Last night, I watched as a man who had foolishly deceived a great number of people with a flawed and cynical plan for success tried vainly to extricate himself from his folly when his plans went horribly wrong and he found himself called into account. Which is to say I watched the wonderful Nathan Lane as Max Bialystock in the movie version of The Producers, which I watched in the stead of the State of the Union, because, as you all know, I can’t watch Bush try to speak without the urge to pull my eyeballs right out of their sockets. I read the transcript instead.
And as ever, I come away with: Some good ideas in there, but it’s the details that matter, and in any case it’s too bad this administration is too incompetent and too stubborn in the face of opposition to get any of the useful parts across. Again, this is my standard rap on the Bush folks, and nothing new. It surprises people when I occasionally mention that in theory, I like some of the things the administration proposes; well, I do. I simply despair at those ideas coming to fruition in a useful way; they’re often been stalking horses for other, less genial things, or simply a lot of noise that goes nowhere. I do occasionally and wistfully wonder what the last several years would have been like, had a competent president pressed forward so many of the ideas that Bush has in the States of the Union; we’ll never know, and I suppose I’m foolish for thinking about it.
I did actually watch the Democratic Response, partly because it was shorter and partly because I was interested in seeing how Jim Webb gets himself across. I’m less ecstatic about it than others I’ve seen; I thought it was well said but not anything spectacular, although one can certainly see how Webb has gotten a reputation for pugnaciousness. It does seem to suggest that if Bush is under the impression he’s still driving the bus, he’s in for a bit of a surprise.