A critique: The State of the Union Address

    I caught all but the first few minutes of Bush’s address tonight (had difficulties connecting to a live internet feed on NPR, but was able to connect right away on C-Span and even got to see it in video)

    Anyway though, while listening to it I jotted down my impressions of it. I didn’t edit this much so it is very choppy but it is kind of a blow-by-blow of the speech. (BTW, my comments on the first couple of minutes from the speech were from reading the transcript later from CSpan.com.)

    Oratory-wise, he is dead-on tonight. Very well polished. One of his better speeches so far.

    Bush first addressed tax cuts (including plugging his stupid tax break for the rich) and then medical care. On medicine he took a predictable anti-lawyer approach (the so-called “tort reform” argument) instead of calling on the medical profession to get rid of the bad doctors who hurt people.

    From there the speech did improve from there. He made a lot of statements that sound good (if only he’ll follow through) on things like alternative fuels, treatment for drug offenders, and bans on human cloning and partial-birth abortion.

    He says “our calling as a blessed country is to make the world better.” – very good stuff

    Wow! support for funding Aids treatment in Africa! This is very cool!

    Then it went downhill bigtime with Orwellian double-talk in the extreme.

    While not using the term “axis of evil” he did run through the list…

    Iran – talked about liberty, choosing own government (funny he didn’t mention Saudi Arabia here isn’t it, especially since Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy with NO elections. At least in Iran they elect some of their officials)

    North Korea – posed a hardline but gave few specifics

    Iraq – “will not be permitted to dominate a vital region and threaten the United States” — yeah that’s big-time double-talk. He should have been upfront and said “Iraq will not be permitted to dominate so much oil and threaten America’s apetite for gas guzzlers.”

    He went on to discuss specific biological agents unaccounted for (including antrax), and that the UK says that Iraq is trying to smuggle uranium in from Africa.

    Most notably, Dubya made some very significant claims of the Iraqi regimes active work in subverting the inspection process. Of all Bush said, IF this is true this would likely be the most damning indictment (and the most likely true, unlike the more outrageous claims of uranium smuggling and the like)

    He claims that Iraq shelters terrorists including members of Al Quaeda, and that they got this information from sources including folks who are in US custody (likely being tortured by the US or her allies given the current state of affairs)

    He reports that the US will ask the security council to meet on February 5th.

    Says that the US will fight a “just war with just means.” In my mind, this was the biggest lie of all given what he says next, that if the US fights it will fight with the full might and force of the American military. What that means to me is that this will be unlimited war, where anything is on the table… including bombing civilians or even the use of weapons of mass destruction against Iraq.

    Dubya then went on to claim that “America fights for the liberty of strangers” — To me that just seems silly given our current “good buddy” status with the Chinese regime. It appears to me that the American regime doesn’t give a rat’s *** about the political liberty of anybody, only the freedom of unbridled open markets.

    Last of all what I found most disturbing was that at the end he invoked the name of God after going on his war at any costs diatribe. I found that down right revolting.

    Overall, the speech was a very mixed bag in my eyes. While I do not agree with his tax cut plans, I otherwise think he presented some excellent proposals with regards to his domestic and global humanitarian policiies. IF he follows through on these proposals (bans on cloning & partial birth abortion; subsidies for hydrogen-powered cars, more funding for the African aids crisis, etc.) then the world will be much better place in my eyes.

    At the same time, the later 1/3 of the speech focused on his “axis of evil” was contradictory and disturbing. He rattled off a lot of platitudes about liberty and fighting a “just war with just means,” yet gave no real proof of the need for this ridiculous war or explained adequately why America should invade Iraq, but not North Korea or for that matter Saudi Arabia.

    Overall, I think Bush’s speech helped to solidify his base of support, and will likely slow down his ratings drop, however, I do not think that the speech changed the minds of those who are against his war plans.

    On the domestic policy front, his speech was surprising both in its inclusions and omissions. I was surprised by his support for alternative fuels and increased AIDS-funding, but I was also surprised that he did not address civil rights in anyway. Given the recent Trent Lott-flap and the administration’s brief in the U-Mich affirmative action case, I think Bush would have been well served to express explicitly his support for civil rights. Lots of folks (including myself) have doubts that Affirmative Action is the best course of action to bring about racial reconciliation, but if that is not the answer then Bush should have said what is the answer. His silence on the subject seems to say that he has no real civil rights policy.