Watched Bush’s State of the Union address outside in the J-School courtyard during a faculty mixer, huddled around the tube with 30 or so journalism profs. A lot of seemingly liberal words coming from his mouth — commitment to hydrogen fuel cells, AIDS assistance in Africa, support for drug addicts domestically… was this the Bush we know talking? As if he was reaching hard to pull himself back toward the center after two years of extremism, trying hard to build emergency support in response to rapidly slipping popularity…. give us a shadow of the Gore we never got? Who knows. All to soften the blow for the war drums to come… But his speech was eloquent, no doubt, except for hilarious consistent use of “nucular.”
Then down to Zellerbach Hall for the big debate. Packed hall, overflow crowds. Unfortunately, the we thought dove (Danner) was a bit soft with his arguments, while the hawk (Hitchens) was kind of arrogant and convoluted, talking way over his time, using 3x more words than necessary to express any given thought. Both brilliant, but neither of them really impressed or illuminated the issues in any significant way.
My big takeaway from the evening was Danner’s point that Iraq is already under containment – occupied by an inspections regime, living under a U.S.-controlled no-fly zone, reeling from years of sanctions, and basically powerless with the world’s eyes on them.
Between Bush’s speech and the debate, we came home with lots to chew on. Things don’t seem quite as clear-cut to me as they did a few days ago. Good. I’m being challenged.
We brought Miles to the debate, which was interesting. He made it through without crying, but you have to put a lot of energy into a baby to keep him calm in an environment like that. Kind of distracting.
Update: Salon.com reviews the debate here.