A little more reflection this morning on the State of the Union speech (after I shovelled six plus inches of snow from the walkway; the good news is that it wasnt minus four this morning!): It was a fine, sober, and eloquent speech. Maybe not his best, but he has already given three or four perfect ones. The first part was a bit prosaic (and some of the proposed federal programs are not appealing and/or unconstitutional) and yet, oddly, often touching. Its odd how in an honest man even the prosaic and the questionable become interesting and plausible. The second part was perfect. The words were fine, and the pauses spoke volumes. Clearly, this is the man for a crisis. The moral tone, the self-confident American (dare I say cowboy?) mode gave heart to those around the world who know the truth of American principle and value American power. We have fought to make strangers free, and we are not going to stop. And some of us will die. We are willing to pay that price; we are honored to so so.
It must be said that the political consequences of his hard stance on Iraq will be great. There are three good general things that will result from the speech: friends will be heartened by his manly eloquence, fence sitters cannot imagine a rhetoric equally persuasive, and our enemies will be demoralized, their courage will show gaps. Although details of its effects (and the follow up with the Security Council) are hard to predict, it is certainly the case that chance will follow his design more than not. The UN will be persuaded in the end by the speech, by Powells follow up, and by the Blix Report. They may be squishy, but are not completely imprudent, nor are they without self-interest; and they do fear irrelevance, the greatest terror in the heart of an international bureaucrat.