The State of the Union, and Mitch Daniels’s Response

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on January 24, 2012

I live-tweeted the event, so I am not going to recapitulate my commentary; if you want to see it, ask to follow me here; I am very likely to approve your request. (And yes, I know that this is a way for me to increase the number of my followers, but seeing as how I almost never advertise my Twitter feed, I figure that I should be able to get away with doing it this evening.)

It is worth noting that for this evening, anyway, the scales appear to have fallen from Andrew Sullivan’s eyes. Maybe he should give himself an Yglesias Award, before he lapses back into Moore Award rhetoric. I certainly do agree with Sullivan’s contention that Mitch Daniels’s speech was better than the president’s by orders of magnitude; it is a tremendous pity that Daniels isn’t running for president. The American people deserve better than the presidential candidates they have in the arena.

UPDATE: In the event that you don’t feel like following my Twitter feed, I will write up the précis I was too lazy to write up last night. The State of the Union was long on soporific statements and campaign platforms, short on an actual governing agenda, and filled with class warfare, economic envy, and social ressentiment. It was comically confrontational, and may as well have been entitled “A One-Hour Plus Television Response to Mitt Romney.” I am as glad as anyone that Osama bin Laden is dead, and I am happy to tip my hat to President Obama for giving the order to kill him, but the constant need to make references to bin Laden show just how little this administration has achieved on a host of other policy fronts. Oh, and the milk joke was ridiculous.

I feared that the Daniels response would be a bad one, since Daniels does not have a reputation as a scintillating speaker, and since he wasn’t speaking to a live audience. But he was sober, serious, gracious, and did what the president had to do–which is to present an actual governing agenda. Between the president, who was nakedly political and who presented a speech with no substance worth taking seriously, and Daniels, who was markedly substantive and grown up, it was clear who was just running for office, and who was actually trying to make a positive difference in the crafting and implementation of policies that might serve to improve the lives of Americans, and the standing of America.

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