I taped it and watched the whole thing. Really.
My general impression is this: in five years, with the nearly unlimited resources of the White House and the RNC, and the efforts of who knows how many highly paid consultants, we have finally reached the point where, given enough practice, George W. Bush can be made to sound like the lieutenant governor of one of our least populous Western states giving a welcoming speech to a bunch of trade association conventioneers. "We've got a real fine breakfast spread set up next door. They'll make waffles for ya. And we'd be grateful if you take the time to look over our brochure."
Not to belittle the accomplishment. On the contrary, it's little short of miraculous. Going back to the first campaign, it's been six years of watching a George W. Bush who was obviously only comfortable when surrounded by people who were required to pretend, because of his money and/or power, that they weren't listening to a lazy, dim-bulb son of privilege. And now he's comfortable presenting that image to the world at large, at least in a prepared speech. It was my first sustained look at the "real guy you'd like to have a beer with" I could never figure out people claiming to see. Tonight, there he was. A real guy you'd like to have a beer with, assuming that category includes for you some out-of-town Jaycee in a hotel bar who after the fourth one will ask you where the "real action" is in town, about the time you notice he swiped the tip you just left.
Substance? Well, the substance of the speech seems to be "Please make my poll numbers go back up. Please? I'll be your friend." Though for the life of me I can't figure out why. Iraq has already sunk him. Katrina, whatever he does, is not going to refloat his presidency. You'd think by now the man was used to walking away from total failures. Mr. President, your party controls both houses of Congress. You're going to hand them a couple hundred billion more in debt...in the fall session before an election year...full of handouts to the same people they've been blaming for getting into the disaster in the first place? Am I missing something?
Anyway, here's the funny thing, and by that I mean the thing that generated the same maniacal laugh you'd use on a cliff as you went over it, at a high rate of speed: the Republican party ran against the New Deal for 70 years. Once they came into complete control of government they had no idea what to do with it, except for petty theft and making sure kids were forced to say the Plejullegance every morning. Then when a real disaster strikes, the nominal leader of that party turns into a tenth-rate FDR impressionist, except they've got nobody to ask for the money. Ha, ha, ha, aiiiiiiyyeeeeeeeeee....
Oh, I almost forgot the best part. We're gonna house all the displaced persons working to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina in mobile homes! Good god damn, Kafka wouldn't believe this stuff.