In his review of last night’s State of the Union address, Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales praised the performance of Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy, who apparently did a fine job of sitting in his chair and looking senatorial. “He looks so venerable and distinguished by now that it’s hard to get a bad picture of him,” Shales gushed. “In fact he seems more and more to resemble Claude Rains as a veteran white-haired senator in Frank Capra’s classic movie 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.' Life imitating art’s imitation of life.”
Three years ago, Shales was similarly ecstatic at Kennedy’s ability to strike a pose. “The best reaction shots were those of Ted Kennedy, whose stature seems to grow right along with his nose year after year after year. Kennedy has now reached a grand moment in the life of a senator; he looks like Hollywood itself cast him in the role,” Shales wrote after the 2004 State of the Union. “Kennedy looked great, like he was ready to take his place next to Jefferson on Mount Rushmore.
But after the 2002 State of the Union, when Kennedy had the more arduous task of standing to receive a presidential compliment, Shales was less enthusiastic: “As the cherry on the sundae, he [President Bush] acknowledged the help of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and praised him, which brought Kennedy to his feet smiling to the cheers of the crowd. Kennedy looked hale and robust, though one couldn’t help notice a certain resemblance to SpongeBob SquarePants, the popular Nickelodeon cartoon character.”
Oh, and as for the actual speech-giver, Shales was tepid: “George W. Bush flirted with eloquence only at the end of his so-so, nuts-and-bolts State of the Union speech last night....As seen on all the major and minor networks, the speech was workmanlike and the presentation presentable.”
But that pink, puffy, sleepy Ted Kennedy — he sure can sit, can’t he?