The other night, I turned on the State of the Union Address to hear what the plan was for our nation going forward into the last year of the Bush Presidency. I expected a little bit of reflection on the last 7 years, and a strong push for something new in the final year.
I also expected some amusing verbal slips
Unfortunately, it feels like I got neither. From what I could tell, there were three primary topics:
Now, I know everyone is all in a fuss over the housing market and a potential recession. The stock market yo-yo last week should be enough to put anyone on edge. So, in light of all of this I expected some attention be paid to the issue, and the proposed stimulus package. I did not expect it to dominate the first 10-15min of the 50min speech.
I was also disappointed with how he approached Congress regarding the bill. The attitude of "Pass it like it is, or I will veto it", while showing strength and determination, doesn’t strike me as the best way to deal with an opposition led congress. Starting off on the offensive and with a very "My way or the highway" tone isn’t going to help get the bill through, and smacks of earlier attitudes along the lines of "You’re either with us, or against us." While I agree that the bill should not be laden down with extensions to this, provisions for that, and overall general bloat, there has to be a better way to approach Congress on the issue.
On the economic front, I did like his demand that all special interest spending must be voted on in congress, and not just added through quiet loopholes, and his promise to cut 151 "wasteful or bloated" programs from the 2008 budget. While it seems odd to have a President who has spent so much money to talk about fiscal responsibility and balancing the budget, I still commend him for making the attempt.
But lacking in the talk of the economy was any mention of what could be done to stimulate businesses, the flagging manufacturing sector, stem the tide of jobs going overseas, help strengthen the falling dollar etc. The focus was entirely on getting a few hundred dollars to each tax payer, in the hope that they will continue to be irresponsible with their money and spend it instead of saving it.
Briefly Bush also talked about education and No Child Left Behind. Considering I’ve heard nothing but negative reports about NCLB, from both sides of the political spectrum, my guess is he’s grasping at straws with that one. I don’t know enough specifically about NCLB since it went into effect well after I was done with school, but I remember the attempts to start standardized graduation testing etc, and it was garbage then, I don’t imagine it’s any better now.
Then we had the rest of the speech dominated by the War on Terror. I’m sorry, but I’m more or less immune to anyone’s attempts to drum up fear or anything much more than apathy for the Peace in the Middle East process, or the spread of Democracy. They’ve beat on that drum so long and so often that the words have lost pretty much all meaning. They could be 100% true, and it wouldn’t matter. It’s the issue that gets tossed up to distract from all other issues. The fact that it dominated this State of the Union address just goes to further reinforce that.
The speech wasn’t about new things, it was about old issues. It wasn’t about what we were going to do different or try and change, it was about how we were going to keep hammering away at what we’ve been doing. To me, it shows a final resignation, like they know this last year is a wash, so they’re going to coast through, despite the strong rhetoric trying to make us feel otherwise.
And worst of all, he actually managed to pronounce most of the words correctly! So it wasn’t even an entertaining speech.