Final Examination

I've got my final exam today in my Presidency class. I've still got some cramming to do today at work, I need to read through a few more chapters of The American President, and then just relax before my test.  I'm not someone who does well if I cram right up until the last minute, I tend to stuff information into my head until about an hour before the test, then I just relax, and go with the flow.

The test is mostly essay, so I'll do okay.  I think a great question would be:

100 points: Completely explain this year's Presidential election:

That one would separate the men from the boys, so to speak...

I watched Gore and Bush speak last night.  Gore's address was top-notch, a finely crafted and honest concession.  I did get a bit tired of hearing the stuff about "coming together as Americans", but I know it was important that he said it.  I watched the speech on NBC, and I swear that the correspondant who has been covering the Gore campaign for the last year and a half had tears in her eyes when Brokaw asked her for her reaction.  Tim Russert pointed out that he congratulated Bush on "becoming President", that is, he didn't say "being elected President".  I find that very amusing.  I think there's a very good chance that we'll see Al back for more in 2004, and if he can polish his style so he comes across as well as he did last night, he'll be the 44th President.

I was prepared to enjoy Bush's speech as well.  I found myself actually wanting him to do well, to appear "Presidential" and to appear as a leader.  Unfortunately, I thought that Bush's speech was average at best.  It seemed to be much of a recycled campaign speech, and he didn't seem to have any real emotional investment in what he was saying.  Perhaps it is just me, but when I've heard Bush speak, I have never gotten the impression that he understands what he is saying, he just gets up on the podium and spouts catch phrases until people applaud.  I think of Bush's speeches as something like this:

"And I promise to [buzzword] this [catchphrase] to better all Americans, because only by [buzzwording] our [buzzwords] can we [catchphrase] for a better tomorrow. I'm a [buzzword] and I believe in [catchphrasing].  We need to [catchphrase] our [buzzwords] together and begin the [catchphrasing] of this nation." 

It's like he's speaking with "finger quotes" around every other sentence, it reminds me of an old Chris Farley routine on Saturday Night Live...

And last night's speech was just that, a bunch of recycled catch phrases from the campaign.  I would have rather heard something new, something that would give me a little more hope for the future, and something original and fresh, after two years of the same rhetoric.

As I read over the transcript of the speech, it reads much better than it was delivered.  It will be interesting to see how Bush does on his feet, I don't think I've ever seen him seriously grilled, with the possible exception of his appearance on the Dave Letterman show.  I've watched Clinton's press conferences, say what you like about Clinton, but the guy thinks extremely well on his feet, and he's comfortable fielding all sorts of questions without preparation.  I don't get that sense from Bush.

Okay, I'm done with the election now, I promise.  I'll try to shut up about it, and eventually we'll all forget about it, and go on with the rest of our lives...