What a difference a year makes. Only 12 months ago, George W. Bush was widely viewed as that boy in the White House (and likely a very temporary guest there); he inspired not confidence in his abilities but a seemingly endless number of parody sites with names likes smirkingchimp.com and The Complete Bushisms. Last night's State of the Union address, while not without its critics, underscores the respect Bush has gained, even or especially from critics.
"Surer Voice, Wider Vision," writes the New York Times, which also called Bush's speech "forceful" and a mix of "plain speaking moments of eloquence." "Bush Wows Pundits Again," headlines Howard Kurtz's Washington Post media column, who quotes glowing comments from the likes of Juan Williams of NPR and Fox News ("spoke as if he was speaking directly from his heart," said Williams immediately after the speech). The Los Angeles Times likewise covered the speech in largely neutral or positive terms, though the paper also included a telling story that relates to budget issues: "Red Ink May Last a Decade."
Overseas, the BBC notes that Junior seems to be hellbent on "Avoiding the Sins of the Father," largely by showing concern over economic woes. Doubtless to Pappy Bush and brood, the only mortal sin committed was failing to get reelected--especially after pulling massive poll numbers at the close of the Gulf War.
But it's a new century, a new war, and a new Bush in the White House, right? Things may be looking up for Dubya right now but there's little matters like Enron and secret energy policy meetings out there on the horizon like Willie Loman's shoeshine and smile. And--possibly? probably?--an inherited ability to squander an early lead. Certainly, it can't be comforting to the Bush camp to see Black Sheep Brother Neil starting to crop up in the news again. Or for another Bush girl to get in trouble with the law.