The best speech anyone can give is one for which the audience holds low expectations.
When nobody expects much, a mediocre oratorical rendering is passable, and a workmanlike performance is positively first-rate.
And so it was with President Obama on Tuesday night. Nobody expected the 2011 State of the Union address to be a magical moment in rhetorical history, and they weren’t disappointed.
No Monroe Doctrine here. No “end of slavery.” Not even an “axis of evil.”
But what the president did offer up was a well-crafted, clearly organized, smartly delivered product that set the right tone for a nation tired of the whining and finger-pointing and bickering, and hungry for somebody—anybody—to grow up and start working for the people.
Although the president’s speech, in our 24/7 punditocracy, will likely be eviscerated by this morning and forgotten by next week, several aspects of the State of the Union were well worth considering, especially to students of the spoken and written word.
Gracious, gutsy intro