving more to the cultivation of carnivores at least on the one side. The lion is untamed.
It may take a stack of six-hundred page novels, a long queue from Netflix and a supply of good music to keep me distracted until November 2012. Was it always thus? Maybe retirement has brought me closer to the fray; too close. Would the world keep spinning if I wasn't keeping watch?