Although I groan at the idea of spending more money on some sort of competitiveness program to supposedly improve education (ditto ethanol spending!), I agree with Powerline and Hugh Hewitt that it was basically a pretty good speech.

 Actually, Hewitt thought it was a “great speech” and cited this as the key paragraph:

“It is said that prior to the attacks of September 11th, our government failed to connect the dots of the conspiracy. We now know that two of the hijackers in the United States placed telephone calls to al-Qaida operatives overseas. But we did not know about their plans until it was too late. So to prevent another attack based on authority given to me by the Constitution and by statute I have authorized a terrorist surveillance program to aggressively pursue the international communications of suspected al-Qaida operatives and affiliates to and from America. Previous presidents have used the same constitutional authority I have and Federal courts have approved the use of that authority. Appropriate Members of Congress have been kept informed. This terrorist surveillance program has helped prevent terrorist attacks. It remains essential to the security of America. If there are people inside our country who are talking with al-Qaida, we want to know about it because we will not sit back and wait to be hit again.”

This brought a standing ovation from Republicans and (in Hewitt’s words) a “tight and disapproving smile” from Hillary Clinton, who all in all had a bad night. In addition to her tight smile, there was her condescending smile caught on TV-she was unable to look gracious when Bush essayed a little joke about his father’s favorite people-the president and former President Bill Clinton-turning 60 this year. I became more convinced last night that she can’t handle a national campaign in her own behalf.

There was one moment in the speech that reminded you that George W. Bush, for all his great qualities, is not The Gipper. John Miller of National Review captured this non-Gipper moment:

“Worst line: ‘Congress did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security…’ It gave the Democrats an opening to applaud this failure. And rather than using this interruption as an opportunity to chide their irresponsibility, the president continued with only the vaguest of warnings (‘yet the rising cost of entitlements is a problem that is not going away’) and then called for a commission. Lame, lame, lame.”

Hill Democrats seem to know that they are so radioactive that they selected the newly-elected Governor of Virginia to deliver the rebuttal. His theme: I am not a Hill Democrat.  Commenting on the guv’s performance, Kathryn Jean Lopez said: “If eyebrows were taxes, he would raise both of them.”

I was glad the president refrained from mentioning everybody sitting with the First Lady-he mentioned a military family which stood for a gracious ovation-but I did like seeing Sgt. Dana and her well-behaved dog Rex sitting near Laura.

The most talked-about guest of the evening was Cindy Sheehan, who managed to get herself arrested before the speech began. She was in a balcony wearing a protest T-shirt, which is against the rules (rules aren’t Cindy’s strong point). California Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, had given Ms. Sheehan her only guest pass. It’s acts like this that have rendered the Democrats on the Hill so out of the mainstream that Gov. Eyebrows had to deliver their rebuttal.