I actually felt a little sorry for President Obama as he delivered his State of the Union message this week.
It was kind of like watching a prizefighter that had long since lost his stuff, but had signed on for another bout anyway.
As he shuffled to the center of the ring and took the obligatory applause from a Congress that he's never tried to work with, one couldn't help but wonder what it might have been had he taken his once electrifying charisma and freshness and actually tried to govern the country instead of trying to change it into a miniature version of Europe.
Most State of the Union addresses are marked with the president trying to rally the country with hope and optimism and at least one big idea to challenge the American imagination. It's typically a dish served hot and spicy, like fresh New Orleans gumbo. Well, the president, in this case, dropped a bowl of overcooked grits on the table -- grits without shrimp, cheese, or even butter, salt and pepper. Bland pabulum; soft food for people without teeth or taste who just need some empty calories to maintain a pulse.
The speech was so lacking in vision or ideas that Mark Theissen, a former George W. Bush speechwriter, noted that President Obama had lifted several phrases directly from President Bush's 2007 State of the Union speech.
That says it all. President Obama once mocked everything George Bush said; now he's reduced to plagiarizing it just to fill the gaps in his ever shrinking legacy.
His one new idea was one with which he - well, it seemed he was so -- just so unfamiliar that he stumbled over it like an old man would stumble on a downhill cobblestone street. That was one for his proposal for something called a MIRA -- more letters in the governmental alphabet soup for something about having the federal government help individuals set up a retirement account.
I was actually was ready for him to promise us, "If you like your nest egg, you can keep your nest egg."
One had to wonder, if this was his version of the conservative concept of allowing Americans to have more personal empowerment in how they plan for retirement?
Surely he wouldn't propose something that would entrust decisions to mere citizens! Surely, he knows how popular government run health care is, how much we trust him to get to the bottom of the IRS scandal in which this behemoth federal crime syndicate uses its power to punish enemies of the administration, or how much we believe that the murder of four Americans in Benghazi was because some Muslim extremists got lathered up over a six minute YouTube video and happened upon some rocket propelled grenades that weren't being used for anything in particular and decided to overrun a State Department outpost; and how even though the government is harvesting massive amounts of data on our phone calls and e-mails, we can trust that they would never use that information for anything other than honorable means, even though that very government lied to Congress about its existence until exposed by a 20-something computer geek who was working for an outside contractor.
So considering all the trust that he has endeared with America, why didn't he go for the big punch?
Well, because he's out of gas, that's why.
It was the least watched State of the Union since 2000, and that's with all the networks and cable news channels airing it live. The fact is, more people tuned in to see NBC's reality show, "The Biggest Loser" - that was the lead in to his speech.
Maybe people thought it was the theme of the speech.
Other than the wonderful moment in which he presented an honest to God American hero, a wounded warrior -- Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg sitting in the balcony -- I couldn't help but think, "There's an hour and half of my life I can never get back."