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#319 – Dick Bernard: “Watching” the State of the Union

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

I “watched” the State of the Union address in its entirety last night. The word is in quotes, because, while I sat in front of the TV, I mostly watched with my eyes closed.

In other words, I listened, like one would be forced to listen in pre-television and instant analysis days which in historical terms are really very recent.

I didn’t stick around for the responses of Reps Ryan and Bachmann. In historical terms, such responses are really very recent.

I have my own e-mailing list, and when I awoke this morning sent out the four overnight analyses received on internet, the first from the President himself, and advised readers that from this point out I’d send out only their own personal commentaries. The punditry and political ‘blab’ will be interminable and predictable. Talking heads, talking.

Nothing is left to chance in today’s management of news and images. Every single person sitting in the House Chamber last night knew that they were potentially on-camera every second. Their focus was likely not really listening either. Rather it was to have the appropriate stage-look: enthusiastic, bored, angry…. “You lie” was out this year, and good riddance. Rep. Gabby Giffords empty chair spoke volumes without saying a thing.

Personally, I thought the speech was very good, but that’s simply personal opinion. I’m a strong supporter of this President.

The President’s “Sputnik” comment really resonated with me: I was a Senior in high school when Sputnik launched in October, 1957, and in those years we occasionally watched Communism blink over Capitalism in the clear night sky of North Dakota: in those years, the newspaper published where and when to watch for the blink as Sputnik tumbled, reflecting light from the sun. I wish I would have kept one of those Fargo Forums including a tracking map.

I hadn’t cleared my Freshman year in college when Castro took over Cuba in 1959, and I was a Junior in college when John F. Kennedy was elected U.S. President in 1960; and in the Army during the Cuban Missile Crisis of October, 1962. I saw the transition from then history to newer history, ‘boots on the ground’.

All of that was then. Back then, the war was over ideology; today, I believe, the War is over how or whether the generations which follow mine will survive or thrive. 1957-58, even with the much-played Red Menace of the Soviet Union, was a really simple time compared to today. We couldn’t imagine, then, even the possibility of running out of things, like oil; or other things, like the internet which has already been so much a force for good…and, yes, evil.

Now the debate begins about the future.

Frankly, I have zero interest in what the pundits say, or who the politicians blame.

I will focus on two quotations, one of Margaret Mead, the other of Gandhi, which “frame” the home page of my website which acknowledges the contributions of two of my personal heroes, Lynn Elling and Prof. Joe Schwartzberg.

Our future is NOT a spectator sport.

Either we’re on the Court helping to constructively fashion the solutions for our future in small or large ways, or we have no right to complain about the results.