I’ve just watched the 14th State of the Union address since I first came to live in America in May 1997. And as I prop my eyelids open with matchsticks in order to write this piece, I am convinced that this has been the most boring address of them all. (At one point, my son actually leaned over to me on the sofa and said firmly in my ear, “Dad, wake up…”)
Yet in truth, even though its voltage was so darn low, this wasn’t the worst presidential speech (by Obama or anyone else) that I’ve heard, by any stretch: A blessed relief it was, at some level, that Obama didn’t seek to soar with every phrase, or to bind us in a spell of words. This was the speech of a chastened, post-rhetorical president—in some ways a weary president. It was certainly the speech of a president wiser than the one who delivered last year’s State of the Union.