While watching the State of the Union Address two thoughts ran through my head — first, I feel sorry for the Democrats, and second, I wonder if a system exists to give electric shocks to Congressmen who try to clap more than twice. Kidding aside, I thought it was a good speech that laid out the President’s vision for the future, and his determination to see it through.
Domestic issues were arguably the weaker of the two parts of his address simply from a presentation standpoint. The substance of the speech, however, was pure Bush and was correct — tax cuts and fiscal responsibility to jumpstart the economy, free market reforms in Medicare and championing “compassionate conservatism” through efforts to combat AIDS in Africa.
On each issue, he connected with the voters — linking tax cuts to how much money they will receive, making health care reforms that give citizens the same choices as congressmen and limiting federal spending to what a normal families growth would be.
In each instance, the President firmly made the case, especially for the working families, for why these moves were good for the economy and good for themselves. Even better was the way he created a tone of necessity over each issue, to ensure Congress does not simply sit on its hands. If indeed these tax cuts are “good for Americans three, or five or seven years from now, it is even better for Americans today.”
Using language like that, Congress will be hard-pressed to simply pass on the problems until next session. I especially liked the mild rebuke on spending, which is the main reason for deficits in Washington. As a conservative first and a Republican second, I am well aware that both parties engage in far too much spending for the common good. Pushing for a fiscally responsible spending policy will help alleviate this problem.
There were other initiatives that deserve special mention. I was pleased to see a push for less dependence on foreign oil. A key component of an effective foreign strategy should be a reduction in our dependence on oil from the Middle East. I was disappointed not to see the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge mentioned, but the push for hydrogen vehicles is at least a noble effort.
Bans on partial-birth abortion and human cloning were great to see as well. These not only solidify his base of supporters because they are initiatives they would like passed, but also are issues that have a much broader moral implication that most people believe in. The push for a mentoring program and a fight against AIDS are also laudable goals. They emphasize the fact that “compassionate conservatism” is not simply a catch phrase to win an election, but a clear facet of the President’s agenda.
The key component of the speech was foreign policy, focused mainly on Iraq. There were more than a few memorable lines, but overall, it simply was well done. First, Bush offered a recap of the success thus far in our war against terror. This was something I was quite pleased to see.
The issue with such a new war is that success will not be easily seen. Listing past successes was a wonderful way of showing how far we have come. I was also pleased to see thousands of editorials answered through his laying out different strategies for Iran, North Korea and Iraq, and why a different strategy is needed in each case.
Turning to Iraq, the main focus of foreign policy, Bush corrected a misconception. Hans Blix and his friends are not off in Iraq to be some sort of modern-day Colombo going “Just one more question, Saddam,” but are placing the onus on Hussein. They are not there to play hide-and-seek games, but there to verify Iraq is doing what it is supposed to be doing.
Following this setup, Bush laid out, quite well, the many infractions and proofs that Iraq is not following the U.N. resolutions at all. President Bush also answered those who believe that an “imminent” threat is needed, questioning how trusting in the sanity of madmen makes any sense at all. This clear case was followed by an easily seen determination on President’s part to see this through to the end.
For just one second I felt sorry for America’s, and the world’s, enemies. At this moment I realized they have underestimated us, to their peril. For many years, our enemies have believed they could do as they wish and that America would never respond.
They forgot that this is the nation that chokes on gnats but swallows lions whole. After this, I know they should watch their step lest allowing Bush to say next year, “Let’s put it this way — they are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies.”
Clemm is a sophomore and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.