President Obama’s State of the Union Address on Tuesday night was yet another ritual slaughtering of straw men arrayed under the fluttering banners of mythical enemy kingdoms. By now it has become clear that President Obama approaches governing the way a Dungeons and Dragons player approaches his basement. Leaving the difficult challenges of real life behind for others to face, he slips into his fantasy world, dons his imaginary armor, and does a vigorous battle with the great monsters invented by more fertile minds of yore.
The President views his political opponents not as well-meaning Americans with whom he is constitutionally bound to work. He views them as enemies to be defeated. And if they cannot be defeated, he will wave his magic wand — or as he called it Tuesday night, his pen — and remake the world as he imagines it should be. Reality becomes merely another dragon for the hero to slay.
After he played this role for an hour, he descended the field of battle and strode through the adoring crowd. There, grateful common folk showered him with praise and kisses. Among them was Rep. Annie Kuster of New Hampshire’s 2nd District, who reached out to the conquering hero, cupped his face in her hands, and kissed him warmly on the cheek. A hero’s welcome.
Experienced politicians that they are, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter kept their distance from the knight in tarnished armor on Tuesday night. After the speech, both issued tepid statements expressing hope that bipartisan solutions to America’s problems will be found, but carefully refraining from praising the President or his speech in any way. Not so Annie Kuster.
In a five-paragraph statement, she applauded the President for advocating a minimum wage increase and praised his agenda for economic recovery. She also hit the bipartisan note, but in the greater context of supporting the President’s economic agenda.
Politically, Kuster’s whole-hearted embrace of Obama is unwise. His approval rating in New Hampshire is in the low 40s, and Kuster herself is not polling well. But kudos to her for ignoring the polls and sticking to her convictions. She might go down with the ship while kissing the captain, but there is a certain charming romance to the gesture.