state of the union

In case you're completely out of touch with current events, yesterday George Bush gave the State of the Union (SOTU for those who love acronyms) address. I read the speech but didn't watch it. I have spent some time watching and reading fallout from the speech, however, and I have an observation or two.

First, there are a large number of people who will never be happy with what the President does, no matter what he does or what he says. I kept up with a forum where people were commenting on the speech as it went. It was full of comments about how ridiculous what he was saying was, how he sounded stupid, how they thought he delivered that line arrogantly or that other line too wooden. Comments about "AmeriKKKa" and whatnot were rampant. Around the web, wherever you have people talking about the speech, you have people making inane insulting comments toward the President. Seriously, people.

I am not a Bush apologist. I was less "aware" when Clinton was President, but I still thought he got the short end of the stick a fair amount too. Politics seems to bring out the worst in people. Everyone thinks they know better, or they want to "fight the man" and they do so by repeating the talking points of whatever radical organization they last found on the internet. Criticism of the President is fully legitimate, but at least base it in reality people. Or complain about reasonable things.

I've also noticed a lot of people getting worked up about the fact that Cindy Sheehan was removed from the building because she had an anti-war t-shirt on. They talk about how it's proof that the USA has become some sort of Neocon (the new favorite word to describe those nefarious conservatives) Police State, where free speech is no longer allowed. Nevermind the fact that demonstration isn't allowed in the capitol buliding, and that a Republican had his wife removed because she was wearing a pro-war shirt. People just want to criticize the President and they hate his guts, no matter what.

If there's any lesson here, besides an object lesson in the ridiculous nature of politics, it's a lesson on the importance of your perceived integrity and image. If people don't like you, then it won't matter what you say or what you do - they simply will not like you. But if you establish yourself as a likeable, trustworthy person, then you will be given more latitude. Granted, some people will never like you - but it is important if you are an influential person to recognize the importance of not making unnecessary enemies, and to remember that your character cannot be separated from your message. If people think you lack character they will never listen to you and never follow you. If they think you do have character, they will listen to and respect you even if they don't agree with you.

Everyone worth their salt will do the above, at least. There are plenty of people who simply want to rage against the machine and be cool, plenty of "college radicals" who think it's so cutting edge to hate this or that. Plenty of people who won't think things through and simply accept what they're told. Man people like that are annoying when they're so vitriolic and vocal in their hatred. If you're going to disagree with someone or something, fine. But have some integrity about it.

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