As I sit down to begin what I hope will be a pretty short-winded blog regarding the State of the Union address last night (I mean really, what could I say that hasn't already been said?), I must apologize for my tardiness in getting this up; I managed to hold on throughout the meat of the speech, but by the time he started playing hype man to Dkembe, I fell asleep and woke up just an hour ago. Hell, even then I only woke up because my body clock went off reminding me that I Love New York was on.*
Now you, my readers (all one of you) may be asking yourselves, "Josh! How could you have possibly fallen asleep during that speech? It was a somber, heartfelt affair, with circumstances and contexts demanding the careful dissection of every moment. And do you really watch I Love New York?**"
First question gets first answer:
President Bush's speech was in effect an outline one of the most simpering, repetitive, uncommitted plans through which I have had the displeasure of sitting. It was a canker sore on the inner lip of politics (a lip that is already chapped beyond medication); I would rather listen to color commentary on a three-foot streamer of drool emitting from the mouth of Benjamin Franklin. I, along with every other viewer, was subjected to roughly 48 minutes of the President rattling off a list of things that need to get done, reforms that should have been instigated at least three years ago, stuff that focus groups have been screaming into his ear for what seems like eons.
There are a couple of points in particular which I would like to address. One, the mention of No Child Left Behind. Bush brings this topic up first thing, using the passing of that act as an example of Congress' "newfound bi-partisanship." We have here one hit and one miss: it is indeed true that there is a newfound lack of partisanship in Congress. It did not, however, stem from the passing of that act; it stemmed from wanting his sorry butt out of the White House. In the past few weeks, there have arisen far more condemnations of the "new" war plan than endorsements, many of them coming out of his own camp.
Two: let us address the war plan, and his discussion of it last night. Honestly, I don't know what to say on the subject. His explanation for sending off 21,000 more troops to Iraq is the same tired old song we've been hearing for years now: the terrorists hate democracy, they hate Americans, they want to kill all of us. To quote the President, "To win the war on terror we must take the fight to the enemy." Never mind that winning the war on terror is about as likely as winning the war on drugs. For every cell wiped out, two more will spring up in its place; it is the nature of the beast, and martyrdom is revered in that society like nothing else. As far as the terrorists' "hatred for Americans" is concerned...well, most of that is certainly justifiable. We likely wouldn't be having the problems we're having today if we had just stayed the hell out of that region in the first place (and by first place, I mean at least thirty years ago); our continued support for Israel has made this a social, economic, and political issue, all amplified religiously because of the society that it involves. We are a perpetually warring and paranoid nation; many of these cells can trace their origins back to our own Special Forces training them to drive the Russians out when they were still the enemy du jour.
And finally, the magic words were uttered: "global climate change," an utterance followed by a list of goals and pursuable standards once again bereft of any complementary focus, plan, or clearly stated objective.
To what does all of this translate? It translates to a meager attempt (by an even more meager president) to appease his critics by making mention of issues without actually proposing a specific plan, and to fire up the 34% of the country that still has his back with a rehashing of the same recycled war propaganda that has been shoved down our throats for the last three years. The man's like Chuck Wepner: he knows he can't win, he just wants to last the 15 rounds.
As a side note, the media's reaction and coverage of this thing was outlandish. Every network I turned to, all I heard about was this somber and honest speech, this admittance of wrongs, this recognizing what steps must now be taken to rectify the state of the nation (read "clusterf!!k"). My God...is no one intelligent enough to not take the Positive Press bait?
*I do not watch this show. If you do, you should be strung up by your testicles and beaten with Singapore canes.
**I told you...no.