Barack Obama's initial foray into that belly of the beast known as a joint session of Congress was nothing less than a resounding... semi- success. Sort of. It wasn't quite a State of the Union Address. His Inaugural pre-empted that. You get one or the other. That's the rule. This was a State of the Union Address Lite. With only 60% of the expectations of your normal State of the Union Address. A pseudo SOTU, if you will.
Stepping into the den of 535 lions, (okay, 534 and Roland Burris,) the new President proved himself to be a worthy equal to Ronald Reagan when it comes to lofty unbridled optimism. Which is good. Because he spent most of his first thirty days warning us about the true state of the economy. Which is bad. Really bad. Oh don't get me wrong, it could be worse. So far, no nostril leeches. Fingers crossed.
Obama used the forum to echo Fed Chair Ben Bernanke's assertion that we could easily emerge from our financial crisis in two years if we just get this banking mess under control. Oh, is that all? You might as well say: "we can marry the princess and live happily ever after, as long as we kill that pesky pack of three headed dragons smoking on the drawbridge.. And all we got in our pockets is a couple of expired credit cards, a bent rubber paper clip, 43¢ in change and some green lint." Then again, who knows? Maybe we elected ourselves President MacGyver.
One small problem with The Blueprint For The Future is a distinct lack of those pretty skinny white lines on it. But this speech wasn't about specifics. It was a halftime pep talk from a coach whose team is down by 4 touchdowns. "Don't you know who we think we are? We're America dammit. When we say we're going to kick some serious innovative butt, you can bet the wind farm that we will. And the rest of the world better damn well get out of our way." He even called for sacrifice. Which to Americans is the equivalent of saying "nostril leeches."
In the peanut gallery, Nancy Pelosi bounced up and down rooting on Team Obama like a cheerleader whose Gatorade had been spiked with No- Doz. All she was missing was a pleated skirt and some pom- poms. And Joe Biden filled the role of court jester again by allowing himself to be the butt of the President's jokes. He's becoming the Tommy Smothers of the new Administration. "The public always liked you best."
Right now, the President's approval rating is Teflonizing everything he touches. One of those instant polls revealed that almost every single Democrat and 1 out of every 4 Republicans were inspired by Obama's 52 minute colorized impersonation of FDR. Although considering his unremittingly upbeat performance, I see him more in the mold of that other populist Depression Era hero, Annie: "The sun'll come out tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar. That tomorrow, there'll be sun." A sun that is going to solve all our energy needs. And oh yeah, did I mention, we're going to cure cancer. Tomorrow. Of course, as they say in the song. That darn tomorrow... its always a day away.
Will Durst is the political comic who writes sometimes. This is one of them..
Catch Durst at Zanies Downtown Chicago Feb 26- March 1st.
And blogging live from the Masters Tournament in Augusta Ga, April 6th- 12th. Masters.org.
Don't forget the book. The All American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing, available from Amazon.