I thought President Obama's State of the Union speech was rock solid and superbly delivered.
I was surprised, therefore, when I heard the speech criticized by both liberal and conservative friends, who found fault with the substance.
None criticized the delivery. However, the president's presentation the following day at the Republican Party's conclave in Baltimore was perceived even by his critics as a tour de force, reflecting an incredible breadth of knowledge.
President Obama is a natural when it comes to public speaking. He uses a conversational tone even at the State of the Union. He conveys that he is talking to you and you alone, asking that you take a walk in the park with him, listen to him as a friend, and provide him with your support and advice.
Most important, there is nothing pedantic about him. He appears humble and occasionally, but always appropriately, funny.
At the State of the Union, the president missed one opportunity. Sitting in the gallery with first lady Michelle Obama, who now rivals Jackie Kennedy in cult status, were two police officers: one, white and female, the other African-American and male.
They were the two officers who at the Fort Hood massacre perpetrated by the Islamist terrorist and American traitor, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, who killed 13 fellow American soldiers and injured 30 others, ran to interdict and capture him.
Sgt. Kimberly Munley, who was first on the scene, was herself shot by Hasan. and Senior Sgt. Mark Todd, who followed, was able to shoot Hasan and bring him down.
Now to my observation. The president did not introduce these two heroes.
Had he at the end of his speech turned to the audience in the chamber and those watching on television and said, "Let us close these proceedings by recognizing our two heroes, Sgt. Kimberly Munley and Senior Sgt. Mark Todd, who saved the lives of American soldiers at Ft. Hood," there would have been unanimous and extended applause from both sides of the aisle, and from ocean to ocean.
There are those who will say that it would have been inappropriate for the president to comment on the guilt or innocence of anyone, including Major Hasan. Baloney.
The presumption of innocence is often misunderstood by those raising it. That presumption applies only in the courtroom, where the government has to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
It does not apply in the court of public opinion. I hope some enterprising reporter asks the president why he did not publicly identify the Fort Hood heroes.
The president's triumphant appearance before the Republicans at their event was reminiscent of the British Questions Time where, on regularly stated occasions, the British prime minister answers questions from members of the House of Commons on both sides of the aisle.
The questions are submitted in advance so that the prime minister can prepare his response based on the facts as the government believes them to be.
When I was a member of the city council in 1966 through 1968, I proposed to the Lindsay administration that it adopt Questions Time as a city council procedure. My then law partner, John Lankanau, suggested I do so.
The Lindsey administration declined. Years later, when I became mayor, I should have sought to achieve that same goal. Why I did not, I can't explain.
I probably wanted to avoid any embarrassment. I know I would have enjoyed it, and I'm not half the skilled debater that President Obama is.
In any event, my advice to him now is to propose to either the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, or to the majority leader of the Senate, or both, that they explore with the president the possibility of adding Questions Time to the legislative process.
I have no doubt a huge audience will tune in. I certainly will.
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