Watching the SOTU Speech on ABC


Did they really need to drag World News anchor Charles Gibson all the way down from New York just to do a stand-up intro with the Capitol dome over his shoulder? George Stephanopoulos and Martha Raddatz were in separate locations, so it wasn't as though he was joining them in the studio. Having just visited the slushy and dreary capital yesterday, I feel for him.

Maybe standing outside in the cold is what led Gibson to fall into what by now should be an eminently avoidable journalistic trap–remarking on the wardrobe of a female newsmaker.

As he and his colleagues noted the historic significance of Rep. Nancy Pelosi's presence on the dais as the first woman speaker of the House, Gibson said that he and Stephanopoulos had shared a laugh earlier about whether she and Vice President Cheney would coordinate their outfits. I haven't checked the transcripts from years past, but I'm quite certain Gibson–or any of his colleagues–never joked about Dennis Hastert conferring with Cheney about tie patterns. (And I'll bet Katie Couric had the sense to avoid it, having been the subject of much sartorial scrutiny herself.)

What was worth commenting on, however, was the contrast in blinks per minute between Pelosi and Cheney. While Pelosi clocked a good 25-30 blinks per minute, Cheney barely mustered 3 or 4. If energy conservation is a personal virtue—as he once said so dismissively—Cheney is a saint. The man functions admirably on standby power.

The only thing that seemed to get him going was when the president urged Americans to reduce gasoline usage by 20% in the next decade, cut imports from the Middle East and pursue alternative energy sources. Suddenly, Cheney’s smirking like it’s all he can do not to burst out laughing.

By Joel Topcik