Clintonesque. That's what all the talking heads were saying about the president's State of the Union. And they didn't mean long.
Clintonesque means Barack Obama projected confidence and optimism.
It means he connected with his audience, that he looked and sounded BIG. Not a whine in sight. Not an excuse to be heard. He was the president.
And most of all it means he grabbed the Republican's issues and forced them to squirm — trying to decide whether to stand and applaud or sit there, like John Boehner did for so much of the speech, looking uncomfortable.
Are you for giving local schools and communities more control over education?
Do you really think rich investors should pay higher taxes than hardworking folks who just earn their money?
More boots on the ground to police the border? Good or bad?
How about the fact that Osama bin Laden is dead and Americans are no longer fighting in Iraq?
And what about that moment when Gabby Giffords and the president embraced? Just a few tears...
Now, back to Mitt Romney's taxes and Newt Gingrich's lobbying and mineral mining on the moon. And — oh, yes — don't forget his temper tantrum, oft cited as one of the reasons he shut down the government: Newt wasn't happy about his seat on Air Force One for Yitzhak Rabin's funeral. Oh, sorry, all that and the adultery part and the rest was before he found redemption. He was only in his 50s then.
The economy isn't where it needs to be, but it's on the right track. Right track/wrong track is the most important indicator of who wins. Wrong track, the incumbent loses. Right track, he should win.
The other gauge you watch is whether the candidate understands the problems of "people like me." Romney? The guy who wants you to understand that he should pay 15 percent while all of us poor slobs who work for a living pay more, because putting your money in the Cayman Islands or in a Swiss bank account is so much more productive. Sorry, guys. That doesn't play in Peoria. If ever there was a guy whom I can't imagine understanding the problems of working people, it is a governor's son who made millions and lives off the millions he gets for not working. He's going to connect with the pain of unemployment? Not.
Democrats have been worried, and with reason. They've been whining about their president, and for no reason if you ask me. This is certainly no time for complacency. Not even close.
But something changed on Tuesday night.
The president took the stage in front of a joint session of Congress as the leader of the country and the free world.
The Republicans kept throwing mud at one another in Florida, looking like petulant little boys.
Democrats started saying to one another: Maybe this is '96 again. Clintonesque.
To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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