Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Grading the governor

By Diane Silver

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius made her national TV debut last night, and I have to say that my reaction is mixed.

First, I give her an A for content. I liked the message.

I particularly liked the way she framed her speech as being America's response to George W. Bush's State of the Union and not the Democrat Party's response.

She then proceeded to call on Bush to "join us" in getting the hard work done. For me that phrase implies that it's about time Bush stopped acting like an arrogant jerk, but perhaps that's just my interpretation.

Of course, it has been a long time since Bush and the country were on the same page. Just look at the president's approval ratings. They're abysmal everywhere, even in Republican Kansas.

However, I have to give Sebelius a C- or even a D for delivery. She was wooden throughout the speech and even halting, at times.

I sympathize. Giving this kind of TV address is hard. There's no audience. You're seated. There's no one to play to except the camera and looking natural when you're staring into a camera is a hard-won skill. At the same time, though, it's a vital skill for someone with national political ambitions.

I will give her one point. When I woke up this morning and heard a sound bite from her speech on the radio, Sebelius did sound compelling.

Call this an intriguing but not altogether successful TV debut. Perhaps she'll do better on the stump with Barack Obama today.

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