So President Bush has delivered his last State of the Union. And what everyone in the House press gallery is talking about isn't the speech. Rather, it's the snub.
Sen. Barack Obama refused to make himself available to greet Sen. Hillary Clinton before the speech.
When members of the Senate entered the chamber, Obama came in before Clinton. He went out of his way to greet as many House members as possible and walked halfway across the chamber to greet members of the Supreme Court, the president's cabinet, the military joint chiefs.
That made what happened next even more striking. Obama returned to stand by his seat next to Sen. Edward Kennedy who endorsed Obama today in a widely watched event that reverberated across the political world.
As Clinton approached, Kennedy made sure to make eye contact and indicated he wanted to shake her hand. Clinton leaned towards Kennedy over a row of seats and Kennedy leaned in towards her. They shook hands.
Obama stood icily staring at Clinton during this, then turned his back and stepped a few feet away. Kennedy may've wanted to make peace with Clinton but Obama clearly wanted no part of that.
As president, Obama has said he would meet with the U.S.'s enemies without precondition. But making nice with Clinton apparently is another mattter after the increasingly angry fight the two have waged, with charges and countercharges, for the Democratic presidential nomination.
The sense in the press gallery was that Obama didn't cover himself in glory. Someone even used the word "childish." (Not this writer.) Judging by how much conversation there was about this brush off in the press gallery, Americans will be hearing a lot more about this tomorrow and in coming days.
The fact that much of the discussion in the press gallery after Bush's was about the snub is probably an indication of how we journalists and perhaps the nation are already moving past Bush, how the presidential campaign is increasingly crowding out anything Bush has to say .
Not that you could move past him completely. It was, after all, his night to a considerable extent.
When the president entered the packed chamber, once he got through the gauntlet of well wishers and ascended to the podium, he was cheered lustily by Republicans for what seemed like many minutes while he received polite applause from the Democrats. As the noise washed over him, he looked like a man who was really enjoying himself.
As White House aides had indicated in recent days, the speech contained no major new initiatives since the president has just a year left in the White House and he's dealing with a Democratic Congress that's not exactly friendly.
Still, if there was no major news or memorable soundbite, this SOTU was interesting because it was the last featuring this president and because at least two potential successors were sitting there on the Democratic side glowering at him much of the night.
Oh, there were moments when Clinton and Obama stood and politely applauded the president, like when he spoke about the nation owing a debt of gratitude to the military serving so bravely in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But there were many moments when the two leading Democratic presidential candidates sat on their hands, like the rest of their Democratic.colleagues.
Here's my favorite part...
There was one moment when Bush seemed to take a shot at his predecessor and Sen. Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, who's on the receiving end of a lot of criticism lately. The former president has said repeatedly that he believes the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 unfairly benefit the superwealthy, like himself.LOL!!! You know I can recall hearing that Clinton brags about paying more in taxes because he makes more money now. Of course the suspect part for most is, that I hear this on talk radio. Still I would wonder that if you can pay the higher taxes easily then you might not have a problem with it.
"Others have said they would personally be happy to pay higher taxes. I welcome their enthusiasm, and I am pleased to report that the IRS accepts both checks and money orders," Bush said.
Clinton gave Bush the kind of look Obama had given her a few minutes earlier.
I've always liked President Bush this was a ZING if I ever read one from him. It makes me want to see this State of the Union. I would like to see the reaction from Sen. Clinton about what the President said about her husband. But let's get back to the story here.
So Obama's relationship with his colleague has soured. You know I'm sure most of us think that Democrats all get along or Republicans well things happen, especially if you're dealing with different personalities. Hillary wants to be President bad enough that she might seriously damage a relationship with her fellow Senator. And Barack well, his beef might be what was said on the campaign trail and in the debates leading up to South Carolina.
One more tidbit but this is from the AP...
On his way out of the chamber, Bush shook hands with Obama. The president and Clinton did not shake hands.