Tuesday, January 23, 2007
The President's hand signing autographs as he maintains eye contact with politicians crowding the aisle. Someone giving John Kerry a soulful low five as he rushes out at the end of the President's speech. Barack Obama lifting his right eyebrow with his index and middle finger to the side of his temple, with Hillary Clinton staring impassively behind him in her new golden hairdo. John McCain looking tired and old, his face asymmetrical. Samuel Alito looking like he still isn't sure how he ended up there. Dick Cheney surveying the People's representatives like a study hall proctor looking to bust kids for passing notes or chatting. At the teleprompter's command, Bush instructs us, and the cameras of every network, to lift our eyes to the gallery, where the First Lady is surrounded by specially invited heroes: Dikembe Mutombo, the Baby Einstein woman, a Marine, and New York City's subway hero, who blows kisses and sends a message of love to the Senators from Iowa and Congressmen from South Carolina turned to smile up at him, applause, the ceiling of the Congressional chamber looking too close, Alberto Gonzalez watching in a safe place somewhere far away for government continuity purposes, and Jim Webb figuring out how to cross his legs before the red light over the gleaming black camera lens goes on. Al Gore sits on a plane over Michigan, reading Milton in the narrow beam of a reading light, the Great Lakes profound and dark beneath him. No one introduces the soldier in the gallery with a ragged pink scar where his right eye should be. Colin Powell roots around his fridge for a Diet Coke.