What if it had not been George W. Bush giving the SOTU last night?

Would there have been the confidence, the steadfastness and the optimism?  Bush was obviously enjoying himself, and the riverboat gambler who never wavered on elections in Iraq deserved this shining moment. (Would the elections even have taken place yet if Bush had lost?)

Here?s some commentary: David Frum says last night was “Bush at His Best,” Max Boot (his piece is on RCP) says Bush “Talks Big, and He Delivers,” and Powerline has the picture of the evening: Laura Bush applauding while Iraqi voter (she had the purple finger to prove it, and she held it up for the world to see) Safia Taleb al-Souhail embracing Janet Norwood, whose son, Marine Corps Sergeant Byron Norwood of Pflugerville, Texas, died to make that vote a reality. Sargeant Norwood died in Fallujah.

The Manchurian Responders: Two words for Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Harry Reid, who delivered the Democrats? response to the SOTU: media training. They were robotic.

Reid started off with an anecdote intended to be folksy: a young man in Searchlight, Nevada, who approached the senator in a restaurant, told Reid, “I want to be just like you.” Reid said this was “dreaming big.”

But the problem is that Reid and Pelosi went deeper than having taken speaking lessons from the Addams family: they were thinking small. Bush?s sunny optimism trumped their sourness.

The Democrats did something stupid — they shouted out when the president said that the Social Security system will be bankrupt by a certain year. No, no, say the Democrats — it won?t be *bankrupt*, it?ll still be able to pay 75 percent of estimated benefits then. So, you see, there?s no problemo. 

Meanwhile, maverick liberal and Social Security expert Mickey Kaus gave Bush “big points” “for discussing how to fix the system with a series of possible Social Security benefit cuts (including means-testing!) before even mentioning his prized personal accounts.” (Kaus found the speech “not exciting” but “effective” and is funny on Timesman Todd Purdom?s reporting on the speech.)