The President’s speech last night, it seems to me, was very good. We have gotten so used to him giving great speeches, including the State of the Union after 9/11, that when he gives a perfectly fine speech, we tend to be overly critical. So with last night’s speech. Because it was, inevitably and rightly, an election-year State of the Union talk, it did not reach the rhetorical heights of his very best efforts. (And yet, if you doubt it’s success, just re-play Nancy Pelosi’s response!) But, it worked. The strongest part of the speech was on foreign policy and the war on terror. That pudding had a clear theme and he stayed with it. Our duty is "the active defense of the American people," and we are not going to ask anyone’s permission to do that. Our resolution is firm, our actions in the world are not only in our interest, but are good. It was good that he that mentioned our fundamental principles and the "unseen pillars" of civilization that support them.
While his noting the virtues of tax cuts was a good thing, as was his declaration in favor of marriage, and his attack on runaway courts, I think he could have left the steroid issue out. Such particularity, especially in the State of the Union address, lowers our eye sights too much. The presidency is too high an office to be concerned with such matters. They should be handled, and talked about, on the lower levels of our constitutional building. I especially liked his few words on the Patriot Act, not only is he right on the issue, but his tough stance on it will be useful against his Democratic opponent in the fall: They can’t do two things at once, on the one hand critcize the administration for not doing enough on Homeland security, and on the other, criticize the Patriot Act as they have been doing (especially when both Kerry and Edwards voted for it). And, in fine, I liked this formulation of the President especially: "The momentum of freedom in our world is unmistakable and it is not carried forward by our power alone. We can trust in that greater power who guides the unfolding of the years." For more elaborate comments, see
Lucas Morel’s op-ed at Ashbrook.