I’m sure there will be hundreds of takeaways on the airwaves this morning about President Barack Obama’s State Of The Union address last night. There will be opinions by political pundits, who will take apart the seven thousand word speech as if they are compiling statistics for the players on their fantasy football teams. But for the Obama supporters who have gotten weary — for the Obama faithful who braved rain and sleet and snow and sweltering heat to register more people to vote than any presidential campaign in modern history — all they will be talking about is the new tone of voice the president unveiled.
I watched the State Of The Union address with my Twitter buddies. It was fun! I am getting to like TweetDeck, this latest of time-wasting devices. In some ways, it was like I invited a big crowd over for a watch party, but didn’t have to clean up afterwards. I was able to share comments with my own followers while keeping an eye on a larger cross section of the country by typing “#sotu” into a search column. If you think about it, I basically had a focus group of 500 people whose comments were scrolling by me all night. CNN had 25 people in a room twisting a dial. I think I got better information from my group, even with the built in bias it has towards Obama.
My Twitter followers, a menagerie of Democrats and Independents sprinkled with a small contingent of Republicans, have been all over the place lately when it came to President Obama’s job performance. Many were disillusioned. Some were hanging in there, but without much enthusiasm. And even though the president addressed many of the most controversial issues, like Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), Wall Street versus Main Street, the war in Iraq, and even the beleaguered healthcare reform effort, issues that are usually hot buttons for some of his supporters, the running commentary last night focused almost exclusively on the forceful tenor powering Obama’s rhetoric.
There is nothing like a speech by a real writer who understands the power of language. With his trademark baritone at a slightly higher pitch than usual, the president delivered an address that seemed at times like a Shakespearean soliloquy, combining tragedy, comedy, and pathos into a paean that urged the nation’s citizens, both public servant and private sector alike, to take action. And as the evening wore on, it became apparent that there had been a big effort by his speechwriters to use simpler, more evocative language. The word “PREACH” was tweeted and retweeted endlessly among my Twitter buddies as President Obama gave his rendition of a modern day black minister’s sermon, sans any “Negro dialect”.
Like it or not, the president has shown himself, even at this juncture when much of his legislative agenda is still up in the air, to be the best thing the Democrats have going. Wednesday night pretty much sealed the deal — the Democratic Party is now the Party of Obama.