Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Valerie called from Washington to see if I was going to watch the State of the Union Address. I didn't even know it was on. That's how detached I've become from the so-called real world. So I tuned in.

The first thing that impressed me was that history was being made. Behind the President was seated the first female Speaker of the House, Representative Nancy Pelosi (D. CA).

There was quite a bit of fanfare around that and I took a moment to reflect on my old days as a dreaded Women's Libber and all the frustration and anger entailed in that. As you will all recall, we had no sense of humor. We were a royal pain in the ass. We made people call us "Ms." and "Chairperson" and "female persons".

In politics, I was one of the angry female persons who took delight in telling old pols that they couldn't be delegates to the 1972 Democratic National Convention because of a new thing called gender balance. I revelled in telling some fat cigar chomping asshole who'd been imbedded in his state's delegation since the turn of the century that if he wanted to see his name on the ballot he better run his wife.

And now the second person in line to succeed the President was Senator Nancy Pelosi. Right on sister! Right on sisters!

I tried to pay attention to President Bush but my mind wandered. The next thing I noticed was Nancy standing up to applaud the President when he said that all children should have health care. Everyone in the room followed suit and the President received his first standing ovation.

Once everyone was seated the President continued and my eyes wandered to the other person seated behind Mr. Bush. My jaw dropped. Dick Cheney was sitting there chewing gum. That sneering sidewinder was chewing his bloody cud!

There were several more standing "O"s for the Prez but I must confess that my mind kept wandering. I tuned back in on renewable energy. Health care reform. Step up oil production. Double the capacity of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. A nice mix of red and blue issues, but no surprises.

"Global climate change." He said the words: "serious challenge of global climate change." Now that IS something new -- coming out of this man's mouth.

He moved on to the global war on terror and I glazed over again. Then Cheney started clapping enthusiastically, Nancy clapped obligingly and stood up for the words, "take the fight to the enemy."

When Bush said, "finding the terrorists and stopping them", Nancy beat Dick to her feet (and I do wish I meant that literally). Then came the litany: Shia and Sunni extremists, Iran, Hezbollah, Al Quaeda, bin Laden... Pretty soon the standing ovations showed a sharp division of the house. Fully one half of the room was standing and one half was sitting, right down to Dick and Nancy: him standing, her sitting.

Everyone stood when it came to supporting our toops.

I stood too. Since I was up, I decided to run through my Kung Fu routine. In solidarity with the troops, as it were. Doing my part in that well-regulated militia we've heard so much about. Earn my right to bare arms. I did my workout until I was shaking from exertion and sat back down.

We moved on to the New American Hero, Wesley Autrey, who threw himself under a New York subway train to protect a man who'd fallen onto the tracks during a seizure. I have to admit I'm moved by this man. I've seen him before -- on Letterman and in the news -- and he is a humble and courageous man. I love the way he speaks. We need more like him.

After the Address the talking heads began. I was watching ABC. George Will or Charles Gibson talked about "strengthening the Republican brand". God, that's so 2007. The only new thing was the health-care-for-all theme. Comments were made about the "sad echoes" of previous State of the Union addresses, also about the global war on terror, Al Quaeda, bin Laden, Zarqawi. I eventually hit the mute button and returned to my computer.

My back muscles were aching from the Kung Fu but I had done my duty and watched the President of the United States give his big speech. And I watched history unfold as women take their rightful place at the helm. Whether we make the differences we have always believed we would make is yet to be seen.

I have hope.

There is always hope.