I found the following while rummaging around in my brain.

During the period between WTC and Dubya’s last S-of-the-U speech I had this chronic crick in my neck as a result of constantly looking back over my shoulder à la Butch and Sundance, saying things like, “Who are these guys?” and “These guys are ‘good!’”

Then it all shifted. The end of the speech seemed to mark the beginning of a sea change in the body politic. I’ve been wondering why.

Nothing really new was being said after the speech that hadn’t been said before. And nothing Dubya said was all that diff from what his gang had been saying and doing previously.

I now think what happened is there had been a growing fear in the country about “everything.” Little by little, bits and pieces of doubt had been piling up and hadn’t found any credible answers other than the same – but getting old – “with us or against us” blah blah blah.

Without really knowing it, I think the country was collectively holding its breath and expecting that all would be made whole again with the speech. Kind of like an audience returning to the auditorium for Act Two of a two-act play. Only the second act resolved nothing that was set up in the first. As Dubya walked out of the House chambers, millions of people for the first time saw his bare ass.

That’s what they got for a second act.

But not only did he “flash” the country, he delivered a State of the Union address that was the kick-off for his re-election campaign. And here he “stepped on his appendage” by attacking point by point the positions of his main opponent … Howard Dean. Oooops!

The next day, the people of Iowa tore up his speech and threw it in the garbage, and instead of the sound of a sigh of relief from all that anxious breath being held there was an explosion of voters’ pent-up frustration that sounded a little like, “You bastards!”

Things haven’t been the same since!

Bill Appelhans is a Chicago hospital worker. He can be reached at pww@pww.org.