Jan. 28, 2010
OK. Ill admit it. I skipped the Presidents State of the Union Address last night. Its not the first time Ive done that. Since I have to be up before five to get to the pool on time, I decided not to lose sleep over Barack Obama. And, with the wonders of technology, I knew I could get it all online. Which I did, over a strong cup of morning coffee.
I managed to see Justice Alito mouthing the wordssimply not true when the President totally mischaracterized the Supreme Courts latest ruling on free speech and campaign finance. Alito was so right. His silent dissent thundered through the House Chamber. If this President is going to make a charade of the State of the Union, there are obviously others skilled at the game of charades, too. How proud I am that I worked to get him confirmed.
Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) could have used a cup of coffee last night. Whats this business of yawning through the Expected Ones shining moment? Is Sen. Reid trying to get himself replaced? I would like to have seen Sen. Reid in an ambush interview in the corridors right after the Address. Sen. Reid: Do you think we should be taxed to provide civilian lawyers for Abdulmutallab and the 9/11 killers? It should be most interesting to see how Reids colleagues respond to Sen. Lindsay Grahams (R-S.C.) amendment to deny any federal funds for civilian trials for terrorists. My guess is theyll run like scalded dogs from that one.
Last night carried me back more than twenty years. My wife and I had a family tradition once wed put our kids to bed. After a shower and shampoo, Kate would settle in to a comfortable chair in front of the fireplace. Together, wed watch President Reagan. One mishap occurred, however, as Kate stroked the family cat that was nestling peacefully in her lap.
When I heard Ronald Reagan appeal for the lives of unborn childrenin those most dignified, most august surroundingsI let out a whoop! It was like a Super Bowl touchdown. But Grindl the Cat was startled and jumped up, scratching my beloveds arm in the process. Grindl drew blood. Kate was mad at me. She said Id overreacted. Why cant you just watch the speech and not react like a crazy man, she demanded as she raced to disinfect the wound. I felt terrible. I begged her to forgive me. Soon she did.
That was 1987. Next year, 25 January 1988, Kate, Grindl, and I watched the State of the Union Address once more. Once again, Ronald Reagan spoke about the right to life. Heres what he said:
Well now, we come to a family issue that we must have the courage to confront. Tonight, I call America--a good nation, a moral people--to charitable but realistic consideration of the terrible cost of abortion on demand. To those who say this violates a woman's right to control of her own body--can they deny that now medical evidence confirms the unborn child is a living human being entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Let us unite as a nation and protect the unborn with legislation that would stop all federal funding for abortion--and with a human life amendment making, of course, an exception where the unborn child threatens the life of the mother. Our Judeo-Christian tradition recognizes the right of taking a life in self-defense.
But with that one exception, let us look to those others in our land who cry out for children to adopt. I pledge to you tonight, I will work to remove barriers to adoption and extend full sharing in family life to millions of Americans, so that children who need homes can be welcomed to families who want them and love them.
Ronald Reagan did not consider the fate of millions yet unbornthat beautiful phrase used by George Washington and all our best Presidents sincebeneath his notice, outside the realm of those Americans for whom he felt responsible. Reagan knew there could be no discussion of the State of the Union without recognizing that sacred union of the living, the dead, and the yet unborn.
On hearing the President of the United States pronounce these words, I jumped up. YES, I yelled! Ra-a-a-oo-rr said Grindl, once again taking fright. And once again scratching my dear Kates arm! This time I was really in trouble. Poor Kate was bleeding and I was the cause.
It took a day or two and some flowers for me to make amends for that one. It didnt help when I tried to explain that her brother jumps up and down when Washingtons Huskies score. Its a man thing. Sometimes, we just cant control ourselves. And besides, I said, The marriage counselor would probably tell you to leave the cat in the basement during the State of the Union Address. Oooh! Bad thing to say when youre long-suffering wife is long suffering.
Well, Grindl the Cat is gone. We found his ashes last summer, neatly boxed and packed away in our basement, nine years after the movers placed them there. We gave his remains a proper burial in the back yard.
Ronald Reagan is long gone, too. And so are his moving appeals in the State of the Union Address for the lives of millions yet unborn. We have not heard such eloquence since 1988. I have not cheered a State of the Union Address since then, either. Isnt it time to cheer again?