Living just outside of Washington DC puts me in a special place to watch tonight's State of the Union address. Just miles south from here, deep in the heart of Capitol Hill, President George Bush lights his speech in unusually clear words from a podium surrounded by all the top government officials that the United States can muster. Republicans (many), Democrats (fewer), Supreme Court judges, senators, special diplomats, cabinet members, and others more privileged respond to the president's words in applause, rises from the bench, silent disdain, furtive glances, and various other postures marking the volleys. Talk of war and terror, foreign policy, economy, and other topics that fill cafes and public spaces are the paint by which George Bush sprays his canvas. In the moment, there is surrounding silence, clarity of spirit, and resounding focus on this one moment that places politics at the center of primetime television and living rooms.
There is not agreement in this moment, however. Scanning the crowded quorum shows shaking heads, smirks, mischievous smiles, forced clapping, and other forms of resistance. There are many listening - some with open ears - and many more thinking about the outcomes of promises and comments littered near the podium floor. From that point, the debate continues once the Capitol Building falls silent and all the politicans go home. At that point, the state of the union will find its true state, wandering the streets of cities festering with people who make this country home.