Wednesday, March 24, 2010

state of the union

On the podium the president offers up preposterously grandiose assurances of protection, provision, and moral guidance from his government, these declarations of benevolent omnipotence punctuated by standing ovations and cheers from legislators after each declarative clause.

Included in the audience in recent years have been citizens, or foreign visitors, who represent some quality the president will call on us to admire and emulate--selflessness, achievement, or support for U.S. ideals abroad. (The model citizens in these displays are known collectively as "Lenny Skutniks" after the first of them, showcased during President Reagan's 1982 address. Skutnik had performed a heroic rescue in January that year when a plane crashed in the Potomac River. You even hear political wonks use this as a verb: "Karzai's going to be Lenny Skutniked this year...")
--John Derbyshire

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