Of all my "DC Moments," my most favorite is when I watched the 2004 State of the Union from the House press gallery. It was my first week as an intern at a DC paper and I'd already thought that I'd died and gone to Nerd Heaven when I got my press pass. The SOTU invite, which was tossed off to us interns at the last minute as a afterthought, was like getting in the gates of Nerd Heaven and being greeted by a horde of angels who looked like Jake Gyllenhaal holding platters of delicious candy-coated orgasms.
I had absolutely no business being there. I brought my handy-dandy little reporter notebook, but they told me just to enjoy the show, that we didn't need to bother reporting on it. I did make the rookie mistake of clapping when Bush came in-- because, um, he's the President, and think what you will about the man who holds the office but you clap when the President enters-- but a second later learned that if you are in the press gallery, you do not clap, you do not react to anything that is being said, you just scribble. Or, if you're an intern who scammed her way in there, you stand tree-like at the back.
I did feel a mite ticked off as the speech progressed and I realized that I was attending the most ridiculous SOTU ever. My big chance to witness history as it was being made, and I got the SOTU where Bush used the podium to lecture professional athletes on steroid use. It's fantastic to re-read the speech itself three years later, since it's basically a half-hour of "stay the course, stay the course, stay the course" followed by twenty minutes of a deliciously random grab-bag of election year wedge social issues. Bush has never been particularly statesmanlike, but that night he basically just shouted nouns from the Culture Wars ("Abstinence! Defense of marriage! Patriot Act!").
Watching SOTU tonight, though, I felt better about the speech that I'd seen. After all, at least I wasn't there to witness this gem live:
“We will also fund additional research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn but from wood chips, stalks, or switch grass. Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years.”
I really think that if I had been in the press gallery to hear George W. Bush talk about cars running on wood chips, I would not have been able to contain my snort of derision. And if clapping is frowned upon by reporters, you know that snorting is not exactly encouraged.
It will be interesting to watch the reaction to this speech, since Bush displayed an uncharacteristic humility in talking about Iraq. He's finally moving beginning to inch toward an approach that may revive support for the war, though at huge expense to his legacy. He can never convince people like me that we had any business getting into Iraq in the first place, but he could convince me to support our continued presence there if he accepted responsibility and framed it as a moral or humanitarian issue, not a political one. Of course, Bush admitting that he was wrong to lead us into Iraq has approximately the same likelihood of Dick Cheney assfucking Al Gore while burning American flags in an abortion clinic.
We created the circumstances that allowed the current chaos in Iraq to start and flourish, and I happen to think that we have a moral obligation to try and fix the mess we made. We're still in Germany and Japan today because of the democracies that we imparted onto them following World War II, and those followed a war that we didn't exactly start (yes, that master's in history is coming along very well, thank you for asking). Did we really once think that America can enter a sovereign nation with no history of democratic political traditions, depose its leader, start a democratically elected government and peace out within six months? I don't remember the entire nation being stoned in the spring of 2003, but that's the only explanation I can think of now. But what the hell do I know? I'm just an ex-cub reporter who snorts when the President talks.
This is really a whole other post, but my points are that Bush is the exact opposite of a statesman and is that I'm not as partisan as you might think; that yes, I could agree with a Republican on Iraq if we could clarify exactly what the mission would be. They'll never get me on gay marriage, though. After all, if Bush ever does apologize for Iraq then Cheney would need to do that assfucking within the sanctity of marriage.