Tuesday, January 31, 2006

We don't need no stinkin' details!

Thematically, it was hard to disagree with much of Bush's State of the Union speech, particularly in the opening moments. Isolationism has never been the answer, particularly now. Argue with his administration's execution, but don't dispute the goal.

His call for sacrifice would have been much better served with a flat-out demand for a hearty increase in veterans' (past and present) benefits. That involves better troop pay, along with improved medical coverage for those who've fought overseas. At minimum. He could easily make it happen.

Overall, Bush offered lots of cloudy idealism stuck in shifting realities. Specifics, per usual with this president, were lacking. He said the domestic spying program has thwarted terrorist attacks. Why not illustrate? I might be more disposed to support the "terrorism surveillance initiative" if I knew the results.

There were lots of initiatives bandied about. Got any idea what the American Competitive Initiative proposes, or what the Helping America's Youth Initative has achieved? But initiative is a positive word; indeed, much of Bush's speech seemed cribbed from a Tony Robbins seminar. Meanwhile, his talk of "activist judges redefining marriage" seemed cribbed from Republican Party campaign literature.

I like the call for alternative energies, but his goal was shortsighted and will likely prove underfunded. Naively, I hoped for some sort of "Nixon goes to China" moment, but Bush refuses to surprise. His acknowledgement of Beltway corruption was lacking, as well.

Surprisingly, I'll give him points on delivery. For a president with approval ratings hovering around 40 percent, he displayed plenty of conviction. Misguided, perhaps, but it's equally misguided to dismiss him as a caricature, regardless of how you rate his job performance.

As for the opposition ... would you buy a car from the Virginia governor who delivered the Democratic response? They should've given Tennessee senatorial candidate Harold Ford Jr. a well-deserved moment in the spotlight, but that would've been politically savvy. "There's a better way," and yours ain't it!


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