Friday, May 02, 2003

Alone Again (Naturally): Sullivan found it a "hubristic" piece of pageantry. Reynolds thought it "rang false." At least Stephen Green saw it for what it was. He's right that this was the anti-Dukakis moment. And it was pure political theater. And Bush hit it out of the park. Hubristic? I think America is willing to forgive a victory lap. If there was one group that Bush risked offending, it was the military. Think of it this way: Clinton couldn't have pulled it off, the flight suit, the landing, the "I flew this plane" smile. The military would've taken one look at Clinton giving that performance and thought that it belittled the life and death edge they live on, the danger of carrier sorties and returns in theater. But Bush pulled it off; the military clearly digs this guy and his almost-fighter-jock attitude. If they approve, America will too. Hell, even old Pat Cadell on Hardball last night admitted that Bush came off looking great, even though he thought the whole business was over-the-top staging. And what the hell's with Pat Cadell anyway? He looks like he should be sitting around a place he calls a "pad," listening to Herbie Mann records (on vinyl), writing mash letters to Jerry Brown.

Another thing: Both Glenn and Andrew think the speech was better than the staging. Wow, 100% wrong. I have to admit that I've never been a fan of Bush's speechwriters. I think their stuff is boring, jejune, like a list of platitudes and rather stock phrases. Its speech by Powerpoint, which plays to the worst of the Bush type. (Remember Dana Carvey doing Bush the First as Powerpoint man? "No new taxes. Thousand points o' light. Stay the course. Not gonna do it!") Last night was a great time to introduce a Reaganesque theme, something like "As a country, we do what we say we'll do." A simple theme like that highlights the president's resolve in the midst of Democrats waffling (my brother calls John Kerry's war stance "L'Eggo My Policy!"); it reinforces the message to North Korea, Syria, Iran that we can call them to account any time we wish; and it draws a line of distinction between the way the previous administration approached diplomacy and the way this one does. Luckily, the entrance was grand enough to make a ho-hum speech enough.

No comments: