I’m not sure what you were doing last Tuesday, but I found myself firmly implanted in front of a television set, listening to a man who is not supposed to matter anymore. Joined by a couple of gentlemen playing beer pong, I watched the President stand up where he wasn’t welcome, speak to a Congress that doesn’t like him and do his job. The press can call it “compartmentalizing” and continue to be all Monica all the time, but, for one night, my hometown returned to the business it was built for.
The President touched on almost everything. He began with the budget surplus and how it would be spent and went on from there to civil rights, campaign finance reform and the environment. The press spoke of the speech as a laundry list of items and ridiculed it as such. They said it was a group of small programs each targeted to a specific problem and a specific group of people that they would help. I don’t know, but little things that are designed to actually help people sounds like a pretty good idea to me.
More interesting, though, was not what was said, but what was done. In the House chamber, numerous Republicans were absent and the level of applause was even more lopsided than usual. The statement the party was trying to make, however, was not the one that came across to most. What was supposed to appear to be protest actually appeared to be petty partisanship. When most of us were trying to escape impeachment for at least one evening, some members refused to allow us to concentrate on the future and what we can do.
The President thanked his wife and made a point to recognize different Americans for their accomplishments and contributions. He pointed to what they had done and what we had done and what we will do that can and has made the country great. It’s about hope. Maybe I’m a fool, but the reason I like him is that I honestly believe that he wants to make our lives better. That, I believe, is the measure of this man.
The day after, that small sense of pride left. The business of governing was over and it was time to return to what has consumed us and continues to do so. But, for one brief night, government was back. And, it was refreshing. I’m reminded of a conversation that I had with my stepfather. He said to me of the independent counsel and impeachment issue that he thought Ken Starr was just doing his job. On Tuesday, that’s what the President was doing and he was doing it well.