Today I experienced a great internal debate. Will I go to institute class ( for those unfamiliar - a church sponsored religious education course at the university level) or will I watch the State of the Union address? You see, political blood runs through my veins. I don't think my ultimate decision was a reflection of my priorities because I love the institute class, but the state of the union is only an annual event afterall! I was particularly interested in the speech tonight because it was the first time President Bush addressed a congress controlled by Democrats. The whole process is just so fascinating to me! The hype, the ritual, the procedure, the exchanges, the commentary, and of course the speech itself. I believe it is no secret that I am a proud Republican, so what I say I say with an obvious bias. However, I thought President Bush gave a compelling speech. We can probably all agree that "W" is not a great orator. He does not have the mastery of speech of say, Tony Blair or Bill Clinton (much as I cringe to admit it). Tonight though, President Bush showed the American people why we elected him to the highest office in the land two times. Certainly Bush has not been the greatest leader in the history of this country but for all the vilification and vitriol that is spewed out toward him, he is a strong, sincere, reasonable, and compassionate man. He was extremely gracious to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - who by the way has not always been very gracious to him. He presented solutions and demonstrated resolve to tackle difficult issues facing the nation. He also laid out - I think in the most frank and articulate way yet - the absolute necessity to succeed in Iraq! In my opinion the Democratic response by rookie Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) was underlayed with more of the hate that has been common from some in that camp. You could see it in his eyes and the tension in his jaw. He called the President "wreckless". One can say a lot of things about how this whole situation in Iraq has played out, but that is a stinging and serious accusation. This comes from a man who during a White House reception refused to shake the President's hand or answer a question from the Commander in Chief about how the Senator's son was doing (currently serving in Iraq).
Anyway, my intention was not to offer political commentary on the speech in this blog so I will get to my point. The point is that I just love this stuff. I don't know why. No one in my family has been involved in politics. Sure, my parents and grandparents have always been voters but they've never been the type to follow things really closely. In fact, most everyone in my house sighs and rolls their eyes when I insist on watching speeches or they find me watching C-SPAN. How can one not be fascinated by it all? Just thinking about what it might be like to be in the House Chamber tonight got me excited. Contemplating the 2008 presidential playing field now coming into view is already intriguing me. I can't wait for the drama, the tension, the excitement, and the results!
I have always thought about being involved in politics by running for some office. Despite these occasional day dreams and my fascination with the political players and processes, a few things stand in my way. First and foremost is the near requirement to be arrogant and self-congratulatory to run. I'm not suggesting that I'm not that, but I don't want to be that and I hope I'm not ever that. All the manuevering, the shmoozing, the pretenses, and the ruthlessness really turns me off to real participation. I wonder if I would actually have the character to resist the extraordinary vortex of selfishness and pride that so easily grabs many of the powerful and the well-known. Secondly, I just do not have the personal confidence and elephant thick skin (don't elephants have thick skin??) that are essential to survival in the political jungle. I'm not sure I could even withstand the attacks and criticisms that come in local races. Maybe someday I will find the courage or the reason to jump into the fire, but for now I will be a fascinated and hopefully informed bystander!