The Blog

Best and Worst
of SOTU '06

Putting the trivial back into politics.

9:38 PM, Jan 31, 2006 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
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LET US FIRST praise Hilary Clinton. Whatever her other faults may be, she always shows up to the State of the Union dressed like a professional. She's wearing a stylish gray suit tonight. Most of our devoted congresswomen look like they got lost on the way to a Texas Tech rally. On to the list:

Worst sour-puss: Charlie Rangel sitting motionless as Bush says, "The United States will not retreat from the world, and we will never surrender to evil."

Worst Euphemism: "the traditions of their own citizens"

Worst camera cut: "If there are people inside our country who are talking with al Qaeda, we want to know about it--because we will not sit back and wait to be hit again." At which point Hillary Clinton smiled and slowly shook her head from side to side.

Worst dose of GOP castor oil: "We hear claims that immigrants are somehow bad for the economy--even though this economy could not function without them."

Worst band-aid on an axe-wound: Cutting 140 whole federal programs . . .

Worst attempt at gender-gap pandering: Why is it that the doctors we need to protect from trial lawyers are always OB-GYNs? Do oncologists not focus-group well?

Worst Clinton (Bill) nostalgia: Ah, the line-item veto.

Worst Leonard Nimoy impression: Tim Kaine's permanently-arched left eyebrow

Best call-out since the "Axis of Evil": "There is a difference between responsible criticism that aims for success, and defeatism that refuses to acknowledge anything but failure. Hindsight alone is not wisdom. And second-guessing is not a strategy."

Best channeling of Peggy Noonan: "Far from being a hopeless dream, the advance of freedom is the great story of our time. In 1945, there were about two dozen lonely democracies on Earth. Today, there are 122. And we are writing a new chapter in the story of self-government--with women lining up to vote in Afghanistan . . . and millions of Iraqis marking their liberty with purple ink . . . and men and women from Lebanon to Egypt debating the rights of individuals and the necessity of freedom. At the start of 2006, more than half the people of our world live in democratic nations. And we do not forget the other half--in places like Syria, Burma, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Iran--because the demands of justice, and the peace of this world, require their freedom as well."

Best Will Farrell flashback: "out-compete"

Best I'm-not-the-one-running-in-November threat: "The tax relief is set to expire in the next few years. If we do nothing, American families will face a massive tax increase they do not expect and will not welcome."

Best received idea at Brookings: A blue ribbon commission to reform Social Security! Plenary sessions!

Best Howard Dean moment: Democrats erupting in applause when the president began a sentence saying, "Congress did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security . . ."

Best words: Marine Staff Sergeant Dan Clay: "I know what honor is. It has been an honor to protect and serve all of you. I faced death with the secure knowledge that you would not have to. . . . Never falter! Don't hesitate to honor and support those of us who have the honor of protecting that which is worth protecting."

Jonathan V. Last is online editor of The Weekly Standard and a weekly op-ed contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer.