HOW'S this for a political odd-couple: Bill Clinton and...

salmagundi

January 31, 1995

HOW'S this for a political odd-couple: Bill Clinton and Roscoe Bartlett.

Of all the members of the Maryland congressional delegation, no one is farther away from the president's politics than the ultra-conservative Mr. Bartlett from conservative Western Maryland. And yet this is what the Republican congressman said of the president's State of the Union speech:

He gave the president an "A" for delivery and for hitting the right issues.

He said the tone and patriotic appeal of the address were stolen from Ronald Reagan.

"I predicted before the speech he was going to dust off an old Ronald Reagan speech and give it," said Mr. Bartlett. "He didn't have the 'shining city on a hill' reference, but just about everything else in a Reagan speech was there."

Adding to the oddity of the situation, another Republican congressman much closer to Mr. Clinton on the political spectrum had little but harsh words following the speech.

Eastern Shore Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, a moderate and a free-thinker, called it "one of the worst State of the Union addresses ever delivered."

He berated both the content and theme of the president's address. He "talked about 'no more politics as usual,' but his entire speech resonated with the grandiose display of political rhetoric of years gone by," Mr. Gilchrest said.

He called the speech "a sad display of undisciplined, unfocused emotion."

Does this mean Mr. Bartlett will get invited to White House soirees in this era of the "New Covenant"?

Or that Mr. Gilchrest needn't bother waiting for his invitation to arrive?

Stay tuned.

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