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Bush reaction: Other views on State of the Union

Pomp and circumstance

From David Carroll of Mocksville (via e-mail):

I voted for President Bush because I did not see a choice. I supported the war because it was, despite the emotional rhetoric the lack of results has engendered, a well justified action. I am very disappointed how the president and his team have thought out the invasion beyond taking out Saddam. That was poor judgment. Yet, how people can arbitrarily say Bush lied about WMDs is absent of fact when England, Spain, France, and Germany all had the same intelligence (or lack thereof) that Bush had. So did the Democrats and Republicans. Yet, I too feel the war effort after the invasion was conducted badly. … Yet the reality when someone is trying to invade your home is to react with swiftness and deadly force.

The media, driven by selling papers or hyping a TV news program, seek to deal in the dramatic and pump up the latest event. They don’t seek facts. They are parrots who, rather than deal with the real issues of our society, solicit the juicy issues, the flamboyant issues, the contentious issues in order to sell the most. Why is there not health care at affordable prices for all? Why do politicians get away with spending like they do on pork barrel projects without accountability? Why do politicians get away with crooked deals and then get only a slap and time in a country club atmosphere federal prison if caught at all? Why do candidates spend endless millions to get a job that only pays $125,000 a year? Why are there not new inroads into increased gas efficiency and good alternatives? The State of The Union speech was not the State of This Union. It is a ritual of pomp and circumstance fed to a naive public and a mindless media, both of whom are driven by motivations which will not survive God’s Will.

The shadow of Iraq

From an editorial in the Indianapolis Star:

The war in Iraq cast a large shadow over President Bush as he delivered the State of the Union address Tuesday night.

One of the president’s major initiatives centers on an overhaul of the nation’s energy policy. He wants to cut gasoline consumption by 20 percent by 2017, primarily by relying on alternative fuels such as ethanol and increasing fuel economy standards for automobiles.

He proposed significant tax deductions for families and individuals who buy their own health insurance or receive benefits through their workplace. It’s a credible effort to make health insurance more affordable.

How many, if any, of his proposals Bush can guide through Congress is very much in question. That’s in large measure because of Americans’ continued frustration with the war in Iraq, a situation that has sapped Bush’s political capital and led to Democrats gaining control of the House and Senate in November.

In many respects, the state of the nation is strong. Optimism should be, if not growing, then at least stable. The political reality, however, is that until conditions on the ground improve in Iraq, the nation’s mood will remain sour and the president’s ability to drive his domestic agenda constrained.

Missed opportunities

From an editorial in the Baltimore Sun:

By now the pattern is familiar. President Bush comes before Congress all earnest and full of sweet talk about working together. But by morning, his promises often prove empty or disappear.

With Mr. Bush’s presidency at a political and popular ebb — and the opposition party running Congress for the first time during his tenure — a more truly conciliatory approach would seem obligatory for a leader in search of a positive legacy.

Yet the president — despite some gracious words for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her late father, Baltimore Mayor and Rep. Thomas J. D’Alesandro Jr. – made clear last night he doesn’t see it that way.

He missed two prime opportunities for shared progress on domestic issues with his showcased initiatives on health care and energy. His proposals not only disappointed Democrats but also would work against the goals of greater access to medical insurance and weaning the nation from foreign oil. …

On education, Mr. Bush merely treaded about the margins of the No Child Left Behind law, his greatest bipartisan achievement to date, with no comment on his failure so far to provide adequate financing.

And on immigration, probably the issue on which Mr. Bush has the best chance to find common cause with the Democrats, he repeated his laudable call for broad legislation that both secures the borders and takes the pressure off them through a guest worker program. But he offered no hint on how he will overcome opposition in his own party.

Progress looks all uphill from here.

Marooned and isolated

From The Age, a newspaper in Melbourne, Australia:

For a president with the third-lowest approval rating on the eve of a State of the Union address (only Harry Truman and Richard Nixon had worse), it must be said George Bush did his best on Tuesday night in Washington as he faced a Congress heavy with Democrats and at least 10 presidential hopefuls.

Indeed, applying his best gravitas and Churchillian rhetoric, he had this to say about Iraq: “On this day, at this hour, it is still within our power to shape the outcome of this battle. So let us find our resolve and turn events toward victory.” Such confidence might have stirred conscience and patriotism at the height of World War II, but on a cold January night it rang hollow within the walls of the congressional chamber, sending gloomy echoes across a country and out over a world largely opposed to American involvement in Iraq and increasingly disapproving of the Bush Administration’s role in it. …

George Bush is caught between the impossibility of his beliefs and the harsh realities of the political and public opinion he continues seriously to misjudge. To him, Iraq is a war in which America can be victorious; to much of the wider world, it is a diabolical mess largely of America’s making that has to be cleaned up, not won. The president is marooned; America is isolated.

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