Gov. Jennifer Granholm did what she had to do and more in delivering her re-election year State of the State Address on Wednesday night.
The well-crafted speech that "spoke to the people" instead of the legislature presented an upbeat note using every arrow in a speechmaker's quiver. The pacing, the gestures, the happy face, the serious face, the pregnant pause, the dramatic assertiveness and expressive confidence were all a marked contrast to the pitifully written and poorly delivered Republican response by committee.
Jobs, health care and education were the key topics. But there was also strong support, even a threat to Republicans who control the legislature that if they don't raise the minimum wage, "the voters of Michigan surely will." Democrats, of course, are circulating petitions to not only raise the minimum wage, but also doing it with a Consitutional Amendment and a built-in cost of living increase.
As expected Republicans sat on their hands while Democrats in the audience cheered when the Governor spoke of new initiatives to create a new pension plan for folks who can't get one now and for a new health insurance plan to cover more than a half million other poor working people currently not covered by health insurance.
The speech cast the Governor as the promoter in chief of all that is best about Michigan and in a clear stab at Michigan Republicans who have cast Detroit as a villain unfairly draining dollars out of the rest of the state, Granholm made it clear where she stands. "The only seperation we should have between Detroit and Michigan is a comma, period," she declared with emphasis on the last word.
Just a few days ago, Granholm was in Isabella County, doing a preview of parts of her speech about her efforts to diversify Michigan's economy. But she made it clear Wednesday that Michigan's future will rely on Michigan's expertise in putting America behind the wheel and exploiting that expertise into other areas.
But more than just the content of the speech, it was the way it was delivered that makes it clear that anyone on the same stage with her is going to have their work cut out for them. She is quite simply an excellent speaker, a dynamic and engaging personality. Put her together with a good speech and she has no competition on either side of the aisle. The Republicans will need an A++ effort to beat her and they simply do not have a candidate of that caliber.