We tried to do a live blog of the State of the Union address at the Michigan Messenger, but had some technical difficulties. As always when listening to such speeches, I am reminded of HL Mencken’s brilliant description of the rhetoric of Warren Harding. It applies just as perfectly to all such speeches today:
It reminds me of a string of wet sponges; it reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights. It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it. It drags itself out of the dark abysm of pish, and crawls insanely up the top most pinnacle of posh. It is rumble and bumble. It is flap and doodle. It is balder and dash.
The most ridiculous part for me was all the talk about fiscal responsibility – from the man who presided over the most profligate borrow-and-spend administration in history for 6 years. Now that the Democrats control Congress, he’s suddenly discovered the evils of earmarks. Did anyone hear one word about earmarks from him between 2001 and 2007, when the Republicans controlled both branches of government and they were spending like drunken sailors?
He demanded that spending on earmarks be cut in half. But since half those earmarks come from Republicans, it’s not hard to guess which half he wants cut. This line also provoked dark laughter on my part:
“As we explore promising avenues of research, we must also ensure that all life is treated with the dignity it deserves.”
Right. Because as his administration demands that private security contractors who gun down Iraqis be given total immunity from Iraqi law, he’s treating all life with the dignity it deserves. Because when his henchmen arrest innocent Canadian citizens and fly them to Syria so they can be tortured for months on end, he’s treating all life with the dignity that it deserves.
I don’t know how any thinking human being could deliver that speech with a straight face. I don’t know how any thinking human being could take such blatantly dishonest, empty and hypocritical rhetoric seriously. It is, indeed, balder and dash.