Some of us who lived through the Reagan presidency will never forget him: my liberal Democratic aunt called him the finest orator in America--and he was. There have been many times since September 11th that I've looked toward the presidential podium and wished that I could see Ronald Reagan there.
As an orator, President Bush will never be remembered in President Reagan's class. But after the state of the union address, my reaction is simply: wow.
1) He began by paying tribute to the democratic revolutions in Afghanistan, the Ukraine, Palestine, and Iraq--and opened up the hope for peace if the Palestinians continue toward democracy.
2) He rightly celebrated the economic progress of the recovery.
3) He boldly laid down his goals for Social Security reform.
4) He affirmed his support for the defense of traditional marriage.
5) Then he went for the grand slam: I) he told Saudi Arabia to get on track toward democracy; II) he told the Egyptians to democratize; III) he told Syria to democratize and leave Iraq alone; IV) he said the same to Iran, and all but called for the Iranians to overthrow the mullahs: "When you stand for freedom, America will stand with you."
6) He paid tribute to an American soldier who died in Fallujah, and an Iraqi voter whose father had been killed by Saddam Hussein--and left not a dry eye in the house.
7) He closed with brilliant quotation from FDR on how every thing begins with a dream.
The president's dream is to democratize the Arab world, and he may well succeed. America has not seen this kind of courage in the White Houses since the days of Harry Truman. It's sometimes said if President Clinton was the country's first black president then President Bush is the first Jewish president. If that's true, then there's one other word for tonight's speech: chutzpah--and that's a compliment.