Distant, standoffish, that’s how Barack Obama is often described. Not true. He doesn’t bawl or scream but why does that make him unemotional? Did you see the way he hugged Gabby last night before the State of the Union address?
As I keep saying — over and over — Barack is a very decent guy. C’mon, many of you have heard how I walked down the street with him after his electrifying speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention in Boston. He giggled when I asked if he was going to run for president; he hadn’t been elected senator yet.
Nearly eight years later, now president, Barack Obama scored with his third State of the Union address. In a CBS poll released today his proposals got a 91 percent approval rating. Unheard of! Was I totally satisfied with his speech? Absolutely not.
Strangely enough, my favorite part was the ending when the president brilliantly evoked the Navy Seals on their dangerous mission to snuff out Osama bin Laden. Instead of using a patriotism cliche Obama described what it must have been like climbing the stairs in bin Laden’s compound — the dark, the danger, trusting that the guys behind you “had your backs.”
Republicans don’t have the backs of the American people. Campaigning in Florida today, Mitt Romney actually said, “Now, the banks aren’t bad people. They’re scared to death right now like you.” Last time I looked banks are made of concrete and steel; they’re buildings, not people. Who’s cold and distant?
Obama hasn’t screamed, said anything wacky, or called anyone who doesn’t agree with him nasty names. He’s a lot like Gabby, who wrote in her resignation letter, “Always I fought for what I thought was right. But never did I question the character of those with whom I disagreed. Never did I let pass an opportunity to join hands with someone just because he or she held different ideals.”
Then there’s Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer…but that’s a different story. I’d prefer to think of Gabby’s “hope that our government can represent the best of a nation, not the worst.”
I’ll remember Barack and Gabby on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives last night, doing their little hugging dance, both of them smiling — their warmth, kindness and dignity shining through.