I finally got to use the batter-operated emergency radio I bought (along with the duct tape) during our last orange alert. What was the emergency? I used it to listen to President Bush’s address to the nation, or the segment of the nation that has cable, last night. It was a disgrace that the networks didn carry the president’s address.

According to Tom Shales of the WaPo, they decided it wasn’t sufficiently newsworthy. “Perhaps the networks should be faulted for not carrying the speech anyway,” writes Shales in today’s WaPo Style section. “out of deference to the chief executive and leader of the free world.” Not bumped for the president’s speech: “Fear Factor” and “A Beautiful Mind,” the TV rerun of the movie.

Listening to the speech on C-Span radio, though, I was disappointed. The president is probably tired from the constant barrage of bad press, but his speechwriters owed him a better speech. He needed to confront the bad press more directly, and he needed some stirring language. Instead we got bogged down in details — an Iraqi official is talking to WTO officials, or something of that sort, and our embassy in Iraq will have regional offices. Ho hum.

Bush got better towards the end, with some stirring lines about the hard-won ground in Iraq and elections as the antidote to a return of tyranny, but I can imagine many people had gone back to Fear Factor by then. I’m a hawk, and I wanted a speech capable of swaying those who are swayable.