Friday, February 04, 2005


Noonan Sketches the SOTU - Normal Service Resumed: "The end of the speech offered an unforgettable moment. When the mother of Marine Sgt. Byron Norwood, who gave his life in Iraq, was honored in the balcony, and then leaned down to embrace the woman in front of her, an Iraqi who had lost her father to Saddam, and who had just voted -- when that mother embraced that woman it said more than words could about what we are doing and why. Sacrifice brings progress; courage brings deliverance; love born in Pflugerville can liberate in Fallujah. It pierced the heart.
As for the Democratic response, Harry Reid looks and talks like a small-town undertaker whom you want to trust but wonder about, especially when he says the deceased would love the brass handles. Although Nancy Pelosi continues to look startled, even alarmed, her comments are predictable and pedestrian. Both seemed eager not to agree with Ted Kennedy's recent 'Iraq is Vietnam' statements, which more and more seem not just stupid but scandalously so. Absent endorsing radical defeatism, however, Mr. Reid and Ms. Pelosi had little to say. They made Important Sounds. Neither seemed sincere or serious. The president seemed both."

Ms. Noonan may have taken a drilling after her scathing piece on the inaugural address, but she redeems herself to those critics with this one. I felt she was entitled to her opinions, and I was not moved by the inaugural either. It lacked emotion, and told me little that I didn't already know. In fact, a week later, I remembered little of what he was trying to get across other than his main point: we are the nation that will fight for freedom for all people on this planet, whether popular or not. That is a message I can support.
Here, Peggy fabulously points out the important themes of the speech, but for anyone who watched, there was only this moment. Seeing an Iraqi woman proudly displaying both a Peace sign and an ink-stained finger as if to say, 'This is why you have paid this price'. Her embrace with that Mother was clearly not staged, and more than a little emotional. I got the sense that the Mother and the world watching all felt the gratitude that the Iraqi woman had for all of our sacrifices during this time. She'll never understand the price we paid, but we will never understand how different it is to leave your home in the morning to go to the voting booth and arrive alive back home in the evening. Us Americans have been blessed not to have a tyrannical leader's regime shoot people at random in our streets or put decapitated heads on sticks in the town square. Whether you agreed with the war or not, we should be proud of this accomplishment as it will be part of the American legacy.
As for Reid and Pelosi, she is right. He is just slightly off normal, and Pelosi was right on message. Their message is a delicate one as it has to be less virulent than Kennedy's and forceful enough to satisfy their constituencies. I did not envy their task. It seems, if history speaks of their philosophy at all, it will remember them as pols and not that of event drivers. No matter what you think of the wars that led up to it, there are more than a few people who are appreciative to live in freedom because George Bush had the fortitude to win it for them. He is the event driver, and he will be remembered as such.

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