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Feb 03

State of the Union Address Applause

I decided to steer clear of fisking the President’s address. I’m trying to get out
of the pundit game. There are more than enough pundits in the blogosphere who are
far more qualified than I. That’s not to say that I don’t talk about politics from
time to time, but right now I’m more interested in learning more about my faith.

Anyhow, my focus for analyzing the State of the Union Address was applause. There
was certainly plenty of it. In a speech that lasted roughly 60 minutes, the President
was interrupted about 65 times for an approximate total of 17 minutes of applause.
That’s more than a quarter of the air time!

Was is all really necessary? Couldn’t the audience wait until afterward? One of
the news anchors called the multiple standing ovations a great tradition. What’s
so great about it? The president’s supporters are expected to applaud to cheer him
on. His detractors applaud to be polite. Even worse, most applause involves standing
(and sitting back down), which takes additional time. Thus, the applause serve little
more purpose than to inflate the president’s ego and make an already tediously long
and boring speech longer.

If any reaction from the audience can be taken to have any meaning, it’s the boos.
I think that’s the first time I’ve ever heard boos at a SotU Address. I thought
it was immature and inappropriate. This was neither the time nor the place for such
lack of restraint and decorum.

Ovations and heckles weren’t the only affectations I took note of. I also watched
faces. I noticed, for instance, that Hillary Clinton once again made no attempt
to hide her disgust and contempt during the speech. This time, though, she was joined
by a stone-faced Barack Obama.

Malcontent Democrats weren’t the only people I took note of, though. I must say,
Dick Cheney has a thoroughly disturbing visage. When he wasn’t grinning like Mr. Burns,
he was seemingly staring someone down. He looked as though flames would appear in
his eye at any moment. *shudder*

Cheney’s boss, on the other hand, was cheerier, if a bit smug. For much of the speech,
Bush wore the “I love me. Don’t you?” face that we’ve seen in past addresses.
There was, however, an extended moment of what appeared to be sincerely deep compassion.
When the President introduced the parents of a deceased marine, he seemed to have
difficulty maintaining his composure. When the Iraqi voter hugged the mother, I
wondered if he might even shed a tear or two. Was it staged? I’ll probably never
know, but it certainly looked convincing.

So there you have it. There weren’t any real surprises in the speech. A lot of people
imitated prairie dogs. A few people behaved like spoiled children. Bush seemed to
be rather full of his own self-importance, Cheney looked creepy, and Hillary looked
contemptuous.

P.S. The Democratic response wasn’t particularly deep, either. Reid has a friendly
face, but can’t deliver a joke or amusing anecdote well. Pelosi has the presentation
skills Reid lacks, but needs to put her eyebrows back where they belong so I’m not
so distracted by her “permanently surprised” look while she’s speaking.
They both should stop trying to hop on the “values” bandwagon. The left’s
values, for good or for ill, aren’t the same as the right’s values. For the sake
of the American people, stop pretending.

P.P.S. I couldn’t resist throwing in a little bit of punditry. 😉

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