The best moment during the commentary after President Barack Obama's State Of The Union speech last night was during an exchange on the Larry King Show between Hill Harper and two Republican political strategists. Larry King had opened the door for the GOP operatives with a softball question -- what did they think about the president's message? The two practically began talking over each other, they were so intent on getting their standard talking points across, as if they got paid for every negative phrase they said on the air.
Harper, who was live in the studio, reared back in his chair, raised his eyebrows and pursed his lips, as if he were saying "are you finished yet?" with his eyes. When King turned to Harper for a response, Harper looked coolly into the camera and asked the two, "if you don't like what the president is saying, what are your solutions?"
The twosome responded by continuing their original line of attack.
The more they talked, the more ridiculous they looked, until even Larry King had to break in and ask them if they were going to answer the question.
I don't know why the PEOPLE ON TV WHO GET PAID BIG BUCKS TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT POLITICS are so concerned with counting the number of times a word like "jobs" or a phrase like "the economy" was used. You would think they are ESPN sports analysts who are about to tell you "he broke the single term record for most pregnant pauses in a speech" or something else just as stupid. The most eloquently delivered, most carefully prepared speech in the world doesn't mean jack shit if there is no one or no way to implement it.
Since we're on sports analogies, I've got one I use whenever I talk to someone about my hometown Falcons and their on-field woes -- "instead of trading the players, what we need to do is trade the owners".
The room was electric last night, with all eyes on the man of the hour. Obama worked the microphone like owned the room. He was conversational. He was professorial. He was confessional. He was charming, and roguish, and Father Knows Best, sometimes in the same sentence.
And all I heard about for the next two hours was the same old bullshit analysis from the same old people, as if the dramatic effect of the president acting large and in charge for a change didn't mean a damn thing.
A really really really big part of our problem in this country is the people who tell the story of what happened, what is happening, and what should happen next. We are back to the narrative I am obsessed with this year, not because I'm a writer, but because it is the perspective of this narrative that determines in large part what we are willing to believe and why we may be willing to take action.
Hill Harper is out there every day, helping in his own way to reshape the narrative that binds us all.
Thank you, Mr. Harper, for bringing a little sanity last night into what was otherwise a total waste of political analysis.