State of the Union is a sign of the times

John Radzinski

Last Tuesday, many students hoping to watch another thrilling episode of House or Law and Order were undoubtedly surprised and disappointed when they saw George W. Bush’s face on the screen instead of Hugh Laurie’s.

I was not expecting House. I knew that the State of the Union address would be on, and yet, whenever I see the president’s face on television, it is always a disappointment. Not because of the fact that there will not be a new episode of House, but rather because of the nauseating dribble that stumbles its way out of the former C+ Yale graduate’s mouth. Evidently, according to more than 70 percent of Americans polled, they too feel the same.

Having said that, I give some kudos to the President for something he said. It was the first line of his speech when he cited that for the first time in history, he would be the first president to ever say Madame Speaker, referring of course to recently elected Speaker Nancy Pelosi. For at least 20 seconds, there was something that everyone could applaud for, and it was genuine. It was not just one of the obligatory 63 standing applauses of the night.

Of course, if it were up to the president, there certainly would not have been a first woman speaker. However, despite the fact that “Dubya” and Pelosi agree on essentially nothing, it was a very classy and seemingly honest tribute by President Bush. It is in these moments when Bush gives the idea that he is “just a man from Texas,” where he can sometimes seem charming and likeable. But then he reads his script and all that goes by the waste side.

Too bad there was little afterward that one could cheer for, especially in regards to the Iraq war. This was made apparent by the near silence in the room on both sides of the chamber when he talked about the Iraqi conflict and his plan to send 21,000 more troops to the nation about to break out in civil war.

However, this tribute got me thinking that Bush’s address to Pelosi really is a sign of the times. In 2008, running for the Democratic nomination are two actual competitors, one of whom is Hillary Clinton, the other Barack Obama, a woman and an African American. And then there’s Chris Dodd from Connecticut. This will actually be the last time you hear of him in any sort of news source.

Seriously though, think how far we have come since 1992, when Colin Powell was considering a run for presidency, but dropped out in the name of safety. Since then we have had African American candidates, such as Alan Keyes and Rev. Al Sharpton, but neither of them were serious presidential candidates like Obama.

Yet, as far as we have come, we still have a long way to go. When will we notice what a candidate’s feelings are on gay marriage, abortion, the economy and foreign policy instead of focusing simply on what gender or race a candidate is? It seems as though, (and I appear to be guilty of it, too) that we concentrate on the fact that Hillary Clinton is a woman, or that Obama is black, instead of what really matters.