I started late, but watched most of the State of the Union speech last night. I tried to keep up my cynical front, but in the end I was bowled over by President Obama’s confidence, his insistence on economic fairness, and also by the enthusiasm on the floor.
You forget, reading the papers, watching professional actors and models, how ordinary most of us are in appearance: chubby women (like me!) in red skirt suits, Gabby Giffords looking fragile, the people in Michelle Obama’s box: Giffords’ bald husband what’s-his-name the astronaut, Warren Buffet’s secretary, someone who represented people who got job help and was all happy and cheerful. Much of the audience, Democrats but some others too, seemed to enjoy getting caught up and carried away, feeling patriotic and virtuous. At some level, I guess that’s what they’re about, patriotism, sentimentality, along with the deal making and schmoozing and eating corn dogs and barbecue. I thought of my one-time NYU SCPS student who seems very decent, Steve Israel of Long Island who is moving up fast in the Democratic ranks in the House.
So there is some goodness out there, not all a hateful circus like the Republican debates– anyhow, I gave over for the moment, moved by the President's eloquence, by Congressman John Lewis’s good old battered face, by the three women Justice, by Olympia Snowe clapping more than a Republican was supposed to.
I felt included last night, in spite of Obama sounding a big supporter of fracking and boasting about what it was like being in the Situation Room when we finally got Osama bin Laden.
I felt like an American for a moment.