As a TV spectacle, I sort of missed having Republicans and Democrats on opposite sides of the aisle during the State of the Union address. For starters, we were deprived the imagery of Democrats leaping to their feet — while the GOP sat stewing — when President Obama said his signature legislative triumph “prevents the health-insurance industry from exploiting patients.”

These speeches are always windy and full of soaring rhetoric that’s often forgotten the next day. Kids, when you grow up, become teachers. After all, who wouldn’t want to work long hours for crappy pay?

But overall, this one was better than most — peppered with humor, forceful in important ways, and showcasing Obama’s bipartisan leanings, beginning with his statement, “We will move forward together, or not at all.”

Beyond the speech itself, the optics of the evening were interesting, mostly because House Speaker John Boehner looked like he was passing a kidney stone about half the time. (On the plus side, he never fully burst into tears — but came pretty close when Obama talked about how he embodied the American dream.) John McCain also appeared awfully cranky until he heard the word “earmarks,” which brought him to his feet.

Obama called American Democracy “contentious and frustrating and messy,” and cleverly closed by saying the customary line, “The state of our union is strong.” By the time he got to the Chilean miners, the speech was a little messy in places, too, but nevertheless stirring.

Half the fun, meanwhile, rested in the fact there were not one but two GOP responses — one official, from Rep. Paul Ryan; the other on behalf of the Tea Party, and crazy-neighbor lady Rep. Michele Bachmann.  

All told, not bad for a Muslim Manchurian candidate who’s secretly intent on bringing America to its knees.

Of course, depending on which side of the aisle you occupy, I suspect there might be differing views as to which of the three you think that description applies to.

 Update: Wow, Bachmann was something — the world’s most annoying schoolmarm. Actually made Sarah Palin look like an intellectual giant.

Somebody owes Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal an apology for his much-lampooned SOTU response.