Wednesday, January 24, 2007

20. The State of Our Union

Some comments on President Bush’s State of the Union address.

First, let me be clear. I have been a student of presidents and presidencies for many years. In college I wrote several papers on different presidents, although none on this one, who took office after I left college. I have remarked to many people during the six years and four days (thus far) of George W. Bush’s presidency that I believe him to be the worst president at least of my lifetime. I was born in the waning days of the Dwight D. Eisenhower administration, a well respected and revered man, both in his living and his passing. There are very little, if any, similarities between these two men other than party registration. Mr. Bush comes very close to Jimmy Carter on a failed domestic agenda and like Ronald Reagan has borrowed this country into a deeper debt that ever envisioned by anyone, including Mr. Reagan who previously held that dubious and horrific honor. This president came into office professing to be an isolationist. He will leave with his intention intact. His only international friend at the time of his questionable and questioned election in November, 2000 was former Mexican president Vicente Fox, with whom he later parted ways. He will leave office in two years after having taken the United States, her foreign allies, and her opponents on a roller coaster ride worthy of a Walt Disney theme park. America visited the mountaintop shortly after the events of September 11, 2001, with the support of the worldwide community. Today, that support is severely limited and open to question. Only UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has remained through it all, and his days are numbered in his homeland because of it. We no longer have a place on that mountaintop. Our place is in a depression at present, a valley filled with war abroad and uncertainty at home. While the president can cite economic statistics implying a strengthening nation, the truth is the divide between rich and poor, have’s and have-not’s, and other such divisions, is as wide as it has ever been. Two and one half months ago, Americans sent a clear message to the president, one he might even call a mandate, and to the Congress, by sending some of them home including our own Mrs. Northup, that we were not and are not happy with the state of our union. Let’s hope both the President and the Congress were listening then and are listening now.

Having said all the above, I will address some specifics comments of Mr. Bush, with which I agreed.

He began great. Hearing him say “Madame Speaker” was worth all the toil of many, many folks who worked tirelessly across the country last year to help make those words a reality. His tribute to her father, former Congressman Thomas D’ Alesandro, Jr., was very touching. Also, calling for prayer for the recovery and speedy return of two members not present, Senator Tim Johnson and Congressman Charlie Norwood was fitting and appropriate.

I mentioned above the incredible debt the United States has amassed under this president. According to estimates, it stands as of this moment at $8,682,260,402,021.35. That’s Eight Trillion with a T. Everett Dirksen would be astonished. That’s about $28,864.73 for each and every soul who is counted as a citizen of this country. The president failed to address this matter at all. He did mention the budget deficit twice and asked Congress to take measures to reduce it by half by 2009. He did not mention the debt his administration has created.

He called Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid “commitments of conscience.” This is good. He also said we are failing to do our duty to keep them permanently sound. I applaud him for that.

He said that private health insurance is the best way for most Americans to meet their health care needs. He is wrong. America needs a universal health care plan and the sooner one of the presidential wannabes agrees to that, the better off they will be. He talked a lot about tax credits for buying health insurance. This isn’t enough. America needs health insurance, not more tax credits.

On the same matter, he spoke of individual states addressing these health care insurance needs. While this is good, they are only doing so because they know the president and our country’s leaders haven’t and probably aren’t. His comments here were only cover.

He spoke at length about immigration. I agree with him a great deal in some of these matters. My immigration beliefs are, admittedly, well to the left of almost anyone. But, his proposals merit a discussion and a vote and are steps in the right direction. Let’s just hope he keeps moving that way. I am not sure what he meant with regard to resolving the status of our illegals “without animosity and without amnesty.” I think amnesty is one solution which should be seriously explored.

His discussion on our country’s energy needs and policies was also worthy. He made proposals with which I agree. He mentioned cleaner coal, solar and wind power, nuclear power, the use of ethanol, woodchips, grasses, and agricultural wastes as energy sources. I agree with him on all of them. I am concerned about what he meant when he said we must “step up domestic oil production in environmentally sensitive ways.” Sounds like a reference to Alaska.

He ignored the Constitution’s reference to advise and consent when he called on the Senate to give him a prompt up-or-down vote on his judicial nominees. Of course, he has been ignoring the Constitution rather regularly since taking office, so this came as no surprise.

He then moved into a very lengthy discussion on the War, on Iraq, on all matters of foreign policy. I listened, but I have no comments on this. A lot of people thought he would avoid going to this subject, as he is in the clear minority with his thoughts. But, he forged on, but in a pleading way. I commend him for laying out his beliefs and asking for help.

He closed with some feel-good recognitions of several Americans including Silver Heart recipient Sergeant Tommie Reiman, of Independence, Kentucky. When he mentioned Sergeant Reiman’s hometown, Kentucky became the only state mentioned by name in the course of the speech. For that, we should thank him for the recognition, not only of Sergeant Reiman, but of all the women and men he has asked to give of their time and talents, and of some the ultimate price, in following his policies, policies which I find unexplainable. He closed by saying the “State of our Union is strong.” I hope he is right.

May God bless America.


Question said...

How long have you had this up and running? All through the campaign? I wonder if you can guess who I am!!

Anonymous said...

Possible answers.

1. A Congressman.
2. Someone other than the Press person from that congressman's office, since the blog's writer is in pretty steady communication with said congressman's Press person, and has infact made reference to him in an entry herein.
3. The chief-of-staff of another congressman from the same state, who is an old friend of the blog's writer.

Possibly #1. Less likely #3. Unlikely at all #2.

If you read all the entries in the blog, you will discover that the blog has only been existence since the beginning of this month. If you haven't read all the entries, I'd strongly recommend you doing so. If you know the blog's writer to any extent - and you do, you know that he has a passion for writing, for history, for government, and for politics.

This writer is pretty sure they can guess your identity. But a lot has changed in the past eleven weeks.

Nick Stump said...

I think your analysis of the SOTU Address was right on point. I must say President Bush's mention of a young soldier from Kentucky buys him no points with me. The fact the young man was from a rural town in Kentucky is the real message here. As I've written to you before, statistics show this war is carried on the back of rural Americans more than anyone. This young man could be from Vermont, or other state with a high rural population. Wherever in rural America they're from, they have a 60% higher chance of dying than do their urban counterparts.

I am disappointed you didn't mention Jim Webb's response, a response I think will go down in history as an example of how to do such a thing. Webb was given a speech to read by his "more experienced" colleagues He wisely discarded their advice and wrote his own response. Webb's work was quite good--and right to the point.

Webb drew a very defined line in the sand in his last sentence. Further, he talked about economic fairness, or the lack there of, in this country. As you know, I am a Webb man, so take anything I have to say with a grain of political salt. But Webb is a man who has proved himself in Vietnam, winning not only the Silver Star, but the coveted Navy Cross, the second highest medal next to the Congressional Medal of Honor. While he was running against George Allen, Webb did not rely on his military record, he articulated a well thought out message on the economic unfairness we see all over the country. We see even more of this sort of thinking from Webb in his response last night and from his recent WSJ piece on the issue.

Webb is a true populist. I've always thought Democrats were at their best when they concerned themselves with populist issue. As time goes on and the middle-class in this country is slowly being pushed into the underclass, Senator Webb will seem to be more a fortune-teller than mere Senator. He has been in this position before, warning us about invading Iraq, long before most "good" Democrats could find the place on the map.

For Bush to throw out a couple of bones to hush Democrats was an insult to all. Yes, he's talking about global climate change, health care and alternative energy but the bottom line is he is begging for a little more time to get his Iraq War working and has no real answers to any of the domestic problems he referred to. This is a time when our country needs greatness. Jim Webb provided a few minutes of what I think this country needs. Mr. Bush provided nothing.

I'm in agreement with you--Mr. Bush is the worst President in my lifetime, and from what history I've read, we can further back than my 58 years to find such a piss-poor example of leadership.

You're doing a great job with this blog. I can only hope you will open it to the public soon. We need more good netroots work in Kentucky and you have made a fine start. Keep it up.


The Archives at Milepost 606


Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Never married, liberal Democrat, born in 1960, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.